Key Drivers Contact Center Agent Engagement
ILLUSTRATION BY MATT BARNES
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What is it that makes the agents in certain contact centers especially enthusiastic about their jobs and more committed to delivering a high-quality customer experience on call after call? Higher pay alone won’t produce passionate concern for the company’s well-being and dedication to helping it achieve its vision or goals. The following are four key drivers found in centers with high levels of engagement.

1. Ask agents for their feedback—frequently. Companies with high engagement place a high priority on employee input, and they tend to solicit feedback more frequently than others. At Nicor National, management firmly believes that employee feedback is the cornerstone to creating a positive, open culture. The call center uses Voice of the Employee tools to collect unsolicited questions, suggestions and concerns from staff online. The company also conducts a monthly benchmarking survey, as well as regular culture surveys that are sent out to random employees, and collects feedback through monthly roundtables and daily management walkarounds.

2. Offer a transparent view of issues that affect customers. Sharing the big picture with agents—especially regarding issues that impact customer satisfaction—demonstrates their value in the organization, and ensures that they are well informed of company initiatives when speaking with customers. At SciQuest, an internal customer rating process helps the company to focus on continuously improving customer relationships. Action plans for improving individual customers’ ratings are posted on the intranet so that agents are kept up to date when they’re speaking with those customers.

3. Show agents how they impact the business. A key driver of engagement is the ability to link the agent’s work to the company’s performance. Nicor National leadership shares with staff information from monthly Voice of the Customer surveys. Once a quarter, the entire call center meets to go through the VoC feedback, to look at how the company is trending and to review verbatim comments from customers. The call center team discusses the drivers that create an engaged customer and what they need to do as a team and as individuals to create more of those experiences.

4. Demonstrate trust and respect for agents’ skills and knowledge. There is nothing more frustrating than working in an environment where you don’t have the authority to do the job that you were hired to do. At SciQuest, customer support reps are regularly involved in initiatives to tap their expertise, for instance, by teaming with product development to give feedback on how customers might view the functionality of new product features, or to identify any gaps that might cause issues with particular customer configurations or the way that they use the application. Customer support reps also participate in Kaizen events to improve support processes, like time to close tickets or to prevent issues and problems altogether. In addition, reps are encouraged to attend SciQuest’s user group meetings that take place several times a year, and each rep visits a customer’s site at least once a year with a colleague from account management or professional services.

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