How to deliver an engaging contact centre employee experience
The contact centre employee experience (EX) has always been vital to creating a great customer experience. Happy, motivated staff deliver better service that delights customers, solves their problems, and increases their loyalty.
However, poor contact centre EX doesn’t just impact customer satisfaction. It also increases staff turnover, as unhappy customer service employees will vote with their feet and seek employment elsewhere. The rise of hybrid working also opens up more opportunities for dissatisfied staff as it means distance to the office is less of a factor.
As well as potentially losing talented, knowledgeable employees, with all the costs that this brings, poor contact centre EX means you simply won’t get the best out of your people. Demotivated agents are unlikely to be convincing ambassadors for your brand, particularly when customers are looking for increased support during a recession.
The problem of unhappy staff isn’t limited to the contact centre. Gallup estimates that globally 19% of employees are actively disengaged at work, with just 21% actively engaged. However, agent retention has always been an issue for many contact centres. A poor EX will only make this existing problem worse. Increasing engagement delivers major benefits in terms of greater customer satisfaction, improved retention, lower absenteeism, and higher productivity.
Improving the contact centre employee experience therefore requires organisations to focus on four key areas:
1. The physical working experience
As your agents spend so much time there, you need to ensure that the working environment is comfortable for them. Start by thinking about what it is like to physically work in your contact centre. Is the office itself comfortable and welcoming or dark and dingy? Do you provide staff with facilities such as break rooms and kitchens? How do you welcome new starters and what opportunities do you provide for training? More importantly in today’s world do you offer the chance to work flexibly from home? And, if so, do you provide the support to ensure that agents have everything they need to work effectively out of the office?
2. The digital experience
Customer service agents rely on technology to do their jobs. However, in many contact centres solutions have been added in a piecemeal fashion. This means agents need to switch between multiple applications to complete even the simplest tasks. Ensure you are delivering a seamless digital experience, such as through unified desktop solutions and cloud-based environments that support effective remote working.
3. The cultural experience
Many contact centres are known for their efforts to build team spirit through an active programme of social events. Others have focused heavily on supporting agent wellbeing through hotlines and wellness sessions. These all deliver benefits in reducing stress and creating togetherness. However, it is important to back up these initiatives with caring, open managers and strong communication to ensure that agents always feel valued.
4. The operational experience
By their nature, contact centres are driven by processes. These aim to deliver a consistently high-quality experience to all customers, across all channels, at all times. That can mean that agents are constantly monitored against a range of performance targets, and have to follow rigid routines, such as end of call wrap ups or updates to multiple systems. While clearly performance needs to be monitored, look at how you can put in place fair metrics. These should focus on customer outcomes, rather than internal metrics such as how many calls are handled per hour. Also, look at how you can streamline and automate processes to free up agent time and remove repetitive tasks that don’t deliver value.
Happy staff lead to happier customers
For all of these areas, the key point is to listen to your staff. Find out what they like about the current contact centre employee experience – and what they’d change. Collecting feedback, such as through surveys, suggestion boxes, and one-to-ones with managers should be the first step. Then act on your findings, making changes and communicating what you are doing back to your people. If you can’t change something immediately, explain why and if possible, involve staff themselves in creating alternative solutions. Simply knowing that you are listening will help to motivate your agents.
It is ironic that while contact centre leaders increasingly focus on customer experience, many still don’t apply the same effort to understanding and improving the employee experience. Given the central importance of happy staff to creating happy customers, this needs to change. Otherwise, many contact centres will find their staff deserting them for jobs which offer the experience they are looking for.
Employee experience is one of the top 5 contact centre trends we’ve identified that customer service leaders need to focus on now. Find out what the other four are – and how technology can help drive CX success in our new guide.