Boosting call centre performance through morale
Boosting call centre performance through morale
Looking to improve the performance and sales results of your outbound team? But, here’s the catch. You can’t spend more any more money, or hire anyone new. Without these levers to pull, you may feel like there’s not much more you can do. But surprisingly the motivation of your staff can play a key role in call centre performance and sales volumes. Finding out what motivates your team is not an easy thing to do, but with concentrated effort, you will see improvements over time that can bring significantly more profit.
A quick lesson: morale vs. motivation
First, let’s take a closer look at the difference between employee morale and employee motivation.
Morale refers to an agent’s thoughts and feelings about their job. When morale is high, you’ll find they approach their work willingly and enthusiastically. There is a desire to do the work well as soon as they log in and start dialing. Yet, when morale is low, the opposite tends to be true.
In contrast, your agents’ motivation is what’s behind their drive to get the job done. Highly motivated agents will be the highest performers in the call centre. But just because they perform well doesn’t mean their morale is high. Motivation in this case might stems from “negative incentives” such as the overwhelming desire to receive rewards, or the pressure from competition. Though these negative incentives mean a lot of work gets done, they can negatively affect the morale of your call centre team, and the company in general.
Now that we know how they’re different, how do they work together to help boost call centre performance?
When morale is high, your agents are naturally more motivated to work hard to produce positive results, and when it’s low, employees are less self-motivated – and your call centre performance suffers. As a result, it’s tempting as a manager to believe you need to micromanage or institute additional rules, which are likely to drive morale even further down.
So instead, if you focus on helping your agents to feel more positive about their work environment and the people they work with, they are likely to feel happier and more engaged with the challenges that you’ve set – and bingo – you are on the road to boosting your call centre performance.
Lead by example
You, as the manager, set the tone for your entire department. Be exactly what you want the members of your team to be. Show excitement about your job; be willing to help your agents when they need it. Be open and available, ask for suggestions and implement them when and where you can. Command respect, yet be respectful to your team. Your staff will model your behaviour, so it makes sense to act the way you’d expect them to. Having a bad day? That’s okay. It’s going to happen to everyone. Fake it until you make it.
We don’t mean asking the team to get artistic – we mean allowing them to get creative with solutions to the myriad of issues they face from call to call. As a manager, you can’t always predict what’s going to happen from one call to the next, and you can’t really impact the interactions and calls as they’re flowing through the contact centre. The sporadic nature of the job requires a team of problem solvers who can use their imaginations.
Rewards and praise
One of the best ways to motivate call centre staff to improve call centre performance is through the use of rewards and praise. A 2013 study found 88% of organisations have an employee recognition program in place and the majority believed it positively affected motivation and satisfaction, yet only 12% had educated their managers about the recognition programs. Where does your company stand on this right now? If you don’t know, go talk to your senior management. If there’s a reward or recognition program in place that you don’t know much about, get more information and learn about it. If there’s not, ask about starting one.
The types of motivational programs you could consider could be aimed at above-and-beyond performance, attendance, major family event programs, safety performance and suggestions/ideas.
Two-way communication and feedback systems
In order to improve your call centre performance, it’s important to create an environment that makes your staff feel comfortable talking to you. Keep them aware of what’s going on within the business, so they remain comfortable in their positions and don’t start suspecting things are different from what they are, or start rumours that could negatively affect morale. Since 66% of employees say their direct manager impacts their career, communication is key.
When the lines of the communication are open, your agents will be more likely to speak to you if they’re having trouble, or know someone who is. All too often when management styles are closed, employees don’t speak up for fear of putting their jobs in jeopardy.
Most of the time, employees burn out because they’re overworked and under appreciated. By giving them a flexible schedule and taking action to show them how valuable they are to your organisation, you’re doing a great deal to prevent it from happening in the first place. However, even the best intentions don’t always stop a case of employee burnout. It can also occur as a result of employee depression and boredom.
Signs of burnout include:
- Increased absenteeism
- Showing up late/leaving early
- Decline in productivity
- Visible frustration
- Health decline
- Lack of enthusiasm
There isn’t a quick fix for burnout, but you can take additional steps to help any affected agents when you see them. Encourage things that help relieve stress, such as listening to music between calls and on breaks, allowing casual dress, taking breaks outside to get fresh air.
Consider whether you can give your agents the option to telecommute – many call centre software systems like ours will make it possible for agents to work from wherever they wish, while still giving you adequate oversight of their performance.
Morale, and thus motivation, can be contagious. When you set the tone, others will catch on quickly. However, it’s important to remember different things motivate different people, and those motivations can change. There’s no magic formula to ensure high morale and motivation, but when your employee’s needs are met, they’re more likely to do what you ask of them.
Investing in boosting staff motivation and moral is smart business sense. If you’re not sure how to get started, work on opening those lines of communication and just talk to the team about what you can do to help them.
The team here at Noojee is committed to helping call centre managers boost their call centre performance. For more about how to make the most of your staff download our free ebook The Psychology of a High Performing Call Centre today.
Image via Flickr CC/Sandy Zieba