Custom Built Agent Team

The perfect customer care agent is high-performing and engaged, at least according to managers but how does this fare against reality?

However, in reality, we’re capable of observing multiple ranges of performances from low, to average and finally high. Agents are doing the same job, but their performance varies so much simply because they’re all different people and we’re evaluating them with the same metrics. It’s natural that some will lag behind while others will excel above their peers.

Considering that everyone is different and has a plethora of experiences and expectations maybe the managers themselves should opt in for a unique personalised approach – recognise all these differences and accept them. Focus agent development and training around those, this will help tremendously with performance.

Personalise agents coaching sessions, adjust them to their needs and performance level.

In order to reach peak performance use these 5 steps.

 

Job description

Everyone has a job description but most of the time those are ignored or even forgotten about completely. Someone once told me “My job description is like a fairy tale; In a filing cabinet far, far away”. Dust the job description off, it is the most common denominator of your agents. It’s the best starting point, in won’t help you with performance issues but will let you learn what expectations your team has.

Put that knowledge to good use.

 

Expectations

Make sure all the agents in your contact centre are on the same page when it comes to performance expectations. The job description is a great starting point, but each team member can understand it in a totally different way and that is the way their performance will vary.

Communication is the basis of an effective team.

 

Diagnose performance

Agents need consistent metrics and performance evaluation methods those won’t substitute day-to-day coaching and performance management but will let you benchmark current performance and competency levels for each individual. You simply need to know what to tune up.

Pick the best tool to gauge their abilities and be aware of potential risks involved with each method.

 

Devise a plan

After carefully analysing each agent’s strengths and improvement opportunities, create a tune up plan. Create a custom made plan of action for each agent, do not generalise but make it relevant and specific to each person. The plan needs to be practical, be sure to include activities, online learning and company training.

Whatever you plan for your agents make sure it all ties down directly to the evaluation.

 

Implement the plan

Now the tune-up begins. The plan itself is a great topic for discussion between agents and managers, it will fuel their thirst for knowledge. No more wasted training and resources.

Your team is ready to reach its peak performance.

 

The cost associated with the aforementioned custom tune up is low while it provides great value. Tune up your staff and see them soar.

The #1 Job: Coaching

Once you embrace positive coaching, then employee morale will hit an all time high and you will be able to feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

contact centre agents are more engaged and show more enthusiasm and are more likely to succeed in their day to day tasks. Work becomes a great experience for your staff, you can literally feel the positive energy “crackling” in the air.

But if coaching sessions are negative or virtually non-existent, team morale will plummet.

Agents will become disconnected, absent minded and bored. This will result in lower quality of service as well as higher attrition rates.

 

Coach­ing is essential

High productivity and decent bottom-line results are not impossible in an environment where morale is low, but it is highly unlikely. As a coach, you need to remember that if you provide a better working experience for your contact centre agents, they will become more engaged and enthusiastic, and thus the customer experience will reflect that.

As a manager, you are responsible for your employees, you need to care for them – trust us, it’s the right thing to do. But if you believe that altruism has no place in the business world maybe those couple points will show you why coaching is so essential:

Positive coaching will lead to high morale among your contact centre agents, thus providing these long-term benefits:

  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Higher pro­duc­tiv­ity
  • Lower attrition rates
  • Higher cus­tomer satisfaction
  • Increased cus­tomer loyalty

 

Don’t fall into a trap

Don’t ever make the assumption that the correct path to high morale is providing contact centre agents with what they vocal majority of them want. Take a look back at your own career path and think back, what did you want as a “grunt” employee? Better pay, more “spare” time for non-work-related shenanigans and less work relates tasks – that sounds like the fastest path to minimalism.

If you want your employees to thrive, create a dynamic and positive environment, provide opportunities for self-development. Continuous learning will lead to constant improvements on multiple levels – knowledge is power, especially in the dynamic world of multi-lingual contact centres.

 

Make it happen

First and foremost, as the manager, you need to embrace the idea that coaching is the #1 job you are responsible for. Then, cultivate and spread the idea of positive coaching among your staff – all of them, no exception. Open communication and active participation should be encouraged, make agents aware that despite not being decision makers their input is highly valued and everyone can make a difference. Make them a part of “The Grand Plan”.

Creating this kind of positive environment is no easy task, but it goes a long way.

 

…don’t get discouraged

Every company has some “just get by” people and nothing will change that, no matter what you as the manager do to inspire and motivate them. Morale of the whole contact centre can be in danger, so when the time to act comes be firm. Issue out warnings to those contact centre agents with attitude problems and if that doesn’t help it’s best to terminate “get by-ers” on the spot.

