Agent Engagement: Why it Matters and 6 Ways to Nurture it
In a world where customer experience is a key to business success, contact center agents play an important role as brand ambassadors of your organization. By the time a customer reaches an agent, they’ve likely tried all self-service options and want someone who can talk with them, understand their problem, and quickly resolve it.
A customer’s encounter with your employee has the power to shape their attitude about your organization, their experience doing business with your company, and even their buying decisions. If one of your agents is disengaged, it will be reflected in their customer interaction. It’s the emotional connections between employees and customers that create memorable service – both good and bad.
So, when workplace harmony is disrupted, an employee’s output and productivity can drastically decrease. Disengaged employees often can’t focus on the work at hand and that can impact your organization’s overall productivity. Satisfaction in the workplace starts with agent engagement and there are several ways you can foster it, and potentially make your brand more successful.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement can mean different things to different people. Your company’s culture and vision have a large impact on how engagement is viewed, and subsequently, how it’s measured.
Ultimately, engagement is about creating the right environment and conditions for your employees to fulfill their potential, to give their best each day, and to have an enhanced sense of well-being. Engagement is a commitment to an organization’s goals and values, and to its overall success. Trust, integrity, and two-way communication fuel employee engagement. And, when done right, engagement can boost agent performance and increase the chance of business success.
6 Ways to Keep Your Call Center Agents Engaged
- Start with Company Culture. Organizational culture and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. Strive to ensure that your agents feel happy, supported, and empowered in their roles, and consider the following questions:
- Does your staff feel comfortable speaking up about concerns?
- Do you recognize and reward employees for their success, progress, and achievements?
- Do you provide clear expectations of what you want your agents to achieve? Can they define what “success” looks like?
- Focus on Values and Seek Feedback. It is important to recognize agent performance based on actions that reflect your company’s values, instead of being based purely on goals or financial results.
If your contact center does an annual agent engagement survey, consider doing this quarterly for a more timely understanding of employee engagement. A survey should be anonymous, short, ask relevant questions, give the opportunity to provide comments, and seek input on what, where, and how to improve.
Transparency is key, regardless of the survey results. Share the feedback with the entire team and ask for their help and participation in designing plans for improvement. Creating opportunities for your agents to be heard will create a feeling of connection, engagement, and a sense of belonging.
- Paint the Bigger Picture. It’s vital that your agents know their role in achieving the business goals. Or, how their piece of the jigsaw puzzle completes the bigger picture.
This is where team managers come in. Great team leaders are the cornerstones of success in any contact center. They know what engages each team member at a personal level — whether it’s public recognition, empowerment, added responsibility, development opportunities, or simply the chance to be heard.
- Invest in Technology that Supports Engagement. What’s the point of having a company culture that celebrates honest and open communication, if you don’t have a collaboration tool that makes it easy for your team to connect, share best practices, and recognize each other?
Determine the kind of technology your contact center needs to facilitate productivity, efficiency, and to drive engagement. With the right technology, your agents can resolve problems faster and ensure greater customer satisfaction across all communication channels.
- Make it a Game. Explore employee engagement activities like gamification, which continue to grow in popularity. With gamification, your agents know what’s expected of them and how they’re performing against KPIs. Agents are incentivized to be their best and are rewarded for performance improvement.
- Foster Team Collaboration. When employees share knowledge and collaborate, it feeds the company culture. Make it easy for your people to share best practices.
Five Areas of Impact
Having engaged employees isn’t just a “nice to have.” It has the potential to directly impact five important areas of your business:
- Profit. A Gallup report found that engaged employees make a point to show up to work and do more work. On average, highly engaged business units see a 17% increase in productivity.
- Expenses. A disengaged employee costs employers between £3,400 and £10,000 in wasted salary each year.
- Customer Experience. If an employee doesn’t take pride in their work, isn’t an advocate of the brand, and is generally demotivated, customers are more likely to have a poor experience.
- Agent Retention. Engaged agents stick around even if it’s a high-turnover environment.
- Absenteeism. Engaged employees take fewer sick days than their disengaged counterparts, which has a direct impact on your company’s financial health.
The role of a contact center agent has never been more important. These employees have the potential to instantly shape a customer’s view of your brand and organization. In other words, agents are the companies face to clients.
When you invest in your team’s engagement, you spark key benefits and attributes such as productivity, communication, trust, empowerment, appreciation, transparency, collaboration, and loyalty. But perhaps more importantly, when you nurture employee engagement, you equip your agents with the support, tools, and feedback they need to deliver an exceptional customer experience.