Stop Approaching Call Center Agent Engagement Like a HR Manager!

Rarely, within the sea of discussion related to call center agent engagement, does the reality of the issue emerge: it should not be approached like a typical human resources concern.

While many "experts" and customer management leaders who talk about agent engagement say their commitment is to driving business results, their actual commitment is to a HR-friendly, "happy" working environment. It seems so intuitive that agents will be more engaged, more productive and more efficient in a fun environment, that they rarely question the overall impact of their employee-centric strategies. They assume that as long as their culture remains "pro-employee," the promised benefits in retention, revenue and an improved customer experience will follow.

But, as Dick Finnegan, CEO of C-Suite Analytics and presenter at the 3rdAnnual Call Center for Financial Services Summit reminds, these quintessential "HR" focuses are not necessarily best for achieving what leadership really wants—a better, more profitable call center function with better, more-engaged, less-likely-to-leave agents.

Agent engagement is commonly "thought of in typical, human resources-driven programs. We want people to stay longer, to be engaged, so we’re going to have employee appreciation week…we’re going to have more food, we’re going to have better newsletters, we’re going to have town meetings," explains Finnegan in this exclusive podcast interview. "It’s just that the research tells us, those things have nothing to do with why people are engaged or why they stay."

According to Finnegan, leadership consistently makes this perception mistake when evaluating its call center policies. Though customer service leaders will universally declare a commitment to their employees, when it comes to acting on that commitment, few go about it correctly.

"They’ll come back and tell you about employee programs but not business-driven processes. That’s the gap that needs to be filled," explains Finnegan.

And as C-level decision makers assess strategy based on big picture dollars-and-cents, not on vacuum and engagement scores, those who actually want to make progress with their agent strategies must adopt the business mindset.

Advises Finnegan, "If you talk about retention in percent and engagement in scores, you’re speaking mandarin to executives, because they speak in dollars. If you can’t convert the concepts to dollars, it’s very hard to get those executives to be as motivated as you’d like them to be to get behind efforts."

What are the correct ways to measure the success of agent engagement? Can you really engage those from Generation Y, who do not seem as excited about working in call centers? How is the rise of multi-channel communication changing engagement? What can we learn from Google about proper employee management?

Finnegan answers these questions—and more—in this exclusive podcast. And if you like what you hear, check out the agenda for the 3rdCall Center for Financial Services program, which features Finnegan as a speaker!