Recently, I had the privilege of joining a couple of round table conversations in the UK around the state of the contact center today. While the conversations ranged from talking about the cloud and how it’s enabled some companies to allow some teams to work from home, strategies for maintaining business continuity through the pandemic, and overall best practices for achieving key contact center KPIs, there was one theme that ran pervasively through every discussion. Employees are feeling disconnected from their colleagues, they’re run down, and finding it difficult to motivate themselves and their teams.
When COVID first hit
Most Contact Centers shifted to a complete work from home model by the first half of April. The first few months were novel — employees felt as if they gained a bit of freedom by eliminating their commute time, being able to multi-task things at home while getting their job done, and taking care of their families during this pivotal time of change. What everyone shared was that for several months, the sheer magnitude of change that people were facing kept everyone motivated and this showed up for in business metrics in a number of ways:
- Sick days had decreased
- Energy was up
- The sense of team was singularly strong
Fast forward six months
Today, most contact center employees continue to work from home. And while most agents have become comfortable, and might actually prefer this setup, it’s getting old. It’s no longer exciting, and people are getting tired. Coupled with the onset of winter and the cold and gloomy weather, contact center managers have a whole new set of worries.
- How do you keep up morale?
- How do you keep teams motivated through all the uncertainty?
Suggestions to help keep teams engaged:
- Skip-level calls to the team – have the head of the contact center give a quick check-in call to their direct report’s employees.
- Build out messaging team groups so agents can support each other with information pertaining to their jobs, or a group just for fun and sharing, where communications are not specific to any company issues.
- Thank your team for their efforts with physical letters, because everyone loves to receive something in the mail that isn’t a bill.
- Move away from traditional KPI measurements – make sure agents are working and talking to customers – but sparing them nagging over average handle time and other metrics that just don’t seem so important at the moment.
- Hold video meetings to make sure the team is in sync and everyone has an opportunity to have their voices be both heard and seen.
- Enable flexible scheduling so agents maintain control over their own availability and when they are expected to be taking customer calls.
- Allow more internal communications within the teams to benchmark performance and drive healthy competition within the team.
Stay tuned for another blog on gamification, and how it helps to incentivize agent performance in a fun and interesting way.