Published: January 04, 2021 | Comments
When I took calls as an agent and was moved to a new section of the contact center, I was struck by how tired I felt after my shift.
It was my first year at the contact center, and the calls were the same, with the same level of challenges. What was different were my neighbors, the agent in front laid her head down between calls, and the other to the right of me was rude to callers and quite negative while off the calls. My team lead was pleasant, but we usually saw her when our monthly quality assurance (QA) scores had to be handed out.
About six months later, I had been moved to another section of the contact center, and the change was pronounced. My neighbors were a fun group, ordered food weekly, joked during downtimes, helped each other through challenging calls, and so on. There was a sense of camaraderie. And since I moved to this new section, I got a new team leader who talked to us between calls.
There is a term for what I was feeling - emotional contagion - the idea that the feelings of those around you can impact your feelings and your productivity. Even if your contact center has moved to a remote setting, your agents and you could be prone to emotional contagion; this is because we feed off the emotions and energies radiated from chat messages, calls, emails, and interactions leaders, and so on.
Now emotional contagion is good to have if this is positive, as it helps to take care of our well-being and that of our colleagues. Just like with central heating and cooling, we as leaders can take steps to regulate the emotions in our contact centers.
Here is how:
If you notice an agent having a challenging call, go over and see how you can help, or see if they would like to take a quick break after the call. Four years ago, I noticed an agent crying outside the office, so I went up and asked her if she needed help or if she would like to talk about it. I found out that another agent made some rude remarks about her weight, and the amount she served herself during a mealtime meeting. I asked if I could talk to the other agent about it, but she refused and was happy that I was there to listen to her. The next time we had a mealtime, we took measures to ensure that history wouldn't repeat itself.
Make sure your team members know what's happening in your contact center, so there are no anxious surprises. I started a four-page contact center newsletter, which I used to train, inject humor, and inform the team about what was happening. Also, I interact with the team during downtimes to see how they're doing and how I can help, and to see where the discussion goes. By having these open-ended conversations, I can gauge a team member's emotional state.
Ensure that the necessary information is available to agents when they need it and in a way that they can understand and explain to the customer. When I was the new supervisor at a contact center, I remember how frustrated and insignificant I felt when I searched for information through my available resources, an upset customer on one end, and no one responding to my chat messages.
Brainstorm and invest in employee engagement activities. Before the virtual training day during the first week of November, I gathered information from our agents on what topics they would like to discuss. The training day covered information that they needed the most to help them succeed on calls.
I'm a believer that what gets rewarded gets repeated. I feel that we all need a little appreciation for what we do at work, and this appreciation needs to be specific.
As leaders, we help set the tone in our contact centers by how we react to situations, build trust, and value team member's feedback.
Creating and regulating a favorable atmosphere isn't easy; it takes time and practice, learning from others, investing in yourself, and asking for help. Please do your best, and when it doesn't go too well, learn from those instances and modify how you approach.