BPO & The Cloud: A match Made in Heaven

It’s quite easy to notice the synergies between cloud computing and BPO.

Businesses around the globe acknowledge the benefits of cloud-based solutions and are aware of the competitive advantage those provide. Many enterprises are pushing for transitioning to a cloud-based environment.

This solution is mostly praised by small and mid-sized businesses as it provides a big cost reduction since there is no need to maintain complex in-house systems that require frequent upgrades and support.

This new level of flexibility a cloud-based environment provides is not only faster but more efficient with resource utilisation; your company will have even greater control over IT spending than ever before.

It’s no wonder that BPO and Cloud go so well together since both offer agility, scalability, reliability and cost reduction.

Traditionally, the BPO service provider maintains a large data centre infrastructure with all the technology to run the customer’s business processes. However, if the service provider has his infrastructure in the cloud, it can make it available at a much lower cost. That can even open the possibility of offering business processes from day one, thanks to utilising shared platforms, applications and sometimes whole infrastructures to transform their customers’ business processes.

Cloud’s advantages

The greatest benefit is the coming of the virtual shared service centre. The virtual centre support staffs remain in their offices but work together online in a standardised way.

 

Cost reduction

  • Hosting standard applications. No need to host these applications individually, since cloud BPO providers host them for their clients.
  • Offload capital expenses and move to an operational expense model
  • Control over expenses and operational costs, providers offer most of these services as a pay-per-use.
  • Utilization. Providers are able to achieve a higher utilisation by balancing differing timeliness and work peaks.
  • Reduced need for a disaster recovery plan. Cloud connectivity is a built-in disaster recovery measure.

Standardised

BPO providers have optimised their processes. They also have access to the latest platforms and newest technology. Clients can access these at a much lower cost than if they had to develop them in-house.

Free up internal resources

Since they no longer have to maintain the infrastructure.

Potential risks and challenges

Data protection seems to be the biggest concern since sensitive corporate information is being hosted and accessed over the Web. Service providers must be able to assure their clients about their security practices. (employee background security checks, segregation of employee functions and sufficient encryption.)

Also, compliance with government regulations is a key concern.

 

If BPO providers will be able to solve these issues Cloud will be here to stay for good and will be the most often picked solution amongst customers and providers alike.

 

Put The Right People in The Right Job

Recruiting right people for the right job has never been more important.

Providing great customer experience is the quintessential for contact centres and the biggest hurdle in achieving this goal is employee attrition. But how should managers and supervisors filter out applicants?

Want to know if your future employee has what it takes to make it in the multilingual environment of a multichannel contact centre?

Use these pointers:

 

Watch out for these essential skills

  • Call control and the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Communicating clearly and confidently, also grammar and spelling
  • Ability to follow through from the initial call to any follow-up correspondence
  • Ability to handle delicate situations and attention to detail

 

Ability to remain calm under pressure

It’s one of the key attributes you should look out for when recruiting contact centre agents. Clear communications skills, remaining calm under pressure, confidence and expert knowledge are essential.

 

Competence-based interview

Be sure to test skills and competencies of an agent with live role play action. Make the scenario as close to the actual contact centre environment as possible, it will contribute to the recruitment process tremendously and also make it as interactive as possible. Also, request for real-life examples when the candidate is speaking about previous experience, this will serve as great insight as to what should you look out for during the role play stage.

 

Recruit in numbers

Try to always recruit groups of five to eight future contact centre agents, and possibly avoid recruiting one agent at a time. Small groups will allow your future employees to learn from one another during the training process. This will also strengthen their self-esteem, especially in newbies that are entering the industry for the first time since they are not alone. Make sure that agents are aware that “there are no silly questions” during the training process, make them feel comfortable while asking even the most obvious ones.

 

Clear expectations

Be clear on what is expected of a particular project or a team. Be precise when explaining about company culture and policies. Honesty during the interview really helps, if an agent finds something uncomfortable after becoming an employee he’ll be more likely to quit, or won’t be as efficient as you expected him to be from the information gathered during the recruitment process. Be honest – it’s that simple.

 

Training

With attrition rates for contact and call centres, especially in the multilingual environment are on an all time high – the average turnover rates are higher than any other industry. You can tone those rates down easily, invest in training and coaching. Prepare your new agents, show them what to expect and playback some difficult calls that ended in a successful resolution. Five to three days of training is money well spent.

 

Be on the lookout for candidates that can work under pressure, can communicate clearly and at the same time can deal with a plethora of new and exciting situations. At the same time provide great training and self-development opportunities, those will ensure company loyalty.

In the long run, these basic pointers will be your “secret weapon” in the war on staff attrition.