Despite many advances in call center practices over the years, one burning question remains at the heart of most organizations keen on continuing to bolster and optimize their customer service function: How can we improve call center productivity?
Call center leaders are continually under pressure to reduce costs and run their businesses at maximum efficiency. And therein lies the problem, while efficiency is an understandable goal, it is ultimately counterproductive when it is delivered at the expense of employee morale.
More hated than traffic wardens
According to a survey of the most hated professions conducted by Solopress.com, call center agents rated worse than traffic wardens.
It’s not surprising that the drive toward ever-increasing efficiency has heightened the belief that call centers are one of the most miserable places to work; staffed by unfulfilled, unmotivated and unhappy employees who are under the cosh to take more calls, yet denied the ability to truly help customers.
Many leaders believe they can motivate employees through competitive salaries, incentives and benefits; but these are simply short-term distractions that distract staff from the disengaging nature of call center work, leading to even more detriment to morale.
This disengagement has a huge impact on productivity and efficiency, as unhappy employees have no vested interest in the happiness of their customers, or the needs of the business. To add fuel to the fire, when call center leaders see customer dissatisfaction increasing, they simply turn up the heat on their employees, who consequently become increasingly unhappy.
It’s a vicious circle call centers need the help of HR to break out of.
Happy staff = Happy customers
None of the above will come as a surprise to HR professionals. By its very nature, HR aims to deliver a holistic methodology that looks at the wellbeing and engagement of employees at every level.
Successful workforce engagement requires that HR thinking and practices are an integral part of the operational management process, not merely an afterthought.
Furthermore, in order to create engaged, efficient and happy staff, a dedicated workforce engagement programme requires tools that work across all the practices, approaches, and technologies.
By treating every employee as a valued individual and rewarding them appropriately, it simultaneously motivates employees, increases efficiency and delivers an unrivaled customer experience.
Fully-engaged employees often make the difference between a successful call center and a struggling one, as they consistently do everything they can to ensure the success of the business, as well as looking after the wellbeing of those they work with.
An increasingly customer-centric future lies ahead
Call centers are now having to adopt multi-channel capabilities, as well as dealing with rising customer expectations.
As the demands on employees increase, a fully engaged workforce is vital to meet this challenge. Whether it’s answering the phone, replying to a customer email or communicating through social media, it’s essential that agents feel good about themselves and proud of the work they do.
Anyone that questions the importance of this work, need only refer to the 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report; which states that a 75% of organizations view the contact center as a key differentiator.
HR must be at the very core of call center practices. By developing agents as individuals, giving them credit for results, praising efforts and rewarding them when they succeed, organizations can ensure that every single employee is engaged and motivated.
Then and only then are we in a position to focus on improving call center productivity.