Building an exceptional contact center operation is a multi-faceted project, involving the coordination of cutting-edge technology, strong workforce management and stellar quality assurance at every level. However, the most effective and innovative call centers aren’t defined solely by these components, but rather the strength of the culture that fuels the daily efforts and attitudes of the representatives. Simply put, a contact center that excels in these cultural aspects is much more likely to satisfy customers, capitalize on its potential and retain quality representatives.
The question then becomes: How do managers and strategists create a call center culture that truly inspires and motivates agents on a consistent, reliable basis? Here are four factors that play into the development of cultural excellence in the call center, and how decision-makers can bring out the best in their agents and deliver the ultimate customer experience.
1. Dedicated group support:
Typically, call center outsourcing companies will scatter responsibilities across its entire workforce, leaving any agent to juggle multiple brands at a time. While this may seem like an intuitive and sometimes cost effective approach from a utilization perspective, the cultural impact of this strategy is far from preferable. Instead, representatives should be dedicated to a particular brand, as this will fortify their expertise and increase their familiarity with a company’s products, policies, procedures and customer needs and expectations over time.
“To improve contact center culture, representatives should be dedicated to a particular brand.”
In other words, agents will grow accustomed to a brand’s cultural nuances faster and more thoroughly if they are assigned a single, unwavering mission. This also simplifies things for call center managers, supervisors and quality assurance team members, who can also dedicate themselves to a particular brand and work towards being fully engrossed in its unique take on customer service.
2. Longevity and retention:
Keeping call center employees on board for an extended period of time has always been a challenge for contact center leaders, and according to InContact, the turnover rate in these environments is around 26 percent. To combat attrition and ensure that staff members stay engaged for the long haul, the best call center operations have strategies to boost retention and meet the needs of the representatives they employ. With happy, veteran team members on their side, the call center culture can thrive.
This is why winning call center operations create agent appreciation and loyalty programs that compel representatives to remain dedicated over time. These can include cash rewards, extra in-office perks and even paid vacations based on the level of devotion and experience shown by a particular employee.
3. Training and development:
Workplace culture must always be evolving and improving, and staff members also expect to continue to develop alongside the brands they represent. This is why strong ongoing training programs must be a staple of any contact center culture, especially as representatives climb the ranks and take on steeper challenges and responsibilities. As an article from ICMI pointed out, managers should create development structures that balance direct supervisor feedback, formal training opportunities and informal learning to ensure the growth of a well-rounded workforce.
“Since culture is ultimately defined by our actions, agents need training to help them clearly understand what’s expected,” explained contributor Jeff Toister, president of Toister Performance Solutions. “Training helps agents distinguish between workplace behaviors that are valued and those that are not.”
4. Open office environment:
The atmosphere of the call center itself is extremely important to the morale and performance of the workforce, which is why the best operations create open office layouts that make every agent feel like a valued team member. Removing the obstructive high cubicle walls that typically define call centers can have a huge impact on the way agents work together and take on the challenges they encounter throughout the day. When representatives can see each other, the office environment can foster connections, improve communication and lead to better performance.