The Secret to Happy Call Centre Staff
The Secret to Happy Call Centre Staff
When you manage a call centre, you not only have all the usual stress of managing a team and delivering business results, but you are working in one of the highest turnover industries there is- call centre staff are dropping like flies. You go through the (frankly arduous) recruiting process, train your call centre staff up, only to have them jump ship weeks, months (if you’re lucky) later. It’s an incredible drain on your time, budget and productivity (and patience!) to have to recruit constantly. This means that in order for your team to have a hope of achieving what’s expected of them, you need to have staff who are motivated, and who enjoy their jobs. Or, if we’re realistic, some call centre staff who love their jobs and the rest who are motivated by other things, like working arrangements that fit with their lifestyles.
Corporate environments are increasingly recognising that remote work is a powerful tool in recruiting, motivating and retaining high performing staff. Offering remote working arrangements not only opens up a pool of highly qualified, talented prospects for whom location or shift hours are the only barrier to them doing a great job, it’s a very clear signal to your staff that you trust them.
Like anything, if you want something to work, you need to commit to it, set it up properly and maintain it. Remote working is not an exception. Here are some points to think about if you’re considering offering remote work to your call centre staff.
- Get the technology
It seems like a no brainer, but you need a cloud-based system that allows your agents to make their calls from wherever they are (as long as there is an internet connection). Establishing a connection with their prospects is an essential part of any successful outbound call. Your call centre staff will more than likely feel most comfortable creating the right energy in their calls when they are comfortable and safe in their environment.
Calling remotely doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the opportunity to coach your call centre staff. With the right system, you can still live monitor agents, listen in on calls and even offer live training while they’re on the call.
- Try a little empathy
If you are to manage a productive team, some or all of whom work remotely, it’s a mistake to assume you can treat remote staff the way you do your on-site guys. This doesn’t mean you need to double your staff management, not at all. It just means there are certain unique challenges to working remotely that can be easily overcome- assuming you take the time to become aware of them. Sometimes the only way to really understand the challenges is to experience them yourself. Try working from home for a week yourself- a normal week, with deadlines, meetings and all the normal pressures. What challenges do you have? You’ll then be in a great place to work out the right solutions.
Practising a little empathy will help you not only to be a better manager, but if you speak to customers or prospects regularly, the ability to empathise goes a long way to getting what you need from them.
- One in, all in
Have you ever sat in on a meeting remotely, while everyone else is on site? It can be pretty tricky. Finding the right gap in the conversation to interject with your own thoughts, trying to hear the speaker, trying to keep up with what’s being presented. Not to mention phone delays, bad reception. All super awkward. When you have staff working remotely, there are many systems out there that facilitate online meetings. Consider mandating that if one member of your call centre staff needs to attend the meeting remotely, then you all attend remotely. That way the facilitator is catering to everyone’s needs, not just the people who happen to be in the room.
- Bed down your processes
Every work place is guilty of it, those quick, spontaneous meetings where you hash something out over a coffee, at someone’s desk or walking to the kitchen. Sometimes you just grab someone when you can to discuss what you need to, not worrying about organising a meeting. The problem with this is that whatever is discussed and/or decided this way, often isn’t communicated to everyone it is relevant to. There is often not a plan put in place to put the thoughts and decisions into action, so in many ways it’s a waste of time and thinking.
If you want to increase your productivity, particularly with a call centre made up of agents working remotely, then you need to make every minute work for you. A feeling of isolation is one of the key challenges for remote staff, so make sure you have an inclusionary approach to all your work. This means only ever having structured meetings, where decisions are made, documented and put into a work plan. All staff the information is relevant to are included, so no one feels left out. This is a great habit to get into even if you don’t have staff working remotely, to make sure every meeting moves you forward, closer to a target. After all, we spend a lot of time in meetings– let’s make sure they work for us.
- Make it part of your company’s DNA
If you believe whole heartedly in remote working, but move on, get promoted or take an extended break, the systems and processes need to be managed by whoever replaces you. Allowing remote work isn’t a small thing- it’s a shift in thinking and requires a real commitment from every level of the business. It speaks to your company’s values, about trusting your staff, so everyone needs to be onside, from HR to the CEO. Make sure everyone is sold on the idea from the outset as it requires investment, commitment and time.
Of course, when you look at the benefits, it’s pretty easy sell. The money saved on having less bodies onsite- less office space, reduced energy consumption, fewer meeting rooms required is a very compelling argument for even the most old-school ‘9 to 5’ executive. The impact on staff motivation and retention will be the icing on the cake for any business that values productivity.
Giving your call centre staff the option to work remotely is the secret to a happy, motivated team. It may not be important to everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. The beauty of remote working is that not only does it bring to you an untapped resource of recruits who would never normally be on your radar, it eases the stress on your staff members for whom travel is difficult. Less stress means happier people. Because an agent lives a distance away from your office, or is a parent who needs to do the school drop off and pick-ups, doesn’t make them any less able to be an amazing outbound call centre agent. The benefits are clear, the systems and technology are available to you. It just takes the belief and commitment to the shift, which so many businesses are now realising.