A 3 Step Approach to Higher Employee Engagement Within The Contact Center
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace,” says Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup and founder of ConantLeadership.
Whether it’s Campbell’s Soup, the Brooklyn Nets, or your first grader’s tee-ball league, quality team “wins” involve engaged teammates. Why? Teammates who are actively engaged are motivated to deliver their best work, outperforming competition in nearly every facet of the game, whatever that game is.
Jaspar Weir, Co-Founder and President of TaskUs shared some in-house employee performance metrics with us, as seen in a recent CCW Digital special report: “Promoters of TaskUs [on the employee net promoter score] have 11% higher attendance, 14% higher quality, 18% more productive, and 27% higher retention score.”
Engaged employees are better workers, generating more revenue for the company and creating a better office culture while doing it. The question is, how do we go about improving employee engagement?
“Hire the smile, train the smile”
Hire the smile, train the smile. Yes, you read that correctly. Because training process is easier than training personality, many contact center leaders embrace the phrase “hire the smile, train the skill,” which is only partially correct.
As CCW Digital Principal Analyst Brian Cantor says, “it ignores the fact that organizations should also be training the smile. Coaching and training should go beyond the hard facts associated with interactions. They should focus on the connection.”
Hiring certain personality types and then training those personalities further is the most effective way to enhance employee engagement and improve office productivity.
As seen in a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, a recent meta-analysis synthesized data from 114 independent surveys of employees, comprising almost 45,000 participants from a wide range of countries, to which they were able to identify the right “smiles” to hire/train.
“Almost 50% of the variability in engagement could be predicted by people’s personality. In particular four traits: positive affect, proactivity, conscientiousness, and extroversion. In combination, these traits represent some of the core ingredients of emotional intelligence and resilience. Put another way, those who are positive, optimistic, hard-working, and outgoing tend to show more engagement at work. They are more likely to show up with energy and enthusiasm for what they do,” and they are more likely to be receptive to coaching, ultimately outperforming those who are reactive as opposed to proactive. Hiring certain personality types that are positive and coachable are crucial when it comes to engaged client-facing employees. But it’s only 50% of the battle.
Provide a 360-degree view with unified touchpoints
Given the rise of self-service platforms, AI, and automation, client-facing employees at all levels deal with increasingly complex requests, requiring them to have in depth knowledge of customers in the spur of a moment, or a real-time 360-degree view.
For example, with a customer service agent or sales rep dealing with an inquiry, the 360-degree view might include a customer’s website activity, chat history or most recent purchases. Training employees and giving them the necessary tools and skills, such as a unified agent desktop, for example, means agents are equipped with a comprehensive view of the customer – including demographic data, transaction and interaction history – without needing to log into multiple systems or navigate communication silos.
In the absence of a unified desktop, agents typically log in to up to 50 different applications to process a single customer request, which drives up handle time and data entry errors while eroding first call resolution.
Without a unified desktop or CRM centered around accessing a 360-degree view of a given customer at any time, contact centers are ill-equipped to offer an omnichannel customer experience, which requires employees to be able to toggle between numerous customer interactions simultaneously such as chat, phone, social media, SMS, and more.
When employees are dealing with an abundance of clustered/un-unified tools, their time, productivity, and overall engagement is negatively affected. When contact centers empower employees to leverage a 360-degree view across the most efficient communication touchpoints possible, engagement skyrockets.
Micro-coaching over traditional feedback
In a Forbes article earlier this year, CCW Advisory Board member Shep Hyken reflected on a noteworthy customer contact conversation. “I once talked to the manager of a customer support center. I asked him, ‘What is your most important job?’ He said, ‘To manage the contact center.’ I had hoped for a better answer, and after a bit of prompting, he delivered. He said, ‘I support my people to do their best when taking care of our customers.’"
Exactly. Managers don’t just manage. They coach. Effective managers coach through one-on-one conversations with employees in the moment, giving employees real-time feedback.
Studies show that the time invested into reporting or focusing on employee shortcomings in traditional annual employee reviews doesn’t serve employees or boost their performance.
As a result, it’s hurting the company. However, shorter and more frequent meetings with managers to re-cap a recorded call, or the week as a whole, is a great way to give employees clarity, advice closer to real-time interactions, and motivation.
“Empowering your front line,” as Deloitte describes in its case study Customer- centricity Embedding it into your organisation’s DNA, creates an environment where individuals are motivated to perform at their highest level and “feel they have a degree of creativity and empowerment within a structured framework, creating ‘magic moments’ of customer service” and every department of a business for that matter.
Aligning company and employee interests and values, and targeting emotional metrics like motivation or agent satisfaction through hiring and teaching personality traits, training the 360-degree view of customers, and real-time micro-coaching might just be the overlooked variables your company needs to generate employee engagement, and ultimately, customer satisfaction.