Top 11 Tips on How to Grow a Good Contact Center Agent
All companies rely on the strength of their greatest resource: their people. There isn’t a single successful enterprise in the world that doesn’t have a capable workforce. Getting a stable of engaged, capable agents is important for any contact center, but excellent employees don’t grow on trees. How exactly can you hire a team of excellent contact center agents?
The good news is, anybody can be a great contact center agent. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or education level is. What matters is a desire to perform, and a supportive leadership team providing the guidance needed to develop their full potential.
All teams start off a little rough around the edges, but with a proper game plan and the right support, you can transform your team of agents into a world-class beacon for customer service.
Here are eleven great tips to get you started on the road to a world-class contact center.
The Game Plan for Agent Growth and Engagement
Build an appropriate training plan - There are a lot of things you can do to develop your agents, but there’s no need to do everything and you should focus on a concerted plan that focuses on achieving the goals you want. This is the Pareto Rule: focus 80% of your efforts on the 20% of tasks that will make the biggest difference.
Adopt a leading management approach - It’s said that as leader you should never become friends with your employees. Managers learn to focus on results, but leaders still have to inspire people. Combining the by-the-numbers focus of managers while going with people-friendly approach of a leader is necessary to bring out the best in your people. You have to be a little tough, but not too tough on your employees.
Be flexible about agents' needs - Your employees are people to. Even if at the end of the day the company is about business, the fact is it’s people driving the company and people have needs. Pay attention to personal events, such as when there are family emergencies, doctor appointments, or a child's graduation. These are things that agents appreciate the most from their leaders. Make concessions when needed. They’ll make it up for you more than double when they get back.
Provide adequate work breaks and rest - It’s part of a worker’s job to get rest. Today, many of the companies in the world even mandate the use of vacation leaves. Be sure to give agents a breather. Contact centers are some of the most stressful work environments, so even moments like taking a smoke or coffee breaks are a big deal.
Provide scripts sand process aids - There’s a lot of information to process in most contact center interactions. Write up coherent call scripts and directions for how to answer customer concerns. This trains your agents on how to do their jobs properly, and it allows you to quickly improve the skill of multiple agents at a time with minimal effort.
Provide equipment for a comfortable work environment - The painter does not blame the brush for a poor painting, but a good brush certainly helps. Providing proper tables, computers, headphones, and other office equipment for agents to do their job properly and in a healthy manner go a long way in engaging your agents and making them stay with the company. Creating a comfortable and healthy work environment is paramount, especially in call center settings that require a quiet environment to take calls.
Resolve difficult customer situations - Nothing kills an agent’s drive more than to find out that their efforts are not making a difference. In customer service the raison d’etre is to help people with their problems. If your company isn’t able to resolve situations for your customers, agents quickly feel that their work has no value. This also means that management has to have supervisors ready to take difficult calls and resolve them when necessary.
Provide emotional control training - Handling customer concerns can be highly-stressful, more so when the customer is irate. The importance of training to help identify, control and defuse these kinds of customers is essential to any contact center agent. Teach them how to de-escalate difficult situations and they will grow into excellent agents.
Encourage your agents by giving bonuses - Much of the appreciation you can give your people is non-monetary. A pat on the back, a smile at the start of the day, and inclusiveness on the floor. But nothing motivates quite like actual bonuses. Be sure to include some bonuses for excellent performance, and make sure the mechanics and target metrics are clear, fair, attainable, and help supercharge your agent’s enthusiasm and drive.
Have regular team-building activities - You know what they say about all work and no play. Aside from providing a change of pace from the usual office work, outside activities like games, trips and eating out help create rapport between your team members and leadership. These activities are essential to any team and should be allocated for.
Hire more agents than you may need - Nothing saps the will of an agent like looking at the incoming call, chat or email queue and seeing hundreds of calls waiting. In cases where holidays, sick agents, and other unforeseen emergencies cause staffing inadequacies, it’s always good to have a buffer. This way when some agents are out of work, the others left working won't be overloaded.
Creating a strong team can be a challenge, but it’s a worthwhile one to undertake. By following these tips you can get a good start on making a world-class contact center with fully-engaged agents offering the best customer experience.