Published: January 15, 2013 | Comments (1)
Call after call after call after call. See how the monotony of just that phrase wore you out? What about your agents, day in, day out? Is it a surprise to anyone when they jump at the chance to do anything a little different? Or worse, burn out and look elsewhere for employment. As we look at agent engagement and the positive impact it has on the customer experience, variety can be a big game changer in your center.
You probably already have scheduled events like training and team meetings along with activities like special projects to break up the agent’s day. But what else can agents do in between calls, during idle time that doesn’t have to occur at a specific time? Here’s a quick list to get you thinking about activities that your agents can do to break up their day and improve your operations:
1. Back Office
How about back office tasks? This could help alleviate back office backlog, elevate the customer experience and provide variety by delivering back-office tasks like application processing, fax communications, processing returns, etc., to agents during call volume lulls.
2. Customer Community
Many of your customers are coming to your customer community looking for answers. If agents took time to participate in your customer community as an assigned task, not only would you alleviate boredom, you might end up avoiding some calls into your center – a win-win.
3. Social Media
What about social media? Many customer service and even corporate programs involving social media are siloed, but is that in the best interest of your customers? Certify agents to support customers or even just interact on behalf of your brand via social media to liven up their day and take your service to where customers are engaging.
4. Welcome Calls
Outbound customer calls are a great way to give your agents a chance to start a customer off on the right foot, and give the agent the opportunity to take a customer call without a "problem" attached to it.
Games can keep agents engaged, especially Generation Y. They can provide real-time feedback, transparency and goal-setting to improve performance along with a sense of achievement and social interaction. If you’re planning to capitalize on the growing gamification trend, make sure you give your agents time to earn and even redeem rewards through games.
6. Peer Awards
What if agents had time set aside to nominate their peers for rewards? Studies show that doing something nice for someone else boosts your mood, and rewards from your peers can mean more than those from management alone.
Exercise can keep your body and your mind sharp. Give agents a chance to make good on that New Year’s resolution to get healthy and give them a fitness break. A walk around the grounds or a short stair-climbing interlude can be just the thing to break up your day and get a healthy boost of energy to bring to your next call.
8. Training and CoachingTried and true activities like training and coaching have a dual purpose. Being prepared to do the job makes agents and customers happier. Ensure your agents get the communications, training and coaching they need to do their jobs well. And if you have a career development program, give your agents ample time to work towards their goals.
Many of you may think, "Great ideas, but when would that happen?" Most contact center managers want to make their center a better place to work for their agents, but when it comes to variety, they feel like their hands are tied. Time is tight, and service levels rule the day. If that’s the case, I’d challenge you to take a closer look at the manual processes around intraday management, all those actions you or your real-time desk take when staffing and call volume don’t quite match up with your forecasts. If you’re like most, you’ll find that you end up with almost an hour a day of available time when your agents could be working to improve your customer experience, your productivity and your agent retention. Automating intraday management can help you put that time to work.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas. What do your agents do during downtime? What could they do if you could make more idle time usable?