Thursday, December 18, 2014

Engaging Your Agents’ Passions

By: Sean Hawkins

Much has been said recently about employee engagement. In fact, Aon Hewitt offers a report, 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, which offers great insight on the topic. Rather than rehash what many have stated, I’d like to discuss a practical solution that has worked amazingly well for me.

For several years, my contact center has conducted employee reviews designed to get feedback on how best to engage them. While studies and data are great, a better way to determine what employees want is to ask them?

I have always been mindful of the stresses contact center agents are under. Not every interaction is pleasant, and at times, customers can be mean-spirited. This can certainly take a toll on anyone. Because of this, it is important for contact managers to know the agents. How are they feeling? What does their body language suggest? What does their tone of voice say about their mood? More importantly, a good call center manager should notice when agent burnout or fatigue sets in.

To avoid such burnout, which can certainly lead to attrition, perhaps it is best to engage the agent’s passions. What does this mean exactly? In simplest terms, find out what they like and let them do it.

Several years ago, we had many agents who were passionate about volunteering. Leadership wisely recognized this and implemented a volunteer initiative. It allowed agents 2 hours per month of paid time to volunteer to a cause of their choice. The results for so overwhelmingly positive, we spent time volunteering as a department during Customer Service Week.

This is just one example of identifying what agents want and incorporating it into the contact center. The point is this--employees will be fully invested in the company when it is reciprocated. There is a saying we have all heard that goes like this, “happy agents make happy customers.” Allow me to tweak that a bit. Happy employees create happy companies.

Sean is a Contact Center manager with over 13 years of experience. He has a terrific pulse on incorporating innovation into the contact center. He's implemented social, outsourcing partners, new technology, and new products, while maintaining an award-winning contact center.

His contact center is a past winner of the ICMI "Global Call Center of the Year" award for Small to Medium-Sized Centers.

Follow on Twitter @SeanBHawkins

Monday, December 15, 2014

Guest Post: Solving Customer Issues and Delivering Satisfaction

By: Irene Martinez

In any business industry, products can be superb and highly state of the art. Sales professionals can have the most outstanding business relationships, but how is this of any value if the most important and critical part of the business “customer service” is not customer-oriented? As a customer, have you ever experienced “the representative was not knowledgeable as I expected and was rude”; “given the run around from associate to associate”; “my problem is unresolved and yet they were selling me more products”?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, then you can easily understand your customers’ level of frustration. The reason a business loses its customers is due to the lack of corporate responsiveness that caters to the customers’ needs which indeed impedes loyalty. It has taken the company weeks, months and even years to get to such a successful peak which was more than likely built not only on marketing but by references. Bill Gates once stated, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Think about it: without customers, we have NO business to begin with.

This is why it is essential to hear their concerns and have the department or company adopt a method that delivers satisfaction. As a business, you should see these complaints as a form of feedback, valuable feedback that is. This valuable feedback provides room for improvement (product or staff). Take it as a form of “free research” that has just been handed to you and your company. As part of the team, one must take ownership in the product you stand behind (walking it from beginning toend). However, naturally it is impossible to eat an elephant in one bite (so to speak), but what can be done is to have the team or department educate, train, “communicate” and most importantly, find methods that inspire staff to take ownership of the company product.

To conclude, what the business should be pursuing is filling the gaps impacting the customers. When customers lack a sense of security, they will walk away giving others the business you just lost. It is strongly advisable to motivate your teams by communicating and providing confidence through praises. Surprisingly, in no time, it will build stronger intrinsic motivation in individuals and teams, successfully leading them to satisfaction. Satisfaction that spreads to the customers. Now, it's time to take ownership. After all, you have customers to satisfy.


Irene Martinez has over 10 years experience in Project Coordinating, Quality Assurance, Quality Analysis, Auditing and Quality Control. This includes testing processes and procedures in the banking and financial industries and aligning compliance requirements to governmental guidelines.