Is this the crucial killer of contact centre morale?

Stressed contact centre
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When agents are hired, their morale is high and they are engaged. So why do they become dis-engaged?

Your company culture is on the wall, written in your mission statement, part of the company vision, it’s in your core values and it’s communicated. But is this what destroys contact centre morale?

It is a problem if your leaders do not live out these perceived commitments through their behaviours.

Customers inside and outside – same

Just like your customers hate to have an expectation not met, so do your contact centre agents. When the leader that interacts with them the most (their supervisor) does not reflect what they expect, trust erodes rapidly. It’s one of the contributing factors as to why only 33% of employees say they feel their supervisors are effective.

While it’s the c-suite executives or owners that have the most influence on a company’s direction, it’s the frontline supervisor that has the most impact on what happens each day (See citation from the Centre for Workplace Leadership).

Let’s get real, how many of your contact centre agents actually interact with c-level executives? News Flash – your contact centre’s culture lives and dies with your supervisors.

“Agents don’t leave contact centres or companies, they leave supervisors.”

The truth on morale

Do you believe this to be true? All of the research and decades of contact centre performance prove this to be true. While co-workers may help to provide refuge and connection, supervisors either build agents up, ignore, or tear agents down.

When agents are hired, their morale is high and they are engaged. So how do they become dis-engaged?

Personally, I experienced both.

The best supervisor I ever had was able to connect with me. And was a good role model. He also helped to explain things to me when I questioned behaviours that I witnessed that did not align with what I expected. And he did not undermine the creditability of the organisation by bad-talking others when his expectations were not met.

My worst supervisor I had was a terrible role model. He often was the first one to bad-mouth his leader and the executive team. Myself and co-workers didn’t trust him and viewed him as disloyal not only to the company but to us as well. It resulted in all of us behaving badly because we found it to be normal.

I need a hero

Being a contact centre agent is a heroic job. It’s a very difficult job and they have high expectations placed on them. And all heroes must have people they're looking up to as role models and mentors.

Supervisors can be the heroes for your frontline heroes. They are the ones that can turn the expectations that build and sustain high morale into reality. But because of not having a clear Supervisor Success Path is it really any wonder that morale and turnover are such a problem in the contact centre industry?

What earns people the opportunity to become supervisors, won’t help them lead others. The transition of going from great contact center agent to great supervisor is not a quick shift. The skills that are needed are a completely different set of skills that require a pathway and blending learning opportunities to gain quickly.

Supervisors fail (greater than 50%) because what got them there (own performance) isn’t going to help them now (leading others).

What should you measure?

Building and sustaining a thriving culture is all about expectations and behaviours that often times are not easily measurable – in a direct sense. But they are felt and realised in all of the KPIs you measure every minute, hour, day, month, week and year.

Every single KPI you measure is affected by culture and your supervisors are the steward of it.

Each person matters in your organisation, but supervisors have a significantly larger impact than others. So, if you’re looking to build, sustain or change your contact centre’s culture the right way, start by developing a high-performing supervisor team.

Their skills define how your new hire contact centre agents have their morale destroyed – or not.

Do you have a different opinion? Leave a comment below.

About Jim Rembach

Jim Rembach - Call Center Coach

Jim Rembach is a twenty-five year contact center veteran, Host of the Fast Leader Show, and President of Call Center CoachJim is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, Certified Contact Center Auditor, Better Place to Work Expert, and is a CX Expert panel member for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). He is the author of nine books, introducing leading insights into contact center quality, analytics, surveys, employee engagement, customer experience, Voice of the Customer, Big Data, and Customer-centric Leadership Development. Jim helps frontline contact center supervisors improve their skills in the six core competencies found in high-performaing supervisors.

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