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11 ways to improve your customer service agent engagement in the contact centre

It’s no secret that many contact centres struggle with agent productivity and engagement. This can be due to a lack of recognition, poor team culture, low employee job satisfaction, working from home challenges and failures of basic technologies.

Why is it important to invest in agent engagement?

Contact centre managers rely on their agents to provide new and existing customers with exceptional customer service. Yet, when agents are unhappy, businesses can risk losing talent, clients, their reputation, and revenue.

Investing in agent engagement should be at the top of your business priorities, not only to retain your best employees, but also to increase contact centre productivity and efficiency.

How can you improve agent engagement?

Give them the tools they need to succeed

For agents to perform their jobs well, they must have the right platform to work from. As well as being easy to deploy and use, a cloud contact centre can include many features that will help you support your agents during their working day. For example, the right solution will provide agent coaching tools, including agent scripts and a library of resources, so that your new remote hires have all the support they need to achieve a first contact resolution. With a modern solution, supervisors should also be able to jump into agent calls and help as needed.

Moreover, when your agents don’t have the necessary information at hand, they can’t do their job properly, taking more time than necessary to solve customers’ issues and increasing their frustration. A cloud contact centre with CRM integration, such as Horizon, can help your agents feel more engaged and confident by providing them with historical customer data and information. With all the necessary information at hand, agents can resolve customers’ problems faster, increasing productivity and efficiency.

Finally, with remote working growing in popularity, and suddenly becoming a necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to offer agents a flexible working environment. Allowing your agents to work from anywhere doesn’t have to be complicated, provided you give them access to the right solution. A cloud-based contact centre can give agents the opportunity to work remotely, without any additional hardware required — they will simply need an internet connection and a browser.

Empower your agents and give them agency

agency noun
The ability to take action or to choose what action to take

Agent empowerment is a divisive topic amongst many contact centre managers. On one hand, encouraging agents to steer away from their script can lead to errors and inconsistencies in compliance and customer care. On the other hand, giving agents the flexibility and freedom to go off-script when necessary can solve customer complaints or queries more efficiently.

For agent empowerment to be successful, managers must find a delicate balance between process and personalisation. It’s hard to achieve, but when implemented correctly, it can benefit your agents, as well as your customers. Encouraging agents to make smaller-scale decisions throughout your customer service frontlines can boost morale and job satisfaction, as it shows that you trust them and value their skills and opinions.

Trusting your agents to make the right choices and not treating them as robots can also bring forward confident sharing of ideas and suggestions for improvements.

Use gamification to motivate agents

As many contact centres desperately try to ensure that their agents work productively, meet their KPIs and stay within the company, trying a different approach to improve agent engagement could prove successful.

Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanisms to solve problems and engage users. When done right, gamification can be an effective and fun way to drive agent motivation and performance. The TalentLMS gamification at work survey found that gamification makes 87% of employees more productive, 84% more engaged and 82% happier in the workplace.

If you decide to implement gamification within your contact centre environment, it’s vital that you set clear goals before you begin. Use gamification as a tool for measuring individual performance and encourage a team spirit through healthy competition. Make training sessions more interactive and engaging, with meaningful rewards and the opportunity to discuss best team practices.

Optimise their workspace

Given the intense nature of a contact centre, an optimised workspace for comfort and productivity is essential. Ensuring your agents are comfortable in their remote setting is crucial – without a good remote set up, agent’s risk having a less-structured environment, which can result in diminished productivity and morale. Providing your agents with the appropriate office furniture, such as desks, chairs, monitors etc., will give your agents the basic requirements to do their job.

Share customer feedback with your agents

If agents know they’re being talked about, they’ll want to know what’s being said. Sharing feedback allows agents to assess how well they’re performing and amend any potential gaps in the service they provide. Agents can create personal development goals that can further motivate them to provide the best experience possible. Customers will also appreciate having their opinions heard!

Whether positive or negative, it’s always good to share that feedback. Hearing from customers themselves about how good a job they’re doing boosts satisfaction levels and combats agent attrition rates. Negative feedback can be a motivational tool as well, as it feeds into the development towards becoming a better agent. At the end of the day, it all builds towards the goal of providing a better customer experience.

