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In my last post, I wrote about the important role a contact center provides to a business. Without good service from your contact center, customer satisfaction suffers as does the overall business. In order to help achieve good service, companies must first satisfy those who run the contact center engine – the agents.
I believe in a simple idea, a satisfied agent will result in a satisfied customer. For any line of work, employee job satisfaction is an important performance motivator. This correlation is particularly true for an agent in a demanding contact center environment. Angry callers will take out their frustration on whoever is listening. That can make it hard to take the next call with a smile. As I said in my previous post, agents are the front line, delivering service to customers and providing a voice to your organization. If they’re unhappy with their job, or they feel undervalued, that attitude will show in their interaction with the customer.
For that reason, companies need to seek ways to improve agent job satisfaction. The best way to do so is by improving their work environment and empowering them to do their job well.
Allowing Agents to OWN their Performance
With today’s age of instant information, we want access to information now. Agents are no different. The contact center is a fast-paced environment, and agents will be more motivated to do well if they have access to their performance metrics throughout the day. A personalized performance dashboard gives that instantaneous feedback. By allowing agents to monitor their performance metrics in real time, they can take ownership of their performance and make adjustments to improve their numbers if they see a dip.
Supervisor feedback should also be instant, especially for the younger generation. Studies show that Gen Y embraces instant feedback, but may tend to discount input on something that happened yesterday.
Empower Agents to Balance Their Work and Personal Lives
Managing a work/life balance isn’t unique to any job type, but can be particularly challenging for the contact center agent. Unexpected time off can impact service, so the request process must be well managed to ensure enough agents are available when customers call. Companies should make it as easy as possible to allow an agent to adjust their schedule, request time-off and trade shifts, without getting bogged down in paperwork and approvals. If employees feel you respect their personal needs and work with them to manage that balance, you are likely to have fewer unexpected absences.
Say, for example, an agent forgot about a dentist appointment the following day. Give agents the ability to login to a workforce management system from a home PC or mobile device, and they can easily coordinate with another agent to trade shifts or make other arrangements, rather than call in absent.
Agent self-service is a win-win for everyone. It automates the process to reduce a supervisor’s time, helps agents manage their own schedule, and ensures that there’s someone to answer the phone when the customer calls.
Improving the Agent Work Experience
Software has changed. Whether it’s at work or at home, the expectation today is that software be efficient, accessible and intuitive. Anything less is sure to lead to frustration.
I can’t stress this enough – we need to continue to focus on how data is presented and interacted with for contact center employees. That means customizable interfaces so only the most relevant information is displayed to an agent, supervisor or manager. If I’m an agent, I want access to my schedule, my performance and my colleagues in a mouse click or two. If I’m expected to provide responsive service, the tools I use should comply, not slow me down.
If a business truly thinks about the agent experience, they can create a work environment that leads to satisfied employees and satisfied customers.