As the liaison between a company and its customers, workers are in the best position to represent a business and its driving principles. This is especially true in contact centers. As the face of your company, your workforce can say more about your business than any “about us” page or carefully-selected online review ever could. If you are serious about improving efficiency and productivity at your contact center, your workforce is the best place to start. Here are the three best techniques to help you start optimizing your workforce today:
1. Cultivate a positive work environment.
Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude. Humans feed off of each other’s emotions – our good and bad moods often rub off on other people and affect their dispositions. It’s a common saying that bad attitudes are contagious, but positive attitudes can be just as infectious.
This is particularly true in the work place, where workers often spend forty hours per week or more with each other. For this reason, it is vitally important to cultivate positive attitudes in your contact center. Workers with positive mindsets are more likely to develop friendships with their colleagues and are less likely to dread going into the office. Agents who enjoy their time at work are more productive, nicer to callers, and friendlier to their co-workers.
While all of this is nice in theory, it may seem easier said than done in practice. How exactly do you go about improving the collective mindset of a group of people? Start by verbally acknowledging agents’ accomplishments – a simple “good job” or “nice work today” can go a long way in letting agents know that their hard work is appreciated.
Don’t stop there, though, or your efforts may come off as insincere. Take a few minutes out of the day every once in a while to blow off some steam. This can come in the form of holiday parties, cake on birthdays, office field trips as rewards for meeting goals, etc. Morale boosting activities help establish and nurture friendships among co-workers and create the feeling that work is more than just a job at your contact center. Short time-outs during the day will boost productivity enough to offset the time spent away from the office. It’s win-win for everyone!
2. Incorporate technology at every turn.
In an increasingly digital world, being up-to-date with new technology is essential to any well-functioning business. To optimize your workforce, incorporate technology into your policies and procedures and use it to your advantage. This applies to both hardware and software. Keep your operating system and your programs updated, and make sure your employees are briefed about every update and re-trained if necessary.
If you have not already done so, you should incorporate advanced metrics into the day-to-day operations of your contact center. Advanced metrics are a part of workforce management software and can monitor electronic interactions between agents and callers, giving you a very specific evaluation of a worker’s skills and habits.
From this data, you can identify the areas in which your agents excel. Some agents may specialize in IT inquiries, while others are better with customer service issues – and that’s perfectly fine. None one is great at everything they do. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but advanced metrics allow contact centers to capitalize on their agents’ assets while downplaying their flaws. Once you’ve figured out who is best at certain activities, you can schedule and re-train your agents accordingly.
For example, if the majority of your customer service calls occur from 12:00-1:30 PM or after 5:00 PM, you probably shouldn’t have your best customer service representatives working the graveyard shift. Additionally, if an agent is already proficient with IT issues but is lacking in customer service, you can adjust their training to focus less on the former and more on the latter. You can also use advanced metrics in conjunction with your other software to divert calls to the agents best-equipped to handle them.
3. Set realistic goals and hold workers accountable to meeting them.
Goals are important in life – they give us something to work towards, a sort of inertia that helps drive us forward one day to the next. This is especially important in the workplace, where people can lose focus and slack off when they feel like they’re not working towards a tangible goal. To avoid this, create realistic goals for agents at your contact center, hold them accountable for reaching those goals, and reward them when they do.
This is where advanced metrics come in handy. Once you’ve identified the areas in which your agents excel, you can create individualized goal plans that encourage workers to improve in areas that they struggle. For example, if an agent has a less-than-desirable customer service rating, one of their goals can be to improve it by 2.5% weekly and 10% monthly. Over time, these small increases will add up to large improvements.You can also create office- and company-wide goals to encourage teamwork between your agents or inspire competition among them.
Don’t forget to reward your agents for achieving their goals. If they work hard, improve their performance, and meet their goals but have nothing to show for it, there is no incentive to maintain that same level of engagement andproductivity, much less improve upon it. Adopting an incentive program will motivate your agents to improve their performance not only for the greater good of the company, but also for the greater good of themselves. As an added bonus, this will also help cultivate positive attitudes throughout your call center.
Remember, there is no one-trick method to optimizing your workforce. It takes time, effort, and energy from every person at your call center, from the efficiency experts and analysts to the supervisors and agents, to boost overall performance and increase customer satisfaction. If you want to improve agent productivity at your call center but do not know where to begin, try using some of these easy tips for workforce optimization. You’ll thank yourself later.
BIO: Hayley Irvin is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. When she’s not creating awesome content for Marketing Zen and Kova Corp , she’s writing about basketball, learning about space, and thwarting her cats’ attempts to take over the world. Catch up with her on Twitter @HayleyNIrvin.