Use analytics wisely

Data is powerful, and contact centres must be ready to harness it. Real-time analytics are vital in the decision-making processes for businesses, as strategic decisions can be deployed faster and with confidence if data is up-to-date. Having a wider scope of data, relating to both customer and agent performance, can help visualise what needs to be done to address any potential shortcomings in the customer journey.

Thanks to machine learning, self-service tools can become more intelligent and provide accurate responses to incoming customer queries. This leads to faster resolution times, which not only leaves a customer satisfied, but gives agents a chance to work on more laborious tasks. Increased engagement in higher value inquiries can help build a higher customer retention rate and secure more long-term revenue for the business.

Utilise a skills-based routing method

For customers, the one thing they want more than anything else is a fast resolution to their inquiries. If too much time is taking direct calls to the most-qualified agent, these customers become frustrated over how long they need to wait. Being transferred from person to person will only just make things worse, as it establishes a reputation of having an inefficient customer support service.

Thanks to skills-based routing, calls are directed towards the most suitable agent rather than the next one who’s available. They will have the tools and information needed to assist customers, which will improve first call resolution rates and cut down any unnecessary amount of time a customer is left waiting. The best part of skills-based routing is, of course, more satisfied customers.

Provide continuous feedback

If agents aren’t being told they’re not doing a good job, they’ll just naturally assume that they’re doing a bad job. Agent attrition is an ongoing struggle for all contact centres, ranging from 20% to 200%, and it’s down to contact centre leaders to combat it. Without regular feedback, bad habits can begin to set in and continue to fester if left unchecked for too long.

Encourage a culture that celebrates feedback; create an environment that leaves agents feeling comfortable about sharing their opinions. Proactive engagement ensures agents have a deeper understanding of how they can improve in their daily operations, which can keep their personal targets aligned with the wider business goals. Through more effective communication practices, agent morale remains high by having transparency between themselves and their managers.

Celebrate performance

The power of sharing feedback has already been mentioned, but praising agents directly can really drive morale to new heights. Demonstrating their work’s avlue and making it clear how much of a positive contribution they’ve made can leave an agent feeling satisfied with their performance. That praise will make agents want more, empowering them to continue working hard.

If this praise is made public through team emails or calls, then other agents will be motivated to have their triumphs noted. Indeed, praising the performance of an entire team is also an excellent way to prompt agents to maintain that high standard of work. By having their collaborative efforts celebrated, it will help form strong bonds between each agent that will only improve team performance in the long-term.

Facilitate flexible scheduling

60% of employees are reported to now enjoy flexibility in their current working schedule, which just shows how remote working remains a popular choice among the workforce. Finding that precious balance between work and play is now a major driving force behind where someone chooses to work. Having the ability to switch between a traditional office environment and the comfort of home gives agents an uplift in their mental well-being.

Flexible scheduling can be enticing when recruiting new agents, especially in a job market that remains as competitive as ever. That little bit of extra freedom can give a boost to productivity, as agents can find the most comfortable place for them to work. If they know that they can still put in an amazing performance at work while still having the ability to socialise, then they’ll be happy with their current working arrangement and remain in their current role.

Invest in training and development

With customer demands always changing and the pressure to provide epic CX always lingering in the background, agents must keep pace with this alternating business landscape. Having access to the most robust, up-to-date foundation of knowledge about what products and services are available guarantees that customers find the answer they’re looking for quickly. Great service quality translates to better brand reputation and positive word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Training must be a constant process if agents are to continue developing towards providing an amazing customer experience. Opportunities to grow give businesses the means to retain key agents and reduce churn. With highly-skilled, motivated agents on the frontline of customer support, customers enjoy a more consistent service that will encourage them to keep coming back for more. Retaining loyal customers improves the bottom line and reaffirms just how fantastic a job agents are doing.

“Happy agents equal happy customers”

Agent engagement is a real problem for customer service teams. When your agents are disengaged and dissatisfied, your business risks losing its best talents and customers. By supporting your agents with the right solution, a comfortable working environment and alternative engagement processes, you can ensure your contact centre performs more efficiently and productively — not only increasing agent engagement but also customer satisfaction.

Learn more about the challenges and opportunities of the future of customer experience and how a cloud contact centre can help you succeed by downloading our whitepaper: Winning the customer experience battle: embracing a cloud contact centre.

Currently utilising a standard business phone system and ready to make the move to a cloud contact centre? Contact Gamma today and we’ll help you choose the right solution for your business.