Happy call centre agents create happy customers. Happy agents are most likely to be motivated to put in their best effort and thereby are able to provide a higher level of customer service. Implementing the right motivation techniques is the key to improving your agents’ work quality and productivity.
So, before you think about how to boost your company’s ROI, you should first consider whether you have provided enough motivation for your agents to stay engaged at work.
Front-line customer service is not an easy job for anyone, and oftentimes, it can be mentally straining as workers are constantly under tremendous stress. Reports have repeatedly shown that the call centre is one of the industries most affected by high employee turnover, with average rates of 30% to 45% in the US.
Increasing motivation is a crucial factor that’ll help maintain call centre agent retention, whether it’s working from the office or home. Here we have provided ten effective motivation techniques for your call centre agents:
1. Set SMART goals
In general, businesses often make goals that set them up for failure by being either too generic or unrealistic. This is when the SMART strategy comes in to play to help businesses make clearly-defined goals, while making sure they’re reachable, and this applies just as much to call centres.
Instead of setting long term goals, divide them up into smaller objectives that are more manageable and attainable in the short-run for each team and individual. Having a clear goal in mind will help your agents better visualise the actions needed to achieve their goals while developing the motivations to follow through with their plans.
Furthermore, conduct performance evaluations on a regular basis with your agents, provide feedback for improvements, and be sure to celebrate them when a goal has been reached.
2. Implement the right tools and technology
Providing your agents with the right tools can effectively boost their productivity. But it’s easier said than done. There are many things to consider before finding the best solution for your employees.
You should first start by finding out what tools have been frustrating your agents, and that affect their productivity. Eliminate outdated systems, and then consider what the desired needs are for your team as well as what challenges you are trying to solve.
For contact centres, you’re likely supporting your customers through various communication channels such as live call, video chat, social media, and email. It is important to consider how well new tools will integrate with other channels currently in use, without affecting the whole system.
Tools like RingCentral, a powerful unified communication solution, ensures seamless multi-channel communication using cloud-based platforms, allowing call centre agents to effortlessly access all information needed from one place to address customer needs.
Additionally, having tools specifically for providing technical training and mobile remote support is beneficial for call centres and organisations in tech. When customers are having a hard time understanding how to use your product, setting up the communication portal, or encountering other technical issues, call centre agents can simply connect to their devices with permission.
They can then either walk them through the process or do it all for them. Utilising such tools helps effectively reduce time wasted on miscommunication while increasing the productivity of your support agents, as well as improving customer satisfaction.
Other powerful tools to boost productivity for call centres:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Automatic call distributor (ACD)
- Interactive voice response (IVR)
- Remote access and control software
- Team messaging software
- Reporting and analytics software
- Post-contact customer survey
3. Show appreciation
When you value your agents’ contributions to the company, it is important to display your appreciation for them and sometimes, a simple “thank you” is the most powerful way to fuel one’s motivation.
Many studies have proven that recognition drives productivity and that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated, whether that’s through verbal praise or action. After all, who doesn’t like to be known for what they are good at or have accomplished, after putting so much effort into it–people desire purpose and meaning from their work.
Other than thanking your agents in person, another good way for call centre managers to express their appreciation is to thank them in a public setting. Perhaps by saying a few words acknowledging their achievements in a weekly meeting or celebrating and recognizing their success on company social media like Facebook or Linkedin.
Some creative ways to show gratitude include sending them spontaneous treats or gift cards, hosting happy hour events, implementing a gamification system for rewards, offering flexible work hours or work-from-home opportunities, and so much more!
Appreciation that comes from peers can also be as important as receiving praise from managers. In fact, in most team-based organisations, the power of peer-to-peer recognition is 35% more likely to have a positive impact on the employee experience, as well as improving employee engagement and retention.
Build a community that highlights peer-to-peer recognition on a regular basis. For example, provide a fun and easy platform or programme dedicated to acknowledging other colleagues’ skills, deliverables, or talent. This will help to strengthen morale and reinforce a positive work environment, which will lead to greater motivation for your agents.
4. Offer rewards and incentives
Recognising and rewarding excellence are effective motivators to help boost performance while retaining employees. Letting your agents know of your appreciation for them by praising their hard work and effort can not only motivate them to work even harder, but also help to build their confidence in their job.
When agents believe in their own ability and that their hard work is adding value to the company, they will tend to feel more motivated to keep excelling and remain more engaged at work. In addition, it is important to make sure that your rewards programme incentivises the right results with the right revenue target. Avoid setting up a system that encourages your agents to sacrifice their own wellbeing.
There is no one perfect answer to what motivators you should use to incentivise your agents. It depends on finding a balance between your agents’ personalities and individual goals and the core values of your company.
It is also worth mentioning that, despite financial reward being an effective motivator, it is not always the best incentive and tends to only have a short-term impact on employee motivation. As a result, while designing a rewards programme, make sure to take all of these factors into account.
