In modern customer-centric organizations, a contact center plays a critical role. Whether it’s single-channel, multi-channel, or omnichannel, a contact center enables the firm to take care of its customers, resolve their queries, and keep them happy and engaged for the long term. But it’s equally important to take care of the people who take care of customers. These are the dedicated contact center agents and customer support representatives who patiently listen to customers’ complaints, find solutions to their problems, and keep them connected and loyal to the organization.
Unfortunately when service delivery problems arise, a lot of organizations fail to analyze the deeper problem within their contact center environment – their agents’ performance levels. And there are many other factors that can affect agents’ performance, and consequently the firm’s broader customer service outcomes.
Here are 5 such factors to consider in order to create a positive work environment where agents flourish and give their best performance – to the contact center, organization, and most importantly, to customers.
Many organizations ignore the importance of comfortable workspaces in their contact centers. The place where most people spend at least one-third of their workdays must be geared towards optimum productivity and performance, but not at the cost of comfort or happiness. Uncomfortable chairs, poor air quality, inadequate amenities such as dirty washrooms can all affect the way agents approach their work and do their jobs.
To maximize agents’ performance, it’s important for contact center managers to do an audit of the workspace. Key questions to ask and answer include:
- Are the chairs and desks comfortable? Ergonomic chairs are proven to increase comfort and productivity in the workplace. Do you have them in your contact center?
- Is the lighting adequate? Is it harsh or headache-inducing?
- How is the air quality? Stale or fresh, circulating, or still? Too hot or too cold?
- Is the volume of noise too high? Does it adversely affect agents’ concentration and distraction levels?
In addition to these physical or external factors, intrinsic factors like company culture and policies can also affect their performance. Even something as simple as allowing employees to personalize their workspaces with photographs, plants, and knick-knacks can make a tremendous difference in their productivity, efficiency, and happiness.
Infrastructure and equipment
For a contact center and its workforce to deliver the maximum value to customers, modernization is absolutely critical. An antiquated contact center system that still relies on outdated legacy tools affects the organization’s service delivery and eventually results in unhappy or frustrated customers. Having to face wrathful customers day in, day out directly affects agents’ morale, and consequently their performance.
Updating the system with a modern infrastructure and new equipment is an investment, albeit one with a very high potential RoI. For example, a unified agent desktop from NovelVox gives agents access to caller information from multiple applications on a single screen. Since they no longer have to waste time switching screens to find the information they need, their customer interactions improve, and they can provide meaningful customer experiences while improving their own AHT and FCR. Thus, updated infrastructure and equipment enable agents to do their job effectively. They also enable the contact center to help customers faster and better, while accommodating their evolving expectations.
Managerial Communication, Support, and Mentoring
In contact centers, the time pressures associated with meeting workload demands and targets often lead to stress and exhaustion, which affects agents’ performance and negatively affects service quality. In such a scenario, the personal outreach efforts of supervisors and managers can be critical bolsters for both agents and the organization.
Proper and frequent feedback, unambiguous communication, support with task management, encouragement to maintain work-life balance, and ongoing career mentoring – supervisors can do all of this to help agents’ maintain high-performance levels. Supervisory support can be a source of trust in an employee’s drive to be the best at their job. This has a direct effect on their AHT and FCR, which positively affects customer service outcomes. Moreover, knowing that their supervisor cares about their well-being can reduce agents’ stress and create a sense of belonging which encourages them to stay with the organization.
Powerful yet user-friendly tools from NovelVox like call center wallboards and Cisco supervisor desktops enable supervisors to monitor their agents’ performance, support their productivity and efficiency goals, and motivate them to deliver consistently excellent results.
Training and Development
Training courses – both for ‘on-the-job’ and ‘soft’ skills – and opportunities for professional development empower agents to apply their acquired skills and knowledge to perform their work effectively. This naturally yields better results for the contact center. Moreover, by investing in their professional development, the organization indicates that it values them and wants them to grow. This can have a positive psychological effect on agents and boost their commitment to the organization.
Conversely, a lack of development opportunities affects performance, stunts growth, and results in boredom and even burnout. These issues affect the contact center’s primary goal – to serve customers and keep them on board with the company for the long term.
Monetary factors like salaries and performance bonuses play a vital role in attracting new employees. But they can also influence current employees to stay committed to the organization and its goals. In other words, they can help retain more employees and keep turnover levels down. Non-cash assets like stock options, a car, or housing paid by the company can have similar positive effects.
In many contact centers, employees are often younger individuals who are still at an early stage in their careers. So unlike older employees who are usually more concerned with job security, career status, and personal/professional growth, compensation is an important factor for determining agents’ performance. Inadequate compensation or compensation that’s below industry standards leads to poor performance and high turnover. That’s why the contact center must match their compensation structure to industry standards. Exceeding these standards would be even better. Otherwise, problems like low satisfaction, poor productivity, and high absenteeism will be common, and they will increase their retention, hiring, and training costs.
Agents work directly with customers and represent the ‘face’ of the organization. If they don’t perform well, it impacts customer perceptions and business results. That’s why it’s important to treat them well and do everything possible to keep their performance and satisfaction levels up. For more information on how NovelVox can help your contact center boost agent performance, productivity, and customer service outcomes, contact us.