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Agent Perspective: Worthless or Worthwhile?

This post originally appeared on the Call Center Weekly Blog, and was submitted by an anonymous agent.

When you're a call center agent, each day begins the same way. You log into your programs, put your headset on and turn on your phone.  If you're like me, taking the first call of the day means so little to you because you take hundreds of calls a week, and most of the calls are exactly the same.  The work environment and culture of a call center determines whether taking these calls feels worthless or worthwhile.

I work in a fairly large call center (over a hundred reps) that has no workplace morale or culture. I’m not just saying that to be dramatic – I actually received a letter from the president when I started saying that the company is not concerned with building morale, but only with providing service for our customers.  Truthfully, I never knew much about contact center culture until recently when a close friend of mine, a manager in a different call center, began dissecting my work complaints and suggesting how I, a lowly tier one rep, should advise our management on changes.  Truthfully I haven’t taken much of it to heart because I do not see myself with this company for an extended period of time.  And this, as stated by my friend, is where the problem lies… decent and hardworking employees like me leaving companies because they do not empower or appreciate us.  

Not surprisingly, my center has a huge turnover rate.  Since I was hired 7 months ago, we have taken on somewhere over a hundred new reps, granted to fill new shifts, but nonetheless people are rolling in almost daily.  Our company boasts strong customer service but, honestly, we don’t track it.  We don’t have any programs, surveys or data proving that our customers find our service strong.  The only way we are evaluated is by the number of calls we take and the amount of time we're not availble to handle calls, which includes break time and time doing any after call work.  This method of evaluation doesn't motivate me or my fellow coworkers to do great work.  Most of us don’t care about call totals or availability, because these have no real impact on us, and doing good work goes unnoticed.  We don’t get an award for the most calls taken or even a nod from the manager, or a "job well done" – we are simply “drones” as my peers say.  

The point of me sharing my experience is to give contact center managers some insight.  If your center is run anything like mine, chances are your employees are miserable and constantly looking for another job.  Without a strong company culture, your agents start to hate the customers, the management, and their coworkers.  They complain about work all the time and consider becoming servers, retail workers, or even janitors (I have heard this before) to get out of the thankless job.  

Creating culture, and morale, in your center and genuinely caring about your reps can make a huge difference in customer and employee satisfaction, and save your company a ton of money in the process.  Hiring new people isn’t cheap and training them is practically a fortune – but if you try to keep the good employees around, they will then garner a positive work environment for the next round of reps (when the time comes to hire again).  Simple things can create a sense of pride in the company and result in better representatives of your company on the phones.  Your agents may not be making any big decisions, but they are the voice of your company and if they aren’t treated with respect and appreciation, I guarantee they won’t treat your customers with it either.  

Put yourself in the shoes of your reps, and invest in making your agents feel their careers are worthwhile, not worthless.