The role of a contact centre agent is a challenging one, to be certain. Agents are required to address customer issues, exhibit patience and meet customers’ expectations even when they may be unreasonable.
However, in many organisations, the contact centre is disconnected from the rest of the business. This lack of alignment is not just at a macro organisational level but also at the individual level where agents ask how they fit into the greater business? Add to this that many agents work from home, and the distance between them and the company seems even greater.
Given that agents are on the front lines of customer engagement and are often the first human interaction a customer has with a brand, the agent must be aligned with the organisation to perform at their highest levels.
Here are a few things you can think about to ensure your call centre is more aligned with the business and the potential benefits you can expect from it.
Businesses with engaged employees perform better
Multiple studies have shown the benefits to a business when their employees are engaged; this accounts for the call centre as well. Leaders should make every effort to integrate agents into the organisation, given their pivotal role in customer interaction.
This integration into the organisation can be accomplished in multiple ways. You can provide full visibility into the corporation’s performance and make sure they understand the role the contact centre had in that performance – think NPS scores and customer satisfaction surveys. You can also provide a career path for your agents based upon individual performance. Knowing they have the opportunity to advance to other parts of the business is a great incentive.
There are many ways that you can ensure your call centre agents, even those that work from home, are engaged and aligned with the organisation, and you can see some of these ideas by looking back at past blog posts. However, if you want to know why, lower absenteeism, better sales and higher morale are just a few that you should consider.
Share the wealth
More than 20-years ago, I worked for a software company as a marketing associate. I remember receiving my first paycheck and seeing an amount listed next to commissions. I was confused as I was not in sales but marketing. I went to my boss thinking there was some mistake, and she told me, “everyone contributes to the welfare of the customers and the growth of the company, so everyone benefits.” A novel concept and one that greatly impacted many of us employees in terms of loyalty.
When you think of the isolation that can often occur in the call centre, think about what would change if you shared the rewards of growth with your agents? This does not always have to be monetary rewards, as money is not always a motivator for employees. You can get creative by incentivising them with extra time off, investment in additional training, providing flexible working hours or the ability to work in a hybrid environment.
If you want to align your call centre employees to the organisation, let them know they are an integral part of the team. Also, make sure to reward them when they play a role in meeting the business goals and objectives.
Open the door to opportunity
Many organisations focus on diversity in the workplace. While much of this diversity work is on gender and race, many fail to think about the diversity of thought. Innovation will not come to organisations that always look to the same people in the same roles for answers.
A business can further align its call centre agents with its teams by bringing their thoughts to other parts of the business. I know many companies that have various committees and assign special projects to address certain challenges. If this is your company, ensure you bring some agents into those opportunities. Agents have a unique perspective on the business and often the clearest view of your customers. Having them share their insights can be invaluable and also make them feel a part of the company and not just contained to the call centre.
Understanding the brand promise and mission
One thing that sets great companies apart from others is their commitment to their mission and brand promise. One thing they do to enable this consistency is ensuring their employees know the mission and promise and are aware of their role in delivering.
One of the most powerful things you can do for your call centre agents is ensure they know the mission and brand promise of the organisation and are clear on the role they play in it. I believe this is one of the most important things an organisation can do to drive interdepartmental alignment.
The role of a contact centre agent can often be a lonely and hard existence. This is only heightened when agents are working remotely from their homes. You can take deliberate steps to align them with the organisation and get them engaged in the business of your business. Doing so will reap great rewards.
Originally published Jun 24, 2021, updated Jul 22, 2021