Published: June 20, 2018 | Comments
Over the past several decades I have been evaluating and analyzing different contact centers across the world. Sure, there may be a standard set of things I look at--training programs, supervisory practices, quality assurance processes, and so forth. However, I learn much more through observing the internal culture. Do the agents seem happy? Engaged? Do agents and management staff feel comfortable expressing their concerns? While it may not seem readily apparent, there is a distinct link between company culture and its' success. In fact, Forbes shows that companies with strong cultures saw a 4x increase in revenue growth. There's also a recent report from Glassdoor that shows companies named as "Best Place to Work" outperform the overall stock market and see a typical 0.75% jump in their stock prices.
In the contact center environment, culture can impact first contact resolution, service levels, quality, costs/profits, productivity and customer satisfaction. Whether the effect is positive or negative is up to you. By taking the time to understand your contact center culture, you can identify the areas in which your contact center operations are lacking. Once you can pinpoint these opportunities, you can take steps to transform your contact center culture. The next question is - where do you start?
Yes, you can throw more potlucks, decorate the office, or give out awards, but it takes so much more than social gatherings to improve culture. In reality, your culture transformation strategy starts with taking an individual and collective look at your agents. What learning & development opportunities do you offer? Do they have the tools they need to succeed in their everyday tasks? Do you provide them with consistent performance feedback? Do you provide your agents with a path to advancement? Let's take a look at a few ways you can transform your contact center culture and the customer experience.
Agent development is key to improving your contact center culture and the overall customer experience that your company provides. From the very first day that your agent starts New Hire training, his or her development should always be a continuous priority. One effective agent development practice is delivering consistent feedback and coaching. When you prioritize agent coaching, you create a culture of improvement and empowerment. It allows your agents the opportunity to improve their listening and problem-solving skills, which will, in turn, enhance the customer experience they provide moving forward. It also sends the message to your agents that you care about how they perform and that you want to take the time to help them improve.
Another agent development practice to cultivate is a mentorship or "promote-from-within" environment. When you pair an agent with a top-performing agent or with management staff, you provide them with invaluable career development opportunities. Mentorship gives your agents access to a successful individual within your organization and the chance to emulate their desirable qualities.
Looking for more ideas to tackle the tough issues of hiring, mentoring, coaching, and motivating? Join us at ICMI Contact Center Demo, November 12-14 at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. Be sure to check out the "Boost Your Culture" learning track.
Interactive Training Programs
Now that millennials comprise the largest segment of the American workforce, a recent PWC study shows that they rank training & development as the #1 most valuable benefit that employers can provide. Whether it's new hire training or on-going training, it is vital for you to utilize interactive training programs that consistently engage your agents. An effective, "gold standard" training program will use varying formats (face-to-face, gamification platforms, role-playing) and will provide a means of constant evaluation and feedback. It will also place significant emphasis on agent success and continuous learning. When looking at your training programs, would you say it meets these gold standards?
You want your agents to feel like they are supported during work, not like they're stuck all alone on a remote island! Collaboration tools are crucial to the success of your agents and the customer experience they deliver. A collaboration tool can be as simple as an Instant Messaging system that allows agents to reach out to supervisors if they have a question or need assistance with an escalation. Another option could be to consider a sophisticated ticketing system that allows agents to document call notes so that future agents can clearly see the customer's call history. Regardless of which collaboration approach you use, a culture of collaboration creates an environment of open communication and teamwork.
Learning & Development strategies are essential to drive your contact center culture, but it means nothing if your leadership is not engaged and invested. Senior leaders should be transparent, consistent, practice accountability, make smart hiring decisions that support a positive company culture, and cultivate an environment where feedback is encouraged. When leadership keeps lines of communication open, they send a fundamental message to the entire contact center: they value the opinions of their staff.