Whether you are a new manager at a call center or you have been working there for years, you will come up against a recurring challenge: How to motivate call center agents. This is something you’ll have to do again and again, and should be a top priority during your career as a call center leader.
Let me say that again: What you do to motivate call center agents will be one of the most important things you do during your leadership in a call center.
Yes, you’ll have reports to run and meetings to go to. You’ll have personnel meetings that are not fun and you’ll have strategy and direction shifted by organizational leadership. Those can consume you, as a call center manager. But at the end of the day what your team does on the phone will be the most important results you’ll get. No one is going to say, “Are you good at going to lots of meetings?” Instead, they’ll ask about call center metrics and your team’s performance.
This comes from your focus on your team and learning how to motivate them. Here are four motivational ideas to help you get better performance:
Motivate Call Center Agents with Dynamic Focus Metrics
This is so critical! One of the reasons engagement and performance programs fail is because they get stale. They get boring, old, and predictable. When you have dynamic (that is, changing) metrics you introduce new and fresh and fun into your agents’ lives.
Of course, we aren’t talking about moving their targets so they get confused or can never hit them. No one wants to work towards a moving target. They need to know something is set, with a time frame and a goal, and they can work towards it. But you should change that something regularly so they aren’t always working on the very same metric.
Have different metrics, or targets, every month or quarter. You can even figure out what all the metrics you’ll reward are for an entire year and publish that so people know what they will need to prepare for. You can build up excitement for the things you want your team to improve on. I bet you’ll find people plan on improving, and the trainings you do in preparation for those focus metrics will be received better.
In addition to having dynamic focus metrics, make sure you are rewarding and recognizing progress, efforts, and achievements daily. Pay attention to who is doing what and let them (and the rest of the team) know you are watching and appreciative. This might sound too simple but it’s a critical component to help motivate call center agents (and really, anyone!).
Finally, to really hit these focus metrics home, have a large, monthly tiered bonus tied to them. This is in addition to the daily rewards and recognition. These monthly bonuses are a great way to motivate call center agents towards your objectives, which should lead to increased productivity and performance.
Motivate Call Center Agents with Better Employee Scorecards
Of course you have scorecards. I want you to question whether they are the right scorecards.
Over time you might have found your score cards have become too busy and cluttered. They are confusing, or they are monitoring the wrong metrics. Maybe something that was important a couple of years ago, the last time you revised your scorecards, is not important anymore. Maybe changes at your organization or with your customers means what should be on your scorecard isn’t. Or, things that shouldn’t be still are.
You should regularly revisit your employee scorecards to make sure they make sense. The last thing you need is a metric system that feels outdated and confusing. When your employee scorecard feels outdated and confusing to your team they question every other metric system. You need to make sure your employee scorecards are current and measuring/monitoring the right things.
Better employee scorecards focus on five to seven metrics important to your employees. If you do more than seven you risk diluting focus and allowing your team to focus on things that really don’t matter. Keep this list short. Also, weigh each metric so they know what the most important metrics are. Without a weight they are all equally important, which usually isn’t the case. Of course, you should tie monthly rewards to scorecard results. These can be large, they can be tiered, but they should be meaningful enough to show you really care about their performance.
Every month you should do a SWOT analysis on the scorecard to ensure you have the right things on it. Don’t wait for massive organizational changes. Not only will this keep things fresh and relevant, they’ll be a reminder to you and your team that these things exist and are still important. This review might impact your budget allocation, showing your team what is most important to you.
Just make sure you don’t create a “moving target” scenario where people work on something but feel like they can never meet goals or objectives because they shift too often.
Motivate Call Center Agents with Peer and Supervisor Recognition
Peer and supervisor recognition is a key component to everything we do here at Snowfly. While everyone appreciates cash and other rewards, the power of recognition can’t be overstated. This is what’s called an “intrinsic reward” and it’s important to know that many studies have shown that intrinsic rewards are more valuable than extrinsic rewards, like cash.
