Are You Showing Sincere Agent Appreciation?
We train our agents to thank our customers and show appreciation for their business. We coach to ensure that they make the customer feel important and valued, and sound sincere when they do this. A poorly given thanks is no better than saying nothing and the customer can hear the insincerity in our word choices, tone and the attitude shown by the agent throughout the interactions. Showing no interest at the start or during the call and then saying thanks at the end will only make things worse.
As managers, we also need to make sure we are showing the same sincere consistent appreciation to our agents, as well as our quality analysts, frontline center leaders and others responsible for keeping our customers happy and our business profitable.
Top Agent or Perfect Skills Appreciation:
We may plan extensively for motivational programs, hoping to inspire and keep our best employees. There are Rep of the Month, Best Quality and other contests that become a part of our monthly and quarterly budgeting and planning. We may have a variety of programs in place for rewards and recognition, but are they seen as corporate “flavors of the month” or as sincere appreciation?
While these special programs are wonderful to have in place for our top agents, many agents who aren’t in the top 2% in performance have told me that they aren’t motivated by these. The agents who are average to above average are saying that they are striving to be their best but are feeling unappreciated and de-motivated if the same top 1 or 2 agents are lauded and rewarded month after month.
They don’t begrudge the top people their rewards but wish there was also recognition for showing improvement or going above and beyond for internal or external customers at times.
It’s important for us to show appreciation to not only the top agents but also to agents making effort to be their best.
“Thanks for your hard work team!” “Great job everyone!” “You all are the best!”
Some agents cringe when their VP or Manager shouts this out at monthly meetings because they feel they are said simply because their leaders are expected to say them according to their manager motivational manual. These appreciation phrases definitely sound insincere when coming from a leader who hasn’t really shown any interest in agents during the rest of the month.
Other agents have observed that not everyone on their team has been doing their share of work. In fact some tell me that they know that they are taking more calls, more emails, more chats than others on the team and handling these interactions positively.
In this type of unbalanced center situation, the agents resent being part of a “Great job, everyone!” talk from a manager and would prefer to be recognized for their own efforts.
New Hire Appreciation
Supervisors who do little to motivate and train new reps once they join the team are not only missing the opportunity to engage with them, but may also be creating ill will among the seasoned agents. Sometimes experienced agents are left with the task of being the sole motivator of their new co-workers. In one such case, the agent told me that they felt sorry for the new employees being neglected and were trying to help when they could but feared their own performance stats were being affected.
Showing appreciation for beginning level efforts, for questions asked to help them learn and other efforts they are making in their new position should be first and foremost the supervisor and manager’s roles. This early engagement and motivation will go a long way to helping the new agent become a valued member of the team.
The Importance of Simple Words to Engage with Agents
Some agents say that they rarely hear the simple words, “Thank you” from their leaders, or when they do hear it, they feel that the words are said without sincerity given the actions of the leaders in the center.
We train our agents to customize their show of appreciation based on the customer situation to make the end of our interaction and personalized instead of the robotic, “Thank You for calling XYZ Company. Goodbye”. Our agents also deserve to hear you say thank you for specific things they are doing to improve, to engage customers and to help our business be successful.
If we aren’t demonstrating our appreciation on a regular basis and in a sincere manner, our weak attempts will do more harm than good.