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Five Ideas for Motivating and Engaging Your Call Center Representatives

Art Hall

Struggling with ideas on how to engage and motivate your call center representatives? There is one thing that I know from experience—both as a call center representative and an executive call center leader—your call center representatives want to feel valued (as much as they may work our nerves). They are your greatest asset in the call center.

I strongly encourage you to try the following results-proven engagement tactics within your call center.

1. A Simple Thank You.
Showing sincere appreciation and gratitude to your call center representatives is powerful. Rightly or wrongly, there are a fair number of call center representatives who perceive they are under-appreciated by the call center management team. Nothing boosts morale like saying "thank you." In the past, I wrote a simple thank you note on all of the call center representatives payroll stubs and hand delivered them to each one. This simple act didn’t cost the organization that I was working for anything financially other than time spent to sincerely think about and write a note of thanks for each call center representative that worked for me.

2. Potlucks. Now, you tell me–who doesn’t like food? Potlucks are fun and very inexpensive to pull off in a call center. I am sure many of you reading this know how excited call center representatives get when they want to bring in and show off their best dish. While managing time off the phone and service level is always an issue, the energy that exudes from call center representatives getting time off the phone and sampling a smorgasbord of food brought by their peers is awesome.

3. Authorized Time Off. Call center representatives love time off but managing this can be an absolute nightmare, especially with HR and payroll. In a previous experience, my call center management team raffled off blocks of time, i.e. two, four and six hour blocks of time for any call center agent that cross-sold X number of products/services or exceeded an average handle time goal of Y or achieved a Z percentage in their quality monitoring/C-Sat score. Did all call center representatives get time off? Of course not! How can we manage service level, customer and executive expectations if we allowed all call center representatives time off? But giving call center representatives the opportunity created a lot of buzz and excitement among them and for a short time improved call center productivity.

4. Management-Call Center Role Reversal Day. Do you have questions about your call center management’s skills? Why not try a management-call center role reversal for a day. Instead of your call center representatives dealing with complex customer issues and your call center management "managing behind the desk," allow blocks of time in your day where your call center management are taking calls and your call center representatives are walking the call center floor as supervisors. Talk about interesting—you have seen nothing until you try this. I know there are many call center representatives that are good on the phone but will not make good call center supervisors or call center managers; there are also call center supervisors that are good at crunching numbers and managing the ACD queue but are horrible on the phones. All kinds of crazy personalities come out but this may be a good way for you to evaluate call center representatives that may (or may not) be ready for the next level and call center supervisors that may (or may not) be good fits for their role.

5. Gift Raffles. TVs, movie tickets, iPods, Blackberries, you name it! This is a lot of fun to do but also very expensive. One of my previous clients spent money to do a gift raffle during the holidays and asked me to M.C. the event. We had music, food, games–the environment was electric! The call center representatives were surprised and really appreciated the fact that the company invested so heavily in such an event because the call center representatives perceived that their employer did not care about them and their only interest in the call center representatives was "to make a sale." This event went a long way with changing the perception of the call center representatives and served as the foundation to build trust and appreciation with the employer. It was a fun time!

I hope these ideas are helpful. Whatever ideas you have or you like, let your call center representatives know that you appreciate them, and thank them for their hard work.