July 13, 2009
There are 3 fundamental needs that each employee has that must be fulfilled in order to be satisfied. They are emotional, physical and mental needs. In part 2 I would like to discuss the emotional needs. Here is a short list of things that can help you fulfill the mental needs.
- Recognize employees for a job well done - Be sure to find things employees are doing well and recognize them for a job well done! No need for a lot of hupla or complicated incentive programs… A simple “Thank you” or “way to go” will go a long way!
- Make sure employees know how important there role is – Working in contact center can become repetitive and representatives can lose sight of how important their job and the role they play in satisfying the customer and helping the company reach goals. Be sure to talk to your employees about the impact they have on each and every customer and how they play a critical role in the company’s success.
- Empower your employees - We have a tremendous amount of talent locked up inside our contact centers and it’s time to empower our employees to use their experience and knowledge to improve performance and the customer experience.
What are some of the things your company has done to ensure you are meeting employee need #2 - the emotional need?
April 15, 2009
Satisfying Employees Part 2 – Meeting their Mental needs
There are 3 fundamental needs that each employee has that must be fulfilled in order to be satisfied. They are physical, mental and emotional needs. In part 2, I would like to discuss the mental needs which is about whether or not you are providing your workforce with the training and coaching they need to be confident and competent in their jobs. Here is a short list of things that can help you fulfill the mental needs.
Transitioning from new hire training to the floor. Most companies do a pretty good job at new hire training but when that’s over, many employees are left to sink or swim. Be sure to have some sort of transitional coaching or mentorship available as you could possibly loose some really great employees right out of the gate.
Ongoing Coaching and Development. Successful and satisfied contact center agents need ongoing coaching and development to increase performance and close skill gaps. This is an ongoing process and time and resource must be allocated to this important task. If you think you can’t afford it listen to this quote from a recent Gallup study. “Companies who implemented coaching and development programs were 50% more likely to have lower turnover, achieve 27% greater profitability and have a 56% higher customer loyalty rating.” Think you can’t afford a coaching and development program? I say you can’t afford NOT to have one.
March 9, 2009
I was recently ina North American Call Center Professionals discussion group and was asked for an incentive and reward idea. The most popular recognition program I ever implemented went something like this. Agents were recognized for doing something special. It could be anything really like staying late, cleaning up the kitchen, great customer call or helping a newbie. Supervisors printed up a certificate, stuffed a small prize in a balloon (like a Starbucks card, ½ hour off with pay or a “get out of adherence free” card. They then blew up the balloon with helium and attached it to a remote control car and drove the car to the agent’s workstation. People could hear and see the car and balloon coming. We delivered the balloon with prize inside and certificate and recognized the agent for a job well done! The sup would walk away and that’s when the magic happened. Everyone was stretching their headset cords wanting to know what the agent did! I also wanted to share my golden rule when it comes to incentives and rewards. You need to make sure that the incentive rewards your top performers, encourages your developing performers and de-motivates your slackers.
February 24, 2009
Today, I was in a North American Call Center Professionals discussion group and a question came up about what industry standards are for shrinkage. Shrinkage is the percentage of paid time that agents are not on calls, making calls or in after-call work mode.
This always seems to surprise folks but the average shrinkage percentage in a contact center generally runs between 30-35%. If you are not tracking and accounting for this statistic you could quickly find your self understaffed or seemingly understaffed. This 30-35% includes planned and unplanned shrinkage. Planned shrinkage is items such as breaks, scheduled training, coaching, meetings and lunches; basically anything that is planned for in the workforce schedule. Unplanned shrinkage makes up the rest and that is for items such as sick time and unavailable time not scheduled.
As far as a breakdown of the 30-35%, I have found that it varies by organization due to factors such as sick time as well as training, coaching and development time.
Are you currently calculating your total shrinkage percentage and what it accounts for? I’d love to hear how this statistic breaks down in contact centers.
February 24, 2009
I had a customer contact me today and asked me to weigh in on a quality evaluation form dilemma. Here it is:
“Our current quality form is formatted in a manner that it takes the points possible and divides that by the points earned to create the agent scored percentage. The problem raised is that the points possible can be reduced if an element does not apply on the form. When this happens, the remaining items increase in weight and the agent receives a lower score when/if they make an error in the call handling.
To mitigate this impact, one our sups have suggested that we start the agent at the top of the points possible and they only lose point when an error is made basically eliminating the N/A issue all together.
We have differing opinions on the best approach here and I’ve trying to see if there is an industry best practice as it relates to scoring logic.”
