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Maximize call center efficiency with motivated and skilled agents

One way to make your call center more efficient? Make sure your agents are motivated and have the training they need to succeed. In this expert response Donna Fluss explains how to get started.

How we can we get started with maximizing the efficiency, skills and motivation of call center agents? I am just looking for some basic suggestions.
First rule of call center efficiency: If your call center agents are motivated, they are much more likely to want to do a good job than if they are unhappy and feel unappreciated by customers and management. As highly-motivated agents are often the most productive, all call center managers should strive to build an operating environment where agents feel encouraged and supported and are recognized and rewarded for outstanding performance. For example, agents who receive an outstanding quality assurance review or semi-annual/annual performance appraisal are likely to perform even better going forward than they did in the past. What this underscores is that it's not simply good management to reward outstanding call center agents, it's essential for call center efficiency and for overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Successful call center managers use a variety of techniques to motivate their staff. Some of the techniques are long-term in nature, as they take time to set up and implement, while others are more tactical and can be implemented quickly. Both are necessary to build an outstanding call center.

Here are a few strategic recommendations:

  1. Align the goals of the contact center and the enterprise.
  2. Build a warm, welcoming and fair working environment.
  3. Involve agents in the decision-making process.
  4. Empower agents.
  5. Provide frequent and consistent coaching for agents.
  6. Reward excellent performers.
  7. Establish an "Executive QA" program.
  8. Promote from within.

Here are a few shorter-term tactical recommendations:

  1. Encourage agents to help each other and share suggestions for improvements.
  2. Make sure managers and supervisors are accessible to agents.
  3. Establish an agent "buddy" system.
  4. Foster open dialogue with your agents.
  5. Accommodate schedule changes on a fair basis.
  6. Use a variety of motivational tactics.

It's critical for agents to believe that management is fully committed to their success. People like to work for people who believe in them.

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