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Empowering Employees Through the Power of Personality

It’s no secret that the call center industry experiences lots of transition. Some estimate that the turnover rate for full-time call center employees is around 26%, however many experts in the field say that the number is actually much higher.

Turnover is one of today’s biggest staffing problems that call centers face, from a time, money and talent perspective – and it’s only going to get worse. More than 90 percent of millennials say that they don’t intend to stick with their job for more than three years, and over half of the job changes in the U.S. in November 2014 were due to people actively making the decision to quit or switch their jobs.

What does this mean for call-center directors? The employees have the power, and it’s up to customer service leaders to provide a culture that keeps morale high, effectively prepares agents to excel and keeps them challenged – in the right way.  Here’s how to do it:

Supporting Natural Communication

Everyone has gone to a cocktail party and found that there were some people that you naturally communicated well with, and others that you just didn’t jive with. The same happens in the call center – but here the stakes are much higher. Using traditional “first-available” routing, your agents receive calls from a variety of personality types. However, most agents will not be able to connect favorably with all personality types -- putting sales, customer experience and brand loyalty all in jeopardy. 

On the other hand, when using personality-based routing strategies, callers are routed to your agents based on how well that agent traditionally performs with that caller’s personality and communication style. Eliminating the barrier of a “personality mismatch” allows agents to focus on resolving the issue quickly and providing a high level of customer service. Doing so has shown to improve agent satisfaction as well as costs, sales, retention and customer satisfaction.

Understanding the Importance of Personality Pairing

It’s frustrating for anyone to do a job where they feel underappreciated or misunderstood. Unfortunately, traditional routing systems tend to create situations that do just that. Matching agents who think they’re being friendly by asking about a caller’s day, with a caller who is actually annoyed by small talk, can be a major blow to an agent. And when it happens over and over again, morale, happiness and job satisfaction all take a hit.

As an employer, it’s your job to provide your agents with the best resources to help them do their job well. Technology can be a major asset, but it’s not the only answer. Managers need to provide staffers with foundational training on how to recognize and respond to the different personality types that they deal with every day.

Here is a quick guide to the four major personality types according to the Process Communication Model®, and how they prefer to be serviced:

  1. Emotions: These types of people are compassionate, sensitive and warm. When talking with an agent they want to feel that the agent cares about them and the problem. In sales situations they’re often persuaded by emphasizing the benefits to people other than themselves.
  2. Thoughts: These types of people are logical, responsible and organized. Agents should skip the small talk with these people. They want to experience straight-to-the-point and efficient problem solving. When selling to them, focus on the facts, logic and analysis.
  3. Reactions: These types of people are spontaneous, creative and playful. They are often impressed by the fun or “cool” factor, and want an easy, hassle-free problem solving approach. Want to get them to buy? Make the process as easy as possible!
  4. Opinions: These types of people are dedicated, observant and conscientious. They expect respect and want to feel that the brand is as committed to them as they are to it.  When trying to sell to them, they’re persuaded by emphasizing quality, integrating and by providing them with high-quality references.

This is just a baseline and general explanation of the four major personality types. Take this information and try to tailor it to your specific business. Think about what each of these personality types is looking for from your brand, and how they may react to common situations that occur in your call center. Preparing your call center agents for the various ways that people may react to a situation helps to build their confidence and betters their chances of success. 

The employees that you want to keep around should want to be challenged and pushed, but it’s all about figuring out the right ways to challenge them. While it’s impossible to completely avoid frustrated and angry callers, agents can be better prepared to deal with the different personalities that call in.  And when equipped appropriately, agents can more reasonably be challenged with improving customer satisfaction scores, finding innovative solutions to customer problems and making sales that impact the business’ bottom line.