Now, if you offered me a $50,000 reward for something I’ll be beyond delighted.
But imagine you offer me a $15 reward for the same thing. That’s almost insulting (if the accomplishment I had was really worthy of getting a $50,000 reward). I’m not saying that it’s better to get a mention in the newsletter and a pat on the back instead of $50,000, but perhaps a $15 reward sends the wrong message.
Whatever you do with the cash reward, know that getting peer and supervisor recognition is usually worth a lot more than $15. And, it’s free and easy to give. When people know their work is seen, and the organization recognizes they did something great, there’s a feeling of accomplishment and being appreciated that is awesome!
Snowfly has a peer and supervisor recognition system that really helps your team feel appreciated and seen. It’s easy to use and, because we have gamification on top of it, your team members are motivated to recognize and give kudos to one another. We’d love to talk to you and share how are system helps, as well as pitfalls of an employee engagement system that we’ve seen over the years.
Motivate Call Center Agents with Effective Training
Ah, training. You either love it or loathe it and I’m guessing most people do not love it. Trainings have a way of being boring and repetitive. But they don’t have to be.
I invite you to completely rethink your training: How you do it, what you train on, how you incentivize training, and how you measure results from any training sessions you’ve had. Rethink what you need your team to know and how you deliver this information. Rethink trainings so they are effective, engaging, and interesting instead of boring.
Of course, you’ll likely have to facilitate training on some boring stuff, but you don’t have to do it in boring way! Even if the content or topics is basic, or you’ve gone over it a million times, you can change things up and make it memorable. There are literally tons of books and plenty of blog posts and articles you can find to make training more interesting and impactful.
Think about training as a way to communicate information and not just a mandatory meeting so you can check your checklist. Think about your audience and their needs, as well as your organization’s needs. Think about how clever technology is that your employees use when not at work, and compare that to the training experience you give them. If your experience feels terribly old, you might lose their attention and interest.
Training can be fun, engaging, and impactful, but you need to be intentional about delivering a better experience in order to really motivate call center agents to do and be better.
Motivate Call Center Agents with Fun!
Last but certainly not least, motivate call center agents with fun! Put fun in everything you do. Lighten up those emails, brighten up office space, add fun stuff to onboarding packages. Not everything has to feel like the way movies show 1970s federal buildings: poorly lit, dirty white walls, oppressive, and drab.
Being a call center agent is stressful. How can you add fun to their daily experience? How can you make stressful calls more fun? Think about this, talk about it, brainstorm it, and you might come up with some effective tactics and techniques to change your entire work environment.
Fun at work is not a trivial idea. You want your team, who might be getting beat up on the phones, to know they are in a safe place. They need to know that yucky phone call doesn’t define their job, their job satisfaction, or their performance.
Not everyone will appreciate over-the-top, too-loud-and-colorful fun. But think about what fun you have infused into your workplace and where there are more opportunities to do so. We see fun contests in Snowfly all the time that tie to seasons, current events, playoffs, etc. These are things your employees are talking and thinking about when they are away from their desk… why not make those things fun at work, too?
It’s Your Job to Motivate Call Center Agents
If I were to ask you who the most revolutionary person in the call center world has been, who would you say? I’d love to get some names and study them. If you asked me, hands down, it would be the late Tony Hsieh. Here’s one of his books: Delivering Happiness.
Tony turned the whole experience around online shopping, shopping in general, and interfacing with call centers on its head. The reason I suggest studying Tony’s work is because you can get ideas that might make sense to disrupt your industry or organization, and create an amazing experience for your team and customers.
I’m not saying you’ll be the next Tony Hsieh but you can have a serious impact on this amazing experience. You don’t have to think about your call center as so system-driven and methodical that it can’t evolve into something much, much better. Don’t rely on one excellent leader to motivate call center agents, rather put things into place that doesn’t rely on a single leader. We’d love to hear what clever things you are doing to motivate call center agents at your organization, and we’ll share some of the best practices we’ve seen over the years. Reach out here: