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How to empower agents without unleashing contact centre anarchy.

One in three of today’s contact centre workers have a degree, which means they have been trained to think and to take responsibility for their own learning. Yet contact centre processes are designed to do the exact opposite. You don’t need to pay a consultant lots of money to understand why agent churn is so high.

Much better to invest in building employee loyalty. Especially given that customer defection studies show that 70% of the reasons customers leave can be traced to employee turnover factors.

Here are my top five tips for empowering agents:

  1. Invest time to make your employees feel valued, supported and motivated. It is massively motivating and empowering for people if you take the time to ensure they know what is expected of them both by the business and the customer.
  2. Introduce a coaching and mentoring programme. A comprehensive induction and training process is vital, but just as important is offering call agent coaching and support. A robust people-engagement framework should include regular collaborative coaching sessions with agents to facilitate improvement. Avoid one-way feedback sessions at all costs – unless you want to de-motivate and lose your employees.
  3. Allow your agents to break the rules! This one might sound a tad counter-intuitive, but it is probably one of the most powerful tools you have to increase First Call Resolution. Armed with knowledge both at product and contract level, agents can feel confident that the service they deliver meets the customers needs; and in those exceptional circumstance where they have to work outside of targets to resolve the customer’s query they can be confident in the knowledge that it isn’t the end of the world because they’ve run over by a minute or two.
  4. Encourage peer support. You can then start to take empowerment further as agents become recognised for their skills and knowledge and others can tap into this. I think it’s fair to say that if we believe that someone ‘knows their onions’ we’re much more inclined to ask them questions, get their views or ask for their feedback. This should be a natural progression as skill levels develop and something that the agent can strive for.
  5. Free up contact centre managers to spend time coaching and mentoring agents.This really should be their highest priority and engaging employees at all levels to take control of their own performance is the most important step towards empowerment. Read our white paper on contact centre gamification to find out how game-based recognition and reward can go a long way towards helping employees recognise how they can control the right outcomes for customers…