Getting the most out of Call Centre Agents – so much more than just Stats!!
This entry was posted on September 22, 2011.
Getting the most out of Call Centre Agents!
Traditionally, when you walked around an exhibition such as Call Centre Expo, you would be bombarded by developers and vendors of new software, encouraging you to focus your mind on productivity, and how much time the call centre agents actually spent on the phone. This was all well and good as a basic barometer of how many calls the call centre could achieve within a time frame, but failed to address the core essence of why we use them in the first place.
Call centres are an extension of the business that employs them, be it service based industries such as utilities, or direct sales. As such, the manner in which the message is delivered (i.e. the way the call is conducted) is key. The agents have to conduct the call in the style expected by the company whom they represent, and have the information, training, support, and mechanism to deliver the call, or enquiry, successfully.
To this end the shift is now towards the well-being of the agents themselves, rather than the sweat-shop culture that used to endure. Training is more proficient; equipment is up to standard & user-friendly; and a variety of incentive and reward schemes are in place. These factors combine to make the industry more palatable, the work more enjoyable, and provide a much more professional environment to work in. The net result of these factors is generally a better response from each call.
A simple incentive is a payment scheme. Call centre agents can be rewarded per successful order; by meeting targets throughout the day – by volume, by success rate, or values – judged against each other or against the clock. As well as the ‘carrot’ there is also an element of ‘stick’ that is employed. This means that the incentive can be withdrawn if minimum standards are not achieved. Effective and competitive, the agents know exactly where they stand.
Whilst financial incentives are good periodically, and can be geared towards specific times of the year (Christmas, Holidays etc), there is also a need to look at a more enduring scheme, for the day to day performance booster in the Call Centre. Replacing the ‘cash’ with ‘prizes’ is one idea – the latest gadgets being given away on specific focus days is one such idea.
An enjoyable place to work
For longevity, however, it is important to look at other call centre incentivisation techniques. Traditional workplace recognition schemes can be brought seamlessly into the call centre environment, with the ‘employee of the month’ be publically recognised and applauded. More cutting edge are the new ‘games’ that are being introduced, such as the ‘wallboard’ games. This takes the traditional wall board and changes it into recognisable games, the participants of which are the agents. They can then compete, via their calls, to see who can do best in the game.
Statistics are an inveterate part of the call centre industry. It is how they sell themselves, and it is how their success is measured. The problem to a certain extent has been the need to focus on this to the detriment of the real core of the call centre – the call centre agents. There is now, however, a change afoot, to use incentives, challenges, competitions, and individual and team recognition, to improve the performance and general well-being of this very valuable asset.