COVID-19 has forced many companies to transition their contact centers to enable remote work at scale. Equipping staff with the necessary home office equipment and facilitating network access is only the beginning. When employees find themselves away from their regular office setting, they may feel disconcerted and demotivated. Harvard Business Review reports that being forced to work from home reduces employee motivation by 17 points. What can companies do to keep their staff at their best? How can they drive engagement for remote employees?
Call Center Engagement ideas
Foster a culture of collaboration
A collaborative contact center is one where agents work together to make decisions and respond to customer requests based on group advice and guidance. Creating a culture of collaboration drives teamwork and a higher sense of morale for agents who see themselves as part of a bigger picture, working together toward a greater goal. Research shows that collaborative contact center work environments perform 50% better and reduce errors by 25%. In addition, agents working in a culture of collaboration display greater levels of motivation – 54% go above and beyond what is required – and display greater job satisfaction with a 17% higher intent-to-stay rate.
To facilitate a collaborative culture, companies can create forums for employees to share personal and professional updates, post questions and share advice with colleagues. Managers can assign collaborative tasks that encourage team members to stay connected and work together to meet specific goals.
For example, GitLab encourages its staff to take virtual coffee breaks in the form of video calls where employees connect informally to socialize around a virtual water cooler. Steyer Content, meanwhile, has implemented a virtual happy hour every Thursday when everyone kicks back with a drink and comes together to celebrate birthdays, hold informal contests, and share photos.
Ensure robust communication
During times of change or uncertainty, frequent communication is critical. Organizations that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to retain quality employees. Necessary top-down communications include setting clear expectations of WFH staff, ensuring everyone is aware of the latest company COVID-19 responses, and clarifying any new policies and protocols. Paulaner Brewery Group has used a special employee app during the pandemic to disseminate information to staff, such as travel guidelines and videos with tips for maintaining COVID-related hygiene.
Opening the lines of communication in the other direction is just as important. Companies can conduct periodic surveys on what employees think about the current way of working, enabling management to make changes that increase motivation. For example, DHL chose March 23rd — the day that the UK issued its official stay-at-home order – to survey its employees, asking them, “If you could change one thing about this company, what would it be?”
Provide access to innovative technology
A practical way to bring WFH call center staff closer together virtually is to invest in quality video conferencing and collaboration tools Other effective technologies include instant messaging apps and in-house social networks.
Companies can invest in technologies that improve the call center workflow, such as enabling agents to check the availability of subject matter experts, collaborate on FAQ documents, or access online internal knowledge bases. For example, Miro empowers multiple agents to work together on a virtual whiteboard, providing visual feedback in real time, making it an ideal tool for remote collaboration. Visual technologies – such as screen sharing and remote visual support powered by AR – that enable agents to better assist customers and collaborate with colleagues have been proven to be especially useful in remote working scenarios. For example, TechSee’s visual assistance technology allows agents to see what their customers see through their smartphone cameras, and visually guide them to resolutions.
Introduce fun through rewards and gamification
Keep WFH employees motivated by making tasks more engaging through gamification. According to Medium.org, 95% of employees enjoy using gamified systems and the market is expected to grow in the new normal with Technavio predicting it will increase by USD 17.56 billion from 2020 to 2024.
Companies can drive engagement with virtual team activities like online multiplayer games and quizzes, and offer team-based rewards, rather than individual ones. For example, when the team reaches a first-contact resolution rate over a specific threshold, or the overall NPS rises by a certain percentage, the entire contact center might be treated to a monetary bonus or an Amazon gift card. Israel-based Eloops allows employees to earn virtual coins which can be exchanged for rewards by taking part in surveys, quizzes, or speaking engagements, easing the transition to remote working.
Promote Health and Wellness
Helping employees maintain their physical and mental wellbeing goes a long way toward boosting motivation in the contact center. With many staff members forced to remain indoors for long periods with little or no time at the gym, implementing a health and wellness program for employees has never been more important.
Several companies are leading the way. Starbucks announced it would expand its mental health benefit program to include up to 20 therapy sessions for all US employees. EY grants employees free access to mobile apps for building emotional resilience and improving sleep habits, providing practical tips for managing anxiety and social isolation.
Beyond mental health, companies can take steps to facilitate the physical fitness of their employees. For example, Strava fitness app has a group feature that can be used to create a company-wide team, allowing employees to sync their activity data and participate in weekly or monthly challenges.
Transitioning to a remote work contact center can be unsettling for staff. Keep agents motivated and boost remote employee engagement by fostering a culture of collaboration between agents, ensuring robust communication between management and staff, providing access to innovative technology, introducing fun through rewards and gamification, and promoting employee health and wellness.
This post was first published on the TechSee blog.