Call centers are changing and the work in call centers is becoming more challenging
Customer service is shifting and so is the work in the contact center.
In the past, call centers were the first communication channel for consumers. That made work easier.
Today, with web help, chatbots and FAQs, users don’t call the call center unless they absolutely must. They make a call to the call center when these self-service options fail. The consequence of this shift is that easier inquiries are usually dealt with online, leaving the agents to face more complicated issues. Another obstacle for the agent is being ‘Plan B’, essentially meaning that Plan A has failed. Therefore, agents deal with customers that are frustrated that their first channel of choice has failed them. So, there is no surprise that agents aren’t happy and avoid taking customer calls.
As a result, turnover and absenteeism are two issues that call centers deal with all the time, losing the potential to create experts which both teach younger employees the tricks of the trade, and ensure continuous superior service.
Happy Agents=Happy Customers
We all know that when agents are happy in work, they talk about it, and they are more inclined to promote the brand and act as a recruiting arm. There is also a reduction in churn, since customers are happier with the service they get. This makes it economically worthwhile to invest into your agents.
The big question is how can you create a happy environment for your agents?
The old-school way to improve performance was to address supervisors and provide them with data to improve their work and insight so they can better manage the people that report to them. But, if the issue is disengaged agents, why not focus on the agent rather than the manager?
If we choose to focus on the agent, gamification is the clear choice.
Conventional wisdom is that gamification creates a competitive atmosphere driving overall better performance. However, this isn’t always true. Instead of attempting to improve everyone’s performance, let’s focus on the individual and let that person feel in control of their own performance. Someone in their first month shouldn’t be compared with the best agent, if they are, they would feel demoralized from an early stage and you would create the opposite effect. Most agents on the floor are in the middle-tier, therefore by motivating the bulk of your agents, there is a higher chance secure better results. Gamification addresses all types of learners through visual, analytical and verbal channels. By providing personalized learning and not segmenting, the ability to motivate is higher. Gamification is a game for one, like a fitbit for work.
Don’t forget other goals when thinking of a gamified program. Training and on-boarding employees is very important. Speed to proficiency is the goal for contact centers. The old model to enhance this goal was to teach agents quickly and get them out on the floor ASAP. The new model is expanding the goals and focusing on:
- Personalizing goals, beyond financial incentives.
- Personalizing feedback
- Direct learning
- Steady communication
- Opportunities to practice-not on the customers
- Time on the floor
This gives a new understanding on how agents can become more proficient and achieve high performance.