5. Invest in your agents’ happiness
At the end of the day, if your employees are constantly exhausted and unhappy with their work, it is most likely that they’ll lose motivation to work hard and eventually quit their job. A research study done by the University of Warwick found that “happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive”, showing that positive emotions are more likely to invigorate workers to perform better.
With that being said, the study also pointed out that “financial incentives aren’t enough to make for highly productive employees”, so companies should instead focus on what will truly make their employees happy from within.
A great way to make your agents feel supported by the company is to help them manage stress. Offer programmes or activities that are stress-relieving, such as playing board games or taking your team out for lunch.
Call centre managers can also take on initiatives to encourage discussions on things like work stress or mental health issues on a regular basis, giving their agents a free and open space to express their concerns. Doing so also helps managers get a clearer view on how to help their agents, rather than guessing what might work.
Moreover, companies should consider offering professional health benefits on top of employee insurance, such as fitness training or psychological counselling, that are available for their agents whenever they feel the need to seek professional help.
Related article: 10 Tips to Effectively Reduce Stress for Your Customer Support Staff
6. Let your agents’ voices be heard
Employee satisfaction is another crucial factor that has a significant impact on motivation. In order to truly motivate your agents, you must first understand their individual needs and wants–this all starts from sitting down and listening to their voices.
Encourage your agents to speak up about their thoughts and concerns, without having to fear social or workplace consequences. In other words, welcome your agents to give constructive feedback without criticising or patronising them, and instead, thank them for their comment and for being brave enough to offer it.
Additionally, ask them for their ideas on how to fix the problem, and be sure to take action immediately if appropriate. That way, when your agents see their voices have been taken seriously and they have the ability to influence decisions at work, they will be more inclined to put in their best effort for the department or the company as a whole.
7. Build a safe and open communication environment
Communication is crucial to all businesses and is one of the key factors to success. On the flipside, poor communication can lead to de-motivated and unhappy staff that will eventually hinder the company.
Creating a workplace that cultivates constructive and open communication helps to build trust and positive relationships. Unfortunately, many companies have failed to successfully create one. Implement these six principles to help develop and maintain openness in your call centre:
- Be transparent with information
- Encourage two-way communication
- Tackle problems head-on and right away
- Actively and routinely ask for feedback
- Sit down and listen quietly
- Engage with your agents on a personal level
8. Create opportunities for growth
Employees are more likely to stick around when they are satisfied with their job and continually growing their skills. Thus, do not forget to consistently invest in your agents’ growth. Offer them learning opportunities by conducting regular and updated training sessions; this will help to maintain their old skills while developing new ones.
In addition, providing a clear career path is another good way to motivate your agents. Understand each of your agents’ personal goals and how they’d like to grow with your company. Doing so can keep your agents engaged and motivated, and furthermore, keep your company’s turnover low.
Related article: 10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Experience in the Workplace
9. Build a fun work environment
An exciting workplace filled with fun memories will make your agents look forward to coming to work every day. According to Fast Company news, “fun in the workplace can also foster more positive attitudes, help teams become more cohesive, and help people deal with or recover from stressful work experiences, while also developing stronger relationships.”
It is only to your advantage to make your call centre an enjoyable place for your agents–the more fun your workers have at work, the more likely they’ll feel a sense of belonging and be inspired to be loyal to the company.
10. Encourage team-building activities
Team building activities are fun; they can often help to loosen up some stress for your agents, boost morale, and strengthen the relationships between your agents. Additionally, utilising different brainstorming games at work allows your workers to learn from each other and be inspired by others’ skill sets and creativity.
This can be challenging, particularly during the pandemic when most call centre agents now work remotely. Here are some fun team-building ideas that can be done both in-office and online:
- Friendly contest. Sports, board games, or online games can incentivise positive competition among your agents and encourage team collaboration.
- Customer service bingo. Use tasks achieved, postcodes, or types of problems solved for agents to check off each time they have completed an enquiry.
- Customer role play. Practice and improve ways to resolve conflicts while learning to empathise with customers.
- Never say never. Practice how to decline a customer question without actually saying “No” to them.
- Pictionary. Let your team guess the word by drawing it out; drawing is always a good way to help de-stress as well as practicing team synergy.
- Teammate trivia. Get to know your teammates more on a personal level via trivia questions.
- …and more!
These interactive activities can effectively help to bring your agents together and bond better as a big family, reminding them of their common goals through collaboration and communication.
Make your call centre the best
Motivated call centre agents lead to high engagement in work, and only motivated agents are able to provide top-quality customer service that ensures happy customers. Finding the right motivators may take a while, but it will certainly be worth your time and effort when it all works out.
Don’t be afraid to try out different methods until you find the ones that best suit your call centre agents and the company!