Driving Agent Engagement

By Chris Recio, Inflow Communications Director of Contact Center & Advanced Applications

 

 NOTE: This blog is intended to educate those that work in the contact center space, as well as offer insight to those with various levels of contact center experience, from newcomers to seasoned professionals. This blog contains my thoughts and opinions based on the many years of my personal experience in technology and the contact center work place.

 

Creating a Culture of Success

The role of the agent is a critical role in any Contact Center and directly impacts the perception of your brand and the perceived level of service customers receive when making contact with the Contact Center. The job of the agent can become stale and mundane when attending to call after call, or interaction after interaction.

 

An important aspect of the Contact Center is creating a culture that involves the agent at many levels and, dare I say, has the power to create personal investment in the success of the Contact Center. Keeping agents engaged fosters a sense of teamwork, pride, and commitment to the overall success of the contact center.

 

Most individuals that take on a new job typically want to do a good job. I believe it’s in our nature to want to do well. We too enjoy recognition and a good, fun-spirited sense of camaraderie, and an opportunity for advancement. If you think about what makes you thrive, chances are those are the same things that help your agents thrive.

 

A key factor in any successful contact center is an active program or process of Agent Engagement. Agent Engagement can be easily stated as a commitment to ongoing communication and dialogue with those in the Contact Center. After all, the agents in the Contact Center are the front lines of the business to your customers.

 

While most Contact Center operations use wallboards, daily reporting, and real-time reporting to keep agents aware of the Contact Center’s overall successes and opportunities for improvement, these numbers in and of themselves can become mundane and often lose their impact without any further dialogue. Agent engagement is much deeper than the standard numbers often tout within the Contact Center.

 

In my experience, agent engagement can provide a consistent and solid foundation in striving for and achieving great success in the Contact Center. While there is no set formula for agent engagement, you would be surprised to learn that a great amount of creativity can create long-term excitement and individual personal investment in the overall culture of the Contact Center.

 

Here, I share some examples of creative ways to create excitement with agent engagement, keeping in mind that agent engagement does not necessarily incur a cost and can often use resources available to you today.

 

Agent Engagement in Timeshare Operations

Years ago, I worked for a vacation ownership company – a timeshare operation. In working with the Director of the Contact Center Reservations Group, I watched how agent engagement provided both opportunity and reward to agents which created a synergy among the Contact Center and ultimately created great experiences for the agent and the customer alike.

 

One of the most obvious yet never used before options was to ensure that the Contact Center agents really understood the service and value that was being offered to their customers. With that in mind, the Director of the Contact Center began offering weekend getaways to their agents at a local resort in Southern California, be it Palm Springs or San Diego.

 

As agents were taken on field trips to the resort, or as they were offered a weekend stay, agents got a first-hand look of the customer experience when visiting the resort. As part of the process, agents were invited to watch front desk clerks interact with guests (their customers) while also getting a better understanding of the how the information gathered at the time the customer made the reservation. Meanwhile, they too gained a new found respect for how important it is for the agent to gather appropriate information when booking the customer’s reservation. They found out that the front desk staff “really does look at the notes we gather” and this was a great affirmation that their job as reservationists was a very important role. They too understood how the front desk personnel used the information not as a critique for how they do their job, but rather, as a way to improve the overall customer experience and success of the company as a whole, and ultimately to create a dream vacation beyond even their expectations!

 

Each agent learned how their specific job affected others, and that together they were stronger than individually.

 

Engagement Through Inspiration

Another example of using agent engagement to create investment in success was the use of a Message of the Day. All agents in the Contact Center were always given open opportunity to offer an inspiring message of the day which was posted in the Contact Center with the name of the agent. Most everyone loves to “see their name in lights”, and it’s a great way to instill pride and excitement daily. You’d be surprised at how this simple gesture offered something to the agent, while also offering a break from the daily task of handling customer after customer.

 

Engagement Through Story-Telling

In yet another example, it’s often great to hear the personal stories that agents have and share. Everyone has a dream, and oftentimes you’d be surprised at the talent that emerges from within your Contact Center. It was not uncommon to share fun facts and stories during the weekly Contact Center Team Meeting. Each week a team meeting was held, complete with pot-luck breakfast and fun. In the Contact Center one of the agents dreamed of being on Broadway – yes, THAT Broadway! But who knew he had the voice and talent to live the dream. During one meeting, he shared that he was soon to be en-route to chase his dream, and he got up and sang for the Contact Center. To the surprise of everyone – he was really, really good. The entire team and Director were so thrilled to have him there that day and of course, they were WOWed at what they had just witnessed. It’s a story I recall from many years ago, but it still stays with me.

 

Agent Engagement does take on an expense, but I do believe it is absolutely critical in creating an ongoing commitment to the Contact Center, and it has the power to create a deeper level of investment to success on the part of the agent.

 

Agent Wallboards and Contact Center stats made available to the Contact Center is appropriate and should always be made available to agents. Everyone enjoys success and there is no greater reward than shared success. Instilling a sense of being part of a winning team is contagious and can be felt by your customers. While wallboards and statistical information is helpful in monitoring success daily, adding a deeper level of agent engagement can transform your Contact Center in meaningful ways. Wallboards should be updated daily to keep agents engaged!

 

A few more ideas for Agent Engagement:

 

  • Birthday Recognition – with Decorated Workspace
  • Personal Announcements – Wedding, Baby, Graduations, etc.
  • The Coveted Assigned Parking Space
  • Off Work Early 30-Mins
  • Agent Suggestions Box – Can be Anonymous
  • Display and Share Positive Customer Feedback
  • Swap Jobs for a Day/Hour, etc.
  • Create a Hero of the Month Program – Agents Nominate Each Other

 

Gamefication and Trends in Agent Engagement

Lastly, the latest trend in agent engagement is the concept of Gamefication. Simply put, Gamefication creates a Do-and-Reward recognition system, not too dissimilar from earning points or gold stars when incremental successes are achieved. There are a variety of Gemefication options worth a review.

 

The Key: Everyone enjoys recognition and being involved.

 

Find creative ways in your Contact Center to drive agent engagement. Think outside the box. You’d be surprised at what might be available right in your own environment.

 

Here at Inflow Communications we not only provide technology to enhance your Contact Center, we also work with our customers to provide valuable insight into the many ways to enhance the Contact Center experience for all involved, from the Directors, to the Agents, and of course, to the Customers. Each is an integral part of the operation and we so enjoy helping our clients reach their greatest success.

 

Click here to register for our online Contact Center Education Series provided by Inflow Communications.

 

About Inflow

Founded in 1997, Inflow is one of the nation’s top Unified Communications and Contact Center consultants in today’s market. Pioneers in cloud unified communications and cloud contact center success, Inflow is the first company to provide contact center consulting and training focused solely on helping you elevate your customer experience.

With over 200,000 endpoints supported under Inflow’s innovative success programs around the world, Inflow built its brand and reputation around providing unrivaled customer support. Inflow is in Mitel/ShoreTel’s top 2% in global customer satisfaction, and quickly acquiring a top spot with RingCentral, Genesys PureCloud and NICE inContact.

By partnering with Inflow, you can expect the highest level of strategic consultation, execution, and optimization available in the industry.