Thank God It's Monday at the Call Center

Syed Masood

All call center managers have the opportunity to create a "Thank God it's Monday" work environment. Thank God It's Monday, a book written by Roxanne Emmerich, captures what it takes to change corporate culture. The call center is arguably one of the most difficult cultures to alter. So how can we change the call center into this sort of environment?

It cannot be done in a day. However with the right set of tools you can get started to set yourself on the same Thank God It’s Monday path. Below I share some of our call center best practices with you.

What Does Your Call Center Environment Look Like?

When we talk about creating opportunities in the call center most executives think of this as another investment in a new type of call center incentive plan. The call center executives might think this is limited to growth opportunities within the organization.

But here I would like my readers to start thinking about all those opportunities which do not relate to money or a position/title but a chance to experience their job from a different perspective.

I am sure if you were to recall your own personal timeline you would remember days full of tedious responsibilities—but perhaps it didn’t feel like a job because of the culture or environment. This includes pre-requisite tasks which lead to other things. Perhaps you worked in the call center and you were planning to strike a conversation with a beautiful girl/boy in the cubicle a few yards away from yours.

While I realize this example is not something Emily Post might write, the reason I use it is I want to exemplify the importance of variation. Experiences like this make a job in a call center a little more exciting. While I am not encouraging inter-office call center romances, I am encouraging you to create an environment in your call center in which there is some variety. As the call center manger if you aren’t going to set the tone, no one will.

Little Things Improve the Day And Create a Feeling of Adventure

While I am not trying to encourage inter-office romance and subsequent call center law suits I am encouraging you to create opportunities for your call center talent. The opportunities should make them feel they are working in a friendly business environment. Some examples of this include a suggestion box in the call center. The suggestion box will include ideas to improve the call center—set a budget aside for this as well. I encourage you to let call center employees spend some of their workday on this.

I also encourage you to allow your call center representatives to browse common comic, social, news and tech-gadgets websites (monitored off-course).

We normally provide access to a remote desktop session where the call center representative can access social networking sites. If the call center representative’s phone rings they minimize the session and resume work on their CRM locally. This approach helps ensure the call center representative does not copy paste incorrect data onto other windows.

We recognize the hard working call center representatives by nominating them to new tasks such as managing call center breaks and handling call escalations. We also allow these call center superstars to perform random call monitoring or assist call center management with workforce planning. We encourage the call center representatives to participate in call center development programs. All of these activities assist the call center representative in learning new skills. Now all this happens at their first working day as well as on day five.

So this adds spice to their daily routine and our call center representatives look forward to the start of their work week.

How Good Is Your Call Center Environment?

Creating a warm and inviting call center environment keeps employees motivated. The center which I manage is especially designed to incorporate large octagon cubicles surrounded with marine life. We also provide space to keep pets and xbox/wii in the call center’s recreation room just besides the foosball table and massage chairs. Our call center also serves lunch or dinner in-house.

Because we do all these things call center employee retention is superb and the reason is very simple—we go the extra mile for the employees. This includes competitive salary structures with excellent family holiday vacation plans. Each year our department selects the top call center performers and sends them to Dubai, Paris and Milan.

The Characters That Create A Dynamic Team

Placement of the employee cubicles is also an essential part of the success recipe, each group should have one:

  • Joker—Someone funny who gets along with everyone
  • Ace—A product domain pro
  • Queen—Usually female creative & beautiful
  • King—Leader of the pack--male or female

Plus don't forget to brand them i.e. "Team Majestic" with something like a customized coffee mug. This adds fuel to the fire of healthy competition. Pre-shifts are always good way to start ones day and a platform to applaud yesterdays top performers and identify today's goal.

Once a month there is a cook out where selected call center employees come with their families and watch a new movie. This normally happens on Friday thus providing a long weekend to employees and their families (their work schedule is also tweaked to accommodate them).

Now all of this does not happens every day but cubicle by cubicle, group by group we are making culture improvements. It's gratifying to put so much work into the culture and see smiling faces all year around. Now we can say Thank God It's Monday!