Although technologies in the areas of Enterprise Communications and CaaS (Communications as a Service) have advanced immensely in the last decade, most contact centers are still using traditional methods to manage their workforce.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it creates a lot of overhead for call center managers and supervisors. For instance, coaching is a vital and continuous activity, and one of the key areas that requires a large investment in time in order to show results. I am not suggesting that technology can replace hands-on coaching by a seasoned, experienced contact center manager, but rather that the right technology can help increase the efficiency in planning and executing on a sustained coaching program.
Contests are another important activity, often used to increase the level of agent engagement in their work, as well as reward those that deserve a genuine thanks for their service; by rewarding agents that make an effort, that improve in key areas, or simply setting up a friendly challenge to provide a bonus to the employee with the highest customer satisfaction rating, you are creating a team environment with all the right elements: healthy competition, collaboration, and short-term, easily identifiable goals.
But instead of using a whiteboard or sending out emails, a better, more efficient approach could be to post contests in a central location online – allowing for both local and remote workers to participate equally – the same way you might create an Events page on Facebook. You can ensure everyone is involved, provide a platform for their voice, comments, likes, encouragement between peers, and never lose track of their progress and results.
Training is also an ongoing task, and one that in my experience, never gets the time and attention it deserves. From hastily put-together classes to always-on-duty disruptions, I have seen it all. When I was a facilitator for system administrators in my earlier career, I witnessed students get up and leave because their phone or blackberry beckoned from their manager’s office, only to rush back later to gather notes and course materials.
Where I have seen real progress and effectiveness with training programs is when you can provide them online, in-app, or within a self-paced environment. The theory behind what is referred to as a VARK methodology, and it’s been proven across organizations to work, is much the same as with one-on-one coaching. Each individual is given the tools they need to succeed at their own pace, using a mix of media (such as text, video, and sound), without feeling the pressure to keep up a pace set by a larger group.
Now, one of the unintended side-effects of emerging technologies is added complexity. Performance Management dashboards can be pretty overwhelming to navigate. And a lot of reports generated by contact center systems, like IVRs, ACDs, CTIs, CRMs, among others, are often disparate and challenging to parse. Technology should make it easier and less time-consuming to extract useful information from raw data. Thankfully, there are solutions for that as well.
Make sure you look an analytics application that brings all of those reports together, integrating their output into a single interface. Bring in the results from your training, coaching, quizzes, and you can then map those activities with the performance trends for each agent on your team.
To summarize, try gamifying your collective, overall approach to technology: use rewards, recognition, and incentive-based performance optimization programs to get everyone working towards a common goal. Create the immersive experience to get interest levels up, and leverage online, automated mechanisms akin to social media in order to maintain your momentum. Remember that while a slick interface can create the initial buzz around your mission, the social aspect of collaboration needs to be maintained and promoted as well. From a game mechanics point of view, it’s important to ensure that every trigger, result, and challenge within your technology stack leads directly to progress and improvement in work-related objectives.
Bring today’s social reality, and the technology expectations of the workforce, to your contact center by leveraging the relatively inexpensive and abundantly available cloud-based solutions that will add value to your agent’s daily tasks, and reduce your manager’s overhead by a considerable factor.
And don’t forget to erase that whiteboard before last month’s contest becomes permanently etched on its surface…