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4 Ways To Build Professional Development In The Contact Center

A Guide To Increasing Employee Engagement And Productivity

Matt Wujciak

contact center agent

“More and more autonomy is taken out of the day to day of the employee. The number one complaint I hear in customer service is ‘your team reads from scripts.’ They’re not reading from a script, it’s just so dictated, [that] it sounds scripted. Call after call. Day after day. Week after week…”

Former contact center leader at Microsoft, Dee Nilles, recently told me this, referring to the mundane stigma of traditional call center practices. With over 20 years of experience at Microsoft, managing thousands of contact center employees and instilling different operation management systems to increase agent productivity, Dee Nilles knows what she’s talking about when she says there’s a problem with today’s contact center. 

CCW Digital research confirms that while 90 percent of executives understand the importance of workforce engagement, fewer than 50 percent understand how to improve it. Employee disengagement is one of the biggest challenges affecting the workplace, and contact centers are one of the biggest culprits.

Read More: Increasing ROI With A Better Chatbot Strategy (Sponsored By Salesforce)

As a result, a mere 53% of contact center leaders claim to retain a strong percentage of their agents, contributing to costly attrition.

Disengagement is a very real problem for front-line employees, especially in customer service departments. But learning different research nuggets and tactics can combat this reality and help anyone in the CX world learn how to improve engagement and productivity. 

Increasing productivity through ergonomic research

Several studies reported by found that the average salaried employee only accomplishes about 3 hours of work per day - due to discontinuous attention spans and reoccurring pain points. That number may be even lower for contact centers – an industry notorious for confusing automation stacks, minimal front-line coaching, and stress levels that seem to be the only high metric. 

That’s why enterprises like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and now T-Mobile (who non-coincidentally lead their respective markets in technology innovation) invest billions in their headquarters and corporate campuses, in line with the latest ergonomic research aimed at productivity. 

Exposure to daylight, variability of tasks and freedom to move around the office are just a few factors shown to boost output. Our research shows that employees exposed to views of nature take fewer sick days and report feeling healthier, contributing to a better culture of engagement, especially in departments traditionally known for competitive quotas and high attrition. 

New Event Dates! CCW Las Vegas will be taking place August 24-28 at Caesars Forum!

“With T-Mobile, from the very beginning, since I started years ago, we’ve had a value that your front-line is first because your customer is first. That’s the philosophy that we live by. If you put your front line first, it’s because they’re the ones taking care of your customers. They’re interacting with them every day. And not only that, then they’ll have invested interest to tell you what would make a better experience for your customers.” –Susanna Hadley, Senior Manager, Program Management Ops at T-Mobile.

(T-Mobile recently made Fortune’s best places to work for the third year in a row). 

Health and wellness through incentive programs

“People want to have clear direction, security, health and wellness, motivation, and opportunity. If you accept that call centers cannot support employees in this way, then the result will be low engagement and high attrition. But if you believe you can provide this support and commit to it then improved employee loyalty is definitely attainable.” - Nat Salvion, Chief Commercial Officer at Tango Card.

An emerging emphasis in the contact center that’s recently been proven to improve employee engagement, well-being, and productivity is personalized rewards programs for employees.

New Podcast Series: Former Microsoft Leader On The Future Of The Contact Center

For example, employee wellness programs are becoming more innovative in incorporating an agent’s KPIs, but in an untraditional and fun way, to give agents an incentive based on their performance metrics. More specifically, digital gift cards (i.e. a complementary Lulu Lemmon gift card given to an agent by a manager).

8 out of 10 employees prefer a gift card to other types of gifts or rewards.

According to Tango, incentives are associated with higher participation rates in wellness by about 20 percentage points.

Like most digital gift cards, employers pick the brand based on the employees’ interests, except with an emphasis on trending health, fitness, well-being, or non-profit brands of the employees’ choice (i.e. Lulu Lemmon, Whole Foods, Goodwill, etc.).

Engagement through gamification

Productivity and professional development in the contact center are heavily dependent upon agent engagement.

78% of agents say they are happiest when they’re engaged at work.

Companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and Microsoft have recently been utilizing gamification technology to increase employee engagement and professional development in the contact center. They’re now able to micro-coach employees and engage with agents on habit-driven and emotionally stimulating platforms through time-saving automation.

As Dee recently told me, “You have to create a culture of learning.. In a gamification platform, it becomes more of a progression of learning versus another training session.”

To give an example of a successful gamification technology being used in the contact center, BC Services partnered with Noble Gamification to “gamify” its contact center operations. 

Motivating agents to move from one phone interaction to the next more efficiently was the first priority for BC Services. After only one week of using their gamification platform, calls handled per agent/per hour grew by nearly 6%, with an average increase of 3% since the company began using Noble’s platform. 

Here's What To Consider When Building An Employee Experience Program

Contact centers looking to enhance employee professional development (in an industry predicated on churn costs, communication silos, and disengagement) need to be innovatively experimenting with the latest agent-centric technologies and incentive plans to engage employees.

Versatility through education

Since technological innovation is inevitable, growing to be more versatile is essential for the quality of the contact center or any employee’s professional development (from entry-level customer service agents to C-level executives). 

Don’t tolerate change, thrive on it by knowing every trend in your space. By being on this site, you’ve already started gaining a competitive advantage. 

A 3 Step Approach To Higher Employee Engagement Within The Contact Center

Read up on future trends in reports or daily articles like these. Listen to weekly webinars and podcasts to gather insights from industry leaders, influencers, and analysts. Most importantly, take your team to an occasional industry event/conference that covers the latest Customer Experience trends and technologies, loaded with breakout sessions and interactive activities. 

A leader’s excellence is dependent upon his or her ability to positively impact those around him. Equipping your team with the latest knowledge in the industry can directly transfer to newly acquired skills and professional development.