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All inclusive: why involving your agents can transform the call centre.

The public perception of call centres has traditionally been that they are the the ‘dark satanic mills’ of today’s Britain. There has recently been some discussion around whether this is still the case or whether, perhaps the evolution of customer service has transformed the opportunities agents now have.

It’s true that customer service has evolved from a bolted-on afterthought for businesses to something that now permeates to the boardroom, and is becoming one of the core drivers for business decisions - but does this really create more opportunity for those at the frontline of the call centre?

Not necessarily. There may be more of an emphasis on customer-orientated thought in business strategy, but the reality is that the call centre is still an organisation with a wide-bottomed pyramid structure, which makes it very difficult to promise opportunities to everyone.

There are a large number of people working in call centres who are intelligent and looking for a challenge, and it’s up to management to tap into this and transform the attitudes of agents and the overall culture of the call centre.

Emphasis on customer satisfaction is something we see in almost every call centre, but what we rarely see is a culture to support this, and most importantly, an emphasis on employee satisfaction. You cannot achieve a customer-centric culture without satisfying the employee first. So what can call centres do to achieve this?

The key is involving agents - if processes don’t work, or if there are recurring problems, nobody is more equipped than the people on the frontline to provide insight into exactly why that might be. Ask them what the business can do to improve things for them, and what they might change about their roles in order to do a better job. As a result, agents will feel included, involved and valued. This not only has a great impact on their job satisfaction, but is reflected in an increase in the quality of every customer interaction.

Call centres needn’t live up to the reputation of being the ‘dark satanic mills’ the public perceives them to be, but it’s up to call centres themselves to change that by transforming their contact centre culture, by motivating and engaging agents directly.