Monday, July 24, 2017

Trust is Important in the Contact Center

By Celia Thomas

To aid and ensure contact center agents are successful, leadership must support and values them. One key area in this development, is trust.  There is an excellent quote by Steven Covey that speaks to the important of trust in leaders. “Without trust we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate or, at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”  Trust will not only help create a team, it will help create exceptional individuals.

Relationship building will lead to agent trust. The leader is responsible for creating the strong professional bonds between them and their direct reports. Trust is a result of listening to staff, engagement, and inclusion. Agents need to be built up by the leadership team. As agents get developed, whether it be through coaching, training, or one-on-one conversations, leadership is offered the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of trust between them.

When the front line has confidence in the leadership team, they will be more open to coaching, modifying their behaviors, and they’ll adapt to change easier. As agents improve, they become proud of their achievements. They strive for more success, feel valued, and recognize the significance their performance has on the team. In short, they care!

With this attitude saturating the team, it is easy to cultivate a nurturing environment. The return on the investment we make on the agents positively effects many areas in the center. The return is so much greater than our efforts. Building trust with your agents will make a world of difference in morale, team performance and attendance.  The agents will feel good about where they work and more importantly who they work for. They become driven to succeed, while becoming more invested with the company.

Leadership sets the tone.
What destroys trust? Most always, agents will say leadership is lacking in three key areas: 
  1. Support
  2. Transparency
  3. Honesty
Not paying attention to the cares of the team, deflates morale and kills productivity. If we don't make time for agents, or listen to their concerns, our team will inevitably die. This results in the company spending more money on hiring and training, while managing high turnover due to a poor agent experience. The negative impact will ripple throughout the center and could be very hard to come back from. A leader's reputation speaks volumes. Below are a few things that can erode trust.
  • Unfair treatment/favoritism
  • No time for the agent/team
  • Failing to recognizing/reward agent performance
  • Unapproachable
  • Poor communication
Leadership sets the tone! When a leader shows interest in the team members, it has a positive impact. This is far reaching, and measurable in areas such as retention, production, achieving KPI's, better attendance, improved quality, and improved morale.

Agent trust is gained by leaders who are servant-leaders. These are the leaders who are not above conducting demo calls, role playing, or getting down in the trenches with the agent. It proves to the agents that leadership values them, and is willing to invest time and effort into developing them, or assisting them as needed.

The return on investment yields high dividends. When an agent is empowered and equipped by their leader, it builds trust, which in turn, is transferred to the team as a whole. Agent performance will reflect the leader who is behind them. The sense of comradery between the team and the leader is built on trust, which drives success in the center.  

Celia Thomas has 22 years of experience in the contact center, including 9 years in call center management. She has extensive knowledge in overseeing day to day operations, and is well versed in managing both Inbound and Outbound projects. During her career she has managed and grown many B2B and B2C client programs.

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