Here was my response to Marsha:
I would love to weigh in on your scoring dilemma and it is one I have come across many times before. General best practices in this area are as follows:
- N/A’s are an important part of your QA form but you need to make sure that each N/A has a valid chance of being applicable. Another words, if you have an N/A that is selected 90% of the time or higher perhaps you should question whether or not it should take space up on your form.
- Never, ever, EVER use “gimmie” points for NA’s. If a skill was not performed then they should receive zero points not maximum points possible. Don’t “start the agent at the top of the points possible and only lose point when an error is made basically eliminating the N/A issue all together.” as you state below. You will not gather accurate statistics this way and people will come to expect these unwarranted points.
- Yes, it is true that if N/A’s are checked it weights the other skills heavier just because there are less skills to divide the overall number by but that is ok. I had a wise QA Manager from Starbucks once tell me that “The other skills should be worth more if N/A’s are checked as there are less skills for the agent to demonstrate.” I have had tons of conversations about this at networking sessions and the majority agrees.
Would you like to weigh in? I’d love to hear from you on this subject!
February 17, 2009
There are 3 fundamental needs that each employee has that must be fulfilled in order to be satisfied. They are emotional, physical and mental needs. In part 1 I would like to discuss the physical needs. We are talking about ergonomics, comfort ant ease of use. Here is a short list of things that can help you fulfill the physical needs.
- Fitted headsets with noise control. While the noise control will offer your customers a better experience, it will also save your agents from having to repeat themselves increasing talk time.
- Proper lighting. If the lighting is not right it can be hard on the eyes and straining creates headaches and loss of focus.
- Ergonomically fitted chairs. We don’t wear the same pant size so why would we all fit comfortably in the same chair. Chairs come in different sizes so be sure you don’t order the one size fits all.
- Workstation height and angle. Proper workstation height and placement of telephone, keyboard and mouse make a big difference limit reaching and stretching thus avoiding workplace injuries such as neck, back and hand.
- Heating and Cooling. Maintaining a comfortable temperature will keep illnesses down and moral up.
What are some of the things your company has done to ensure you are meeting employee need #1 - the physical need?
February 17, 2009
One of the questions I am asked often is how to improve the performance of an employee. In order to do this I have found there is one important first step. You must identify the reasons behind why an employee is not performing up to standards. It is always one of three things. Either they can’t, won’t or don’t know how.
- If they can’t it’s because they physically or mentally not able to perform the job.
- If they won’t it’s because they don’t want to, don’t care to or don’t see a reason to perform the job.
- If they don’t know how it’s because they need further instruction or guidence on how to perform the job.
Once you identify the reason, you can develop an action plan for improvement.
February 17, 2009
I conducted some research for a leadership presentation I was developing and came accross something entitled “Diffusion of Innovation”. This was a study published by Everett Rogers years ago which put our population into 5 different catagories for how we handle change.
- Innovators – 2.5% are most willing to take risk
- Early Adopters – 13.5% are on the leading edge of change
- Early Majority – 34% are deliberate regarding a particular change
- Late Majority – 34% are more deliberate, skeptical and swayed by others
- Laggards – 16% are the most deliberate and rely directly on those they trust
Ah… now it makes perfect sense. Combine Late Majority and Laggards and 50% of the population is resistent to change. Understanding which catagory an individual fits into could certainly assist a leader in how to personalize a change request. Now here is another thought… How do these classifcations fit with the different generations. When I think of the younger Gen X’rs and Millenials I see them as Innovators and Early Adopteors. Any thoughts as to how they will tip this Diffusion of Innovation Scale?
February 17, 2009
I was just asked the following question by a member of the Contact Center Professional Group and I thought I would share the question and my answer.
Q. Does anyone have any experience implementing a “Distributed Agent Workforce” in their existing Contact Center? We are looking at implementing this solution in our existing Contact Center for costs savings, morale boosting and overall efficiency purposes. I have read several articles, but am interested to hear the experience from this group. The do’s and don’ts, pros and cons.
A. I’ve had a quite a bit of experience with remote agent programs and I’m glad you are asking these questions before implementing. Statistically a reported 60% of home-based agent programs fail. Not because they are not a great idea but because there is a lack of planning, resources or know-how to develop a well thought out and executed program.
In your research I’m sure you’ve heard what some of the pros are with these programs. I have seen first hand how they have reduced costs, attracted and retained top-performing employees, increased customer satisfaction and overall increased the performance of centers. As you stated though, you must watch out for pitfalls and each area of a distributed workforce program is a potential pitfall if it is not designed and implemented correctly. Make sure you account for polices and procedures around dependent care, home-office workspace, employee engagement, communications, evaluating, coaching and training, hiring profile for a home-body, connectivity, technology, security and safety. You must develop a documented guide to house your program details.
If you would like further assistance with your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
Connie Smith www.spotonenterprises.com