Resistance is futile: the impact of bad change management on the call centre.


Drastic change can be one of the most disruptive things to operations and performance in the call centre. Over time, both processes and software can become outdated and ineffective – but due to employee resistance to change, things only change when they have to. This makes call centre change management incredibly difficult.

Employee resistance to change creates a tricky challenge for change managers and call centre leaders. Whether the resistance comes in the form of a dip in performance, higher rates of attrition, or even sudden and damaging disengagement.

The bottom line is that change affects people, and call centres have lots of them. This is why it’s crucial for call centre change management to be handled intelligently, for individuals and the organization as a whole.

So, what can call centre leaders do to limit resistance and negativity when making necessary and transformative changes to the organisation? Here are three surefire ways to make sure any change goes as smoothly as possible.

Communicate the value of change.

If agents don’t see the value in change, it’s not unusual for them to become averse to it. It’s up to call centre leaders to communicate change as a must, not as an option. This doesn’t exactly mean giving them the ‘my way or the highway’ line, but simply by outlining the benefits.

When handling change amongst your teams, avoid one to one meetings and creating opportunities for chinese whispers. Instead, bring your team together, explain why the specific change is important and essential, and explain exactly what it is you expect of them during this period.

Communicating change openly in a group setting is useful, but teams should have the opportunity to speak to you on a one-to-one basis if they have concerns or questions. Ensuring agents are comfortable in being able to approach their team leader is essential in maintaining an open and honest relationship.

Create a culture of engagement.

It’s not unusual to feel like things are out of your control when the tides of change roll in, so a common response is stubborn resistance. On the other hand, change championed by those ultimately affected by it makes for a truly impactful transformation.

The key here is engaging your team in the process by asking them what they’d like to see and experience as a result of the change – what else could be improved?

However you choose to communicate, ensure you emphasise the need for change, what is expected of them, and find out how they think or feel about the situation. Communicate the value of change, then engage them in a discussion.

If you want to take engagement that extra step further, give certain team members responsibility for parts of the project. This is most effective when you involve those most averse to change – giving agents who typically push back a little esteem goes a long way.

Recognise and celebrate success.

As change is introduced and implemented, it’s important to consistently recognise progress and praise those who are helping facilitate it – we don’t need to tell you that people who are appreciated are happier and more productive.

As a Team Leader, it’s your responsibility to keep the value of change communicated, your team engaged, and ensure effort is met with recognition – a simple ‘nice job’, or a ‘thank you’ can work wonders.

Call centre change management done right.

Change can be completely transformative, but only when managed in a consistent, structured and flexible way. It’s natural to be averse to change as resistance is almost always a given, but with communication, engagement and recognition, you can avoid the usual pitfalls of change management in the call centre.

Change can often create resistance through disengagement. If you’d like to learn more about tackling it effectively, download our guide – ‘The Team Leader’s Guide to Motivating Disengaged Agents’.

By Tom Palmer
Tom is EvaluAgent’s Head of Digital and takes the lead on developing and implementing our digital and content management strategies which results in creating a compelling, digital-first customer marketing experience.

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