A productive contact center takes time and effort to cultivate, but as productivity increases, so do your customer’s points of contact with your company or brand. In a lot of industries, call centers are the first point of contact with customers or potential customers. This means creating an environment that is conducive to success is crucial.
The best way for call center managers to take care of customers is, first, to make sure that each agent is being taken care of. You’d be surprised at how much of a positive impact the well-being of your employees can have on their ability to connect with and meet the needs of callers. The opposite is also true; a negative call center working environment can cause employees to subconsciously push customers away.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the elements that have the greatest impact on a contact center’s culture and environment. The time and resources you put towards implementing these best practices will pay massive dividends in your employee’s productivity in the long run.
How to Build a Productive Call Center Environment
The key to building a productive environment within your contact center is to provide continuous training and support to each of your agents. The more you invest in your employees, the more they’ll invest in your customers. Here are five ways you can support your employees so that they are more productive:
Good communication between a team leader and agents begins the moment they step into the call center on their first day. Create an onboarding process that teaches new hires exactly what is expected from them each day. Assist them as they begin working with customers. Make an effort to celebrate their successes with their peers. Fostering an environment of encouragement will help agents feel welcome and build team unity.
When you need to make corrections to an employee’s behavior, do so clearly and in private. There should be no question about what the agent needs to change to improve, so be sure to avoid ambiguity. An agent should never walk away from a discussion no knowing what the next step is. Be sure to avoid making feedback personal, as this will damage your relationship with agents.
Take advantage of every opportunity to sincerely praise employees on what they are doing well so that when correction is necessary, they know that you are paying attention to their good work as well. Avoid only dishing out compliments in a canned “compliment sandwich” manner; be positive always, and give corrective feedback only when necessary.
Working at a contact center is hard work. Call center agents have to make dozens of decisions each hour so that the caller’s needs are being met. If employees have to approach their manager every time a question arises, it creates a bottleneck that stifles productivity and can cost the company greatly.
During the hiring process, you hopefully identified strengths in each agent. Permit your agents to solve problems on their own as they relate to these strengths. For problems outside these strengths, guide agents and always give them support when they ask. Encourage them to think creatively and outside of the box as they interact with callers.
The more autonomy a call center agent has, the more they’ll be excited about their conversations with customers. They’ll invest more emotionally in each interaction. They’ll want to help customers solve their problems because they’ll feel better about themselves when they do. Empowered employees often figure out the solution to a problem that has been keeping their managers or executives up at night.
A key component of the call center working environment is the room where agents spend their time making calls. Giving proper attention to improving the physical environment will create an atmosphere your agents enjoy working in.
Take a moment tomorrow to walk the floor, and make observations of:
- Is there natural or artificial light?
- Are the call center agents crammed into the space or is there enough room for them to do their work comfortably?
- Is there a break room?
- Do employees and managers share the same space, or are they separated?
- What colors are on the walls?
- What other furniture or decorations occupy space?
- Sit at one of your agent’s desks and put on their headset. Is the chair comfortable? Is the headset fit to wear for hours at a time?
Once you have made a thorough audit of your contact center’s physical environment, you should be able to make decisions about how to improve it. You may also consider hiring an interior designer or agency to consult with you on how to make your employee’s workspace a place they enjoy spending time.
Another component of the work environment is how agents interact with each other. Managing a call center requires the ability to ensure the work gets done while simultaneously encouraging unity and teamwork. Look for opportunities to create collaboration between employees by providing space and time for them to interact with each other.
Breaks & Shift Management
A contact center agent is constantly exerting emotional and social energy to provide the best customer service possible. Agents are too often overworked, which leads to dissatisfaction with their jobs, and, ultimately, burn out.This is a problem for call centers because high turnover rates are extremely costly. The way you manage your agent’s breaks and shift schedules can save money and increase productivity.
Create a breakroom space away from the call floor that is simple and comfortable. Encourage agents to take breaks during the day. Be aware that if breaks are taken too frequently with multiple agents, it can have a drastically negative effect on productivity. If you notice this behavior, make corrections as needed (*see communication section above).
Shift management (the process of setting schedules and dividing work) is an important skill call center managers must develop to maximize their agents’ productivity. Take a look at your employee’s work activities and find ways to break up their day so they avoid burnout from doing the same thing over and over again. An easy way to start is to have a daily 15 minute-training session in the afternoons to encourage agents to stand up and recenter their focus.
The use of technology in a contact center, as in all businesses, has revolutionized the potential for employee productivity. There are so many tasks that can be automated, such as dialing, directing calls, and collecting performance metrics. Software that takes care of repetitive tasks can free up your agent’s resources to focus on what matters most: helping the customer.
Today’s modern technology can open the door to opportunities that would otherwise be impossible. For example, Hiya Connect utilizes a modern hyperscale cloud infrastructure that allows contact centers to enjoy a secure connection without worrying about on-premise solutions. Set up takes mere days (gone are the multi-month onboarding periods of the past), and the self-service platform makes for efficient number management and data access. Hiya Connect also measures and tracks industry-standard KPIs like answer rates, call attempts and duration, while providing actionable insights based on data.
We live in a data-driven world. The only way to improve productivity is to analyze where performance is unproductive, then make the necessary adjustments to improve. If you are a contact center manager, spend time learning about and becoming familiar with the metrics that will drive the most revenue for your business. Then, find software that will help you track and analyze those metrics.
An important element of creating a productive working environment is to provide incentives that reward employees for high performance. Extrinsic motivators can unify agents across the organization and provide a powerful push when the workday gets long.
Consider throwing a quarterly celebration in honor of your employees. This doesn’t necessarily have to be high-cost, but do your best to create an experience that will motivate your agents to continue to go above and beyond. Have fun with this and remember that any time you put more effort into your employees, it almost always results in your employees putting more effort into wowing your customers.
Benefits of a Positive Call Center Environment
Having a positive work environment has an enormous impact on the bottom line. When employees are satisfied with the work they do each day, they work smarter and avoid burnout. They find ways to optimize their workflow to focus on what will create the best experience for their callers. They understand what the company’s mission and goals are and strive every day to achieve them.
Productive work environments also cost less. As your contact center’s productivity increases, you’ll notice that turnover rates decrease, as well as employee absenteeism, burned accounts and other costly symptoms of unproductivity. Your customer satisfaction will also increase as your caller needs are met better. The improvements you see will far outweigh the investments you make in time and resources from applying these best practices.
As a contact center manager, you may be wondering what the next step is for you to improve your call performance. While this article addresses the best practices for a productive contact center environment, it is far from a comprehensive guide. Productivity requires a constant awareness of every aspect of your call center’s performance.
If you want to learn more about how to get a pulse on your team’s output and know which levers to pull to improve your overall performance, download our Call Center Metrics eBook.