Improving employee engagement in contact centres

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In an era where customer experience is the primary source of sustainable differentiation for brands, having engaged frontline employees is key to delivering the best for customers. 

Today, delivering a great customer experience goes well beyond just thinking about customers themselves. There is a complex crossover with product experiences, the employee experiences (EX) and consumer perceptions of the wider brand.

Yet while a growing number of organisations are starting to understand these complex dynamics, there’s one area where customer service too often falls behind… the contact centre.

While brands invest heavily in the customer experience, too many forget the close-knit crossover between CX and EX. If employees are demotivated and their experience at work is poor, there’s a very good chance that their interactions with customers will suffer. The result is a weak link in the overall experience. 

With this in mind, here are three ways that contact centres can manage and improve their employee experiences to benefit their brand:

1. Autonomous motivation: Remember that gamification isn’t everything.

Using gamification to improve motivation has become something of a trend in call centres — but in reality, its effects can wear off pretty quickly. This comes down to the distinction between two very different motivational styles: Autonomous Motivation and Controlled Motivation.

Controlled Motivation is influenced through external factors such as rewards — of which gamification is an increasingly popular example. By contrast, Autonomous Motivation is what we might think of as true engagement; this involves internalising goals and integrating company values into work.

Numerous research studies have shown that, while Controlled Motivation can lead to better performance in menial jobs, this advantage can wear off in as little as a week. Research also shows that overall, Autonomous Motivation — even with dull jobs — can lead to greater job satisfaction, well-being and performance. 

Contact centres should be careful about getting too bogged down in gamified reward schemes. Providing employees with a positive work environment and a fulfilling culture goes a lot further than standalone rewards.
 

2. Give workers the freedom to experiment

As areas of business go, contact centres have rarely been known for their flexibility and freedom. All too often, agents are expected to follow a closely devised customer-flow process and not deviate too far from the script.

By giving frontline workers in the contact centre more freedom, brands can dramatically improve both motivation and the number of positive interactions with customers. The Qualtrics’ Employee Pulse survey found that, of workers who are given significant freedom to experiment and try out new approaches, 44% would recommend where they worked to others. Similarly, 46% nearly or always look forward to work in the mornings. In contrast, of those whose jobs provided little or no freedom to experiment, 44% would not recommend their companies and 43% virtually never look forward to work.

The question is, will those 43% who never look forward to work are delivering the best customer interactions? It seems unlikely. While it can be hard for contact centre managers to let go of their carefully crafted CX workflows, providing employees with the freedom to communicate and solve customer problems in their own way can go far in creating a positive experience.

3. Embrace Experience Data

Data has never been more important within the contact centre. Constant measurement is vital in ensuring that customers are receiving the right experiences and in being able to find, and tweak, those experiences that aren’t being delivered as planned. 

Traditionally, contact centres have placed a heavy emphasis on data related to efficiency gains, using key metrics like average handling time (AHT) and resolution rates. But this approach of ‘score chasing’ is inherently bad for customers. As Goodhart’s Law states, ‘when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure’.

This is where Experience Data is essential to contact centre strategy. By incentivising employees based on customer experience outcomes such as CSAT or NPS, businesses can move their contact centres from being a necessary overhead that chases operational metrics to be a key pillar in delivering on the customer experience. Done right, it will not only improves the relationships that businesses have with their customers, but start to turn those customers into promoters.

It’s not just customer experiences that can benefit from a renewed focus on Experience Data. Employee experiences can also be dramatically improved by regular data capture and analysis. Frequent pulse surveys for contact centre employees can provide invaluable insight into motivation levels and workplace goals, as well as offering an opportunity for new ideas and processes to come to the fore.

By thinking about their employees’ needs and motivations, and by putting experience management at the heart of their contact centre strategy, businesses can build an experience that works for everyone. This experience-driven approach will ultimately go on to benefit not only customers, but contact centre employees and the organisation as a whole.

About Leonie Brown

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