CONTRIBUTOR: LUKE TODD CUSTOMER INSIGHTS CONSULTANT & SPEAKER. FOUNDER & DIRECTOR AT LUKE TODD & CO. this POST was CO-AUTHORED BY KELLY McSHERRY, DIRECTOR & BUSINESS COACH AT LUKE TODD & CO.
Getting the culture right in your contact centre that’s aligned with your brand is essential. Here you’ll find top tips on how to make your contact centre a centre of excellence for customer service.
Having a buzzing and energetic culture not only keeps your agents engaged and focused, it also brings significant cost benefits too! So, how can we get the best from these essential members of the team? Here are really simple (and essential) ideas to get the best from your agents now and in the future improving the culture of your contact centre.
No. 1 – Recruitment
It all starts here!
Boring job adverts attract boring people and you need energetic and vibrant applicants. Design an advert that’s cheeky, exciting, engaging and dynamic and watch the difference in the people that apply. When you come to interview candidates in the traditional way – name 2 strengths and 2 weaknesses – will allow boring people to shine.
An assessment centre approach means you can assess a broad range of skills and behaviours at the same time and will allow dynamic candidates to really shine. If the assessment isn’t work focused you have the ability to mix internal and external candidates and will see some really interesting dynamics.
Hire those people that are passionate and interest you.
No. 2 – Structure
As you grow there is a tendency to add more managers, is that really necessary? More managers mean more management and often that is contradictory to an awesome culture.
Invest more in support staff, like customer service coaches and analysts. Team Leaders really should be responsible for the staff in their team, don’t mix up their roles by giving other duties. Underestimating the impact a Team Leader can have on their team will mean you have underestimated the impact of happy staff. Team Leaders should report into really engaging motivating supporting managers, who assist Team Leaders and manage the operations. Clear lines of responsibility are key.
No. 3 – Staff duties
What do I do, when do I do it and how can I do it are all important thoughts in your teams. Make sure you are investing in a great scheduling team. We know what is right for the business but this also needs to work for the staff too. We want them to have a really great work life balance, too few companies consider and provide this. Agents will stay with us if we can give them some structure at work and more importantly when they don’t.
Multi-skilling not only helps the business with efficiencies but also keeps staff engaged by providing variety. Its not one-size fits all though, remember some staff are better with emails and phones and others are good with emails and live chat, so play to strengths.
Team Leaders should have regular 1-2-1s with their teams, check-in and make sure everything is okay. Encourage them to be better, and coaching them when things aren’t going well. Use action plans to address development needs rather than jumping straight into HR processes.
No. 4 – Development
Businesses rave about succession planning but that’s usually just about risk management. If we are good at this, by focusing on staff development we create an engaging motivational environment that also caters for succession. Identifying potential through managers and Team Leaders is key. Remember, if someone went through the recruitment process but didn’t hit the grade they may still have potential. Once identified, spend time talking to these staff to make sure they are aligned with the direction you see for them and come up with a development plan.
Go crazy by investing time and exposure for them. Where is the development gap between where they are now and where we all want them to be? Lets plug those gaps by exposing them to things that help. Not many businesses invest in the next generation of staff; they are too busy developing those who got the roles. (StrengthsFinder is a great tool for this).
No. 5 – Communication
Alongside dedication, communication is what you need to be a record breaker! Email communications in large centres are ineffective, in small centres it’s impersonal. We need to ensure consistent messages are delivered so email can be used but only as a follow up to some really powerful verbal communications.
Use at ‘buzz sessions’ (grab everyone together for 5 minutes to update on the big issues) each day (or 3 times a day in a 24/7 centre). Call out important issues and highlight changes, literally get up and shout about it! Use television monitors where necessary to show rather than just talk about it. Some people absorb information when they see it rather than when they hear it.
Staff need to feel connected to the department and the buzz helps with, but they also want to feel connected to the business, this is particularly important in Customer Service operations. Customer Service departments hear a lot of negativity every day. Having the chance each month to step away form it and hear from business leaders on the direction of the business, upcoming features/products and the positive things that are coming will keep staff upbeat, engaged and connected.
No. 6 – Management
Pick your battles carefully!
All too often we see team managers ‘checking’ agent toilet breaks, call durations, coffee making, catching up chatter. Remember your staff are human beings – adults in fact! Think about that, if the job is getting done and done well, what areas should I still worry about? It’s not what’s already been spoken about!
Bonus Tip – Be Fun, dynamic, engaging
Introduce competitions, Fun Fridays with prizes. Team incentives and competitions work really well if you reward the whole team – top teams wins a team go karting event for example. Individual incentives are great to engage individuals, especially if the prize is bigger. Include team leaders so they can really focus their teams to push for the individual prizes.
Fun Fridays are just a way to introduce some fun either each week/month (depending on budget) that lift the spirits in the centre, if it’s monthly, use a theme. If your centre is multi-channel, can you allow the staff to have some music on the floor? If yes, this is a great way to introduce some energy; random moments watching your call centre floor dance to YMCA whilst taking calls is amazing! Remember to have fun yourself; call out incredible people who work for you, incentivise everyone equally to win a prize. Most of all ensure all of your team enjoying coming to work! They are working with their colleagues (friends) and if they’re having a great time at work your customers will also be fun, dynamic and engaging. It’s a massively positive self-fulfilling prophecy!
Contact centre culture is key to delivering an outstanding customer experience. It will ensure not only the loyalty of your agents and management but also, and importantly, your customers. You can see from the points in this blog that you’ll significantly reduce costs and that means a healthier bottom line!