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The Secret to Agent Engagement: Empower Every Employee to Lead

"Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll land in the stars!"

That quote, attributed to both motivational speaker, Les Brown and inspirational author, Norman Vincent Peale, is about striving for lofty goals. It's also the driving force behind Heather Arthur’s success.

Heather Arthur, the Senior Director of Business Care at Rogers Communications (Canada’s largest telecom company), does exactly that. Her 1,400 person contact center shoots for the moon. They focus on stretch goals. As a result, they rocketed past their base revenue and NPS goals on their way to a highly successful year.

Heather Arthur, Rogers Communications

What is the secret to this level of success?

Employee engagement," says Heather. “We've seen a direct correlation to increased revenue and customer satisfaction. Happy employees are better able to handle difficult calls and solve problems. They share their happiness with customers. Their attitude makes them strong brand ambassadors.”

It’s no secret that more engaged employees contribute more effectively to their organizations. One telling measure of employee engagement is turnover/retention rates. Heather’s department boasted a 9% attrition rate last year, which is shockingly low in an industry where 30-40% annual turnover is the average.

What makes people on Heather’s team want to stay, work together and reach for stretch goals? Here are three keys that have contributed to their success.

Step 1:  Invite everyone to adopt a leadership mindset

Do your employees feel they “own” your business? Do they work like entrepreneurs striving to make things better or just muddle through each day? One of Heather Arthur’s prime goals is instilling a sense of ownership. The key message, at every level, is "this is my business and I own it!"

That message is backed by action. Agents spend an hour offline each week gathering in small groups to discuss problems and propose solutions. Their ideas are used to improve the customer experience. Seeing their ideas implemented helps agents feel more engaged.

Another core belief that fuels the Rogers team: results. Their mantra: “Next week, my results will be even better than this week.”

Why focus on weekly, rather than monthly results for agents?

“Using weekly results, feedback and coaching leads to faster incremental improvement,” explains Heather. “It provides 52 weekly opportunities for improvement, instead of just 12.”

She also encourages her team members to focus on personal development, by regularly asking this question: “Are you working on the future today?”

To ignite that personal development, Heather introduced “The Leader Who Had No Title” program by best-selling author, Robin Sharma. It encourages employees to be their best at work AND home: best parent, best friend, best community member. Employees feel empowered to step up to their title in LIFE.

“If we support our employees becoming the best human beings, they will become the best contributors at work, too.” The result is improved agent scorecards, faster career progression and even improved physical health,” said Heather.

Step 2:  Frequent praise leads to faster growth

“When you notice and recognize good behavior, those behaviors will be repeated,” said Heather.

Catching agents doing the right things and praising them reinforces that notion. However, managers are not the only ones giving out positive feedback. 60% of the praise on the Rogers Communication “High Five” internal recognition program comes from peer-to-peer recognition. Agents feel they are part of a family because colleagues compliment them on their performance. That family feeling is important to Heather Arthur. She views her leadership role as helping her “family” members develop and grow.

career growth

Step 3:  People feel more engaged when they are growing

Remember that 9% annual attrition rate? Most of the 9% who leave Heather’s department move to other positions within the company. Ambitious team members are excited when they are moving forward. To help foster opportunities for growth, Rogers Communications allows employees to take online courses related to any job they’re interested in at the company. Once they pass a required set of courses, they attend a “mix and mingle” event with specific Directors and Vice Presidents. These leaders are either recruiting or planning to recruit for those job roles. Being able to promote from within benefits the company and employees.

But does employee engagement end when team members leave Heather's department? Not at all.

“I make a point to congratulate my team members on moving forward in their career,” says Heather.

She also offers this final word of advice:  “Help others by taking what you have learned and teach it, be a positive ripple effect in the organization.”

Has your team approached employee engagement in a similar way? What’s worked for your contact center? Share your tips in the comments.


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