Are your agents happy? Great leaders recognize that every employee is a representative of the company and that how the employees are treated is how they treat the customers. What’s more, Economists’ latest study from the University of Warwick proves that happy employees are more productive by 12% and that unhappy employees are 10% less productive in the workplace. This means your best shot at improving productivity in your call center and making your customers happy lies squarely in your ability to keep your agents happy.
Whether answering the phone or sending an email to a customer, you want the people on the frontline to feel their best. If your agents feel their best, your customers are going to get the best treatment too. Zappos provides an excellent example for this case; not only do they offer great incentive plans for their agents, but they also instill trust in them. It’s no wonder they have an NPS of 80, and Amazon bought them for just under a billion US dollars.
Your first thought is probably to offer them a raise, but as it turns out, money can’t buy happiness. Bonuses and perks aren’t enough to keep your agents happy. Instead, you need to show them that the company appreciates, respects, and values them on a personal level. According to a study on employee motivation funded by Make Their Day, 83% of the respondents revealed that recognition for contribution was more fulfilling and motivating than any other gifts or rewards.
Don’t bind your agents with rules. Give them a flexible workplace so that they don’t feel threatened or forced to work. For example, Zappos uses a system of self-management called holocracy. This system gives agents more power over their work and the freedom and creativity to complete their tasks. Plus, when you consider Deloitte’s 2014 report, which confirms 78% of millennials want to work for an organization that encourages creativity, your best shot at retaining young and motivated talent is to empower your agents. However, don’t forget that your agents can only work autonomously if they have accurate feedback.
A survey carried out by TINYpulse revealed that management transparency and employee happiness correlate to 0.94, a rather clear indication that keeping your agents informed about the company’s state is a great way to keep them happy. Best of all, the cost of improving transparency at your center is almost zero. At Zappos, transparency is a value that is well inculcated into the organization’s fabric. For example, not only do they have a whole department called Zappos Insights, but they are also testing a new program in their contact center that will allow agents to view customer feedback specific to their performance. This will help the agents leverage the feedback to improve their KPIs. In fact, after a week of testing the system, Zappos managers reported an improvement in agents’ performance.
Inspire your agents to be a part of something bigger than they are. For example, it has become clear that Zappos’ higher purpose is to deliver happiness. What’s your business’s purpose?
When you provide your agents with the necessary tools and training they require, it gets easier to scale your business and provide the highest service level. Suppose you look at Zappos’ self-management system. In that case, you will notice that the agents all have the same level of responsibility for accomplishing the goals in their job descriptions and that managers still exist in the setting. Still, they are only there to coach the agents while agents use provided tools like the feedback portal and the Zappos Insights department to support themselves and provide delightful experiences.
High performing agents need recognition from time to time, preferably in front of the entire staff. Not only will this motivate them, but it will also inspire the ones with subpar performance to emulate them. For example, Zappos’ reward program awards high performing contact agents with ‘zollars’ for teamwork and meeting key objective. The ‘zollars’ can then be used to buy Zappos’ Merchandise.
Smart managers know that the key to their business’ success lies in employees who love their jobs. You may not have the financial muscle to pull off Zappos’ tactics, but you can start paying closer attention to the challenges your agents are facing and try to solve them