Successful Contact Center Incentive Programs Start with Automation
| Published: February 11, 2015 | Comments
So, there’s buzz in the contact center around a new incentive program to improve agent performance and engagement. Then, maybe a month after kick-off, everyone returns to their busy daily routines and fire fights, momentum disappears, and it’s “back to normal.”
Incentive programs are great in theory, but ask contact center executives why they don’t have one and most will say it’s because they simply don’t have enough time to keep them going. Though there is no shortage of great ideas about what motivates agents, without consistency in execution and follow-up, these programs eventually fizzle.
In today’s busy contact center environment, where time is a scarce resource, how can executives create and execute incentive programs that help agents and coaches meet their performance goals?
“No Time” is No Excuse
When it comes to incentive programs, some would say scheduling is the answer, but we all know how that goes. Take a look at training and coaching first. If these types of activities are scheduled, consider the volume of training being completed before adding incentive type activities to the schedule. If scheduled activities are often cancelled and later rescheduled due to heavy volume, it’s likely that scheduled incentive programs will also be pushed to the back burner.
If your company leverages Intraday Automation technologies, like customer operations teams at Sprint or The General Insurance, then time for training and coaching is delivered during down time. And, incentive driven activities can be as well.
Let’s say you have an important product release coming up or agents need to complete regulatory training with a non-negotiable deadline. In order to have everyone up to speed and in compliance, you want to add an incentive to motivate agents to complete and certify to meet an “early bird” deadline, leaving breathing room if some agents need additional help. You can set up business rules to have agents complete the training during idle time between calls.
To monitor progress, business rules can be set to send alerts to managers or supervisors if agents do not complete or pass training courses. Early intervention alleviates the chances of missed deadlines while ensuring agents have the knowledge they need to provide great service to customers. In result, you look like the hero.
Rewarding agents based on other key performance indicators like sales goals, for example, can also be an administrative burden, as supervisors must manually comb through performance metrics. By leveraging business rules, once a predetermined threshold is reached, supervisors receive an automated alert that an agent reached his or her goal. Supervisors can then provide immediate feedback and public recognition to keep momentum going.
Minimizing Customer Wait Time and Maximizing Agent Efficiency
In the tightly scheduled contact center environment, a day rarely unfolds according to plan. Incentivizing agents with an afternoon off or a lunch on the company proves especially difficult when the customer demand machine is highly unpredictable.
Most contact centers today still monitor and manage call volume and staffing manually, creating inefficiencies by design. Customers seeking service in multiple channels face longer wait times while agents sit in silos. Say a customer is looking for assistance on social media, but agents sit idle, only tuned into the phones. The manual processes in place cannot keep up. Thus, customers spend needless amounts of time waiting to connect and agents spend their work hours unaware of customer seeking assistance.
To avoid these situations, where the fragmented internal operations lead to downtime for customers, organizations can unify and automate the process. Powerful customer center tools can respond to demand in real-time, by moving available resources from one to channel to another when volume in one channel increased. Taking it a step further, if the call volume requires it, quickly deployed overtime offers ensure available additional staff. On the flip side, lulls in activity automatically offer agents the chance to leave early since they are flagged in the system as recipients for voluntary time off.
Reinvigorate Coaching Programs
There is a link between agent performance and the time managers spend on development activities. A major contributing factor here is the fact that the manual process surrounding schedule adherence typically falls to the management team and supervisors.
Today, companies can leverage technology to automatically accommodate to acceptable schedule exceptions such as breaks, customer interactions running long, etc. Coaches now can spend vital time on training agents in performance. Additionally, supervisors can manage real-time schedule changes. For instance, by writing some basic business rules, they can receive notification of automatically adjusted shift times in the case that an agent logs-in late or on a day they are not scheduled to work, or uses a designated toll free number to call in sick.
By automating these processes, supervisors gain the support they need to meet their coaching goals and spend time with their agents. In doing so, not only is their workforce empowered, but supervisors stand to gain monetary rewards.
Cast a Wider Net with Gamification
If you are not already using gamification in your contact center, you are missing out on an opportunity to reach a large spectrum of agents that appeal to the prospect of achievement and reward.
Games break up the monotony of the day – and in turn contribute to reducing attrition and boosting motivation. Gamification serves to engage agents and ultimately recognize those in your customer facing workforce demonstrating outstanding performance.
As processes transform from manual to automated and staffing moves from fragmented to a balanced model that meets customer demand across all channels, gamification can easily incorporate into the daily workflow of contact center’s tight schedule.
No matter what the reward, the primary goal of the contact center is to provide customers with an outstanding experience. By leveraging Intraday Automation technology, contact centers create can invest more time into the professional development of their agents and ultimately improve performance and productivity. The natural byproduct of this is improved customer satisfaction.
Incentive programs prove beneficial to employees need and business needs. And prove most effective when approached with a holistic view as a program that can increase agent morale while taking into account training and staffing considerations. By automating these processes and eliminating the “no time” excuse, agents and supervisors are more engaged by the incentives you’ve designed to help attain your contact center goals.
Intradiem is the leading and only complete Intraday Automation software-as-a-service company for frontline workforces, including Contact Center, Back Office, Retail and Mobile, focused on helping companies improve customer experience, grow revenue and decrease costs. Intradiem's patented technology makes real-time adjustments to customer-facing workforces by interpreting data from existing, siloed systems and triggering actions based on changing business conditions. These real-time adjustments equate to significant business benefits. More than 50 global brands and 200,000 frontline workers trust Intradiem's solution every day.
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Culture & Morale, People Management, Workforce Management
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