Welcome to Spring! It’s time to clean the clutter and broken pieces out of our call centers and bring in some new ideas. To do this we need to avoid getting stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Even large call centers that pride themselves on innovation and efficiency often find that some burdensome processes and procedures fall through the cracks or are put on the back burner over and over again to never see the light of day.
It’s easy to have this happen when we are fighting fires every day…those emergencies that just can’t wait and will drain our time and energy. Some things are easy to start cleaning up and others will take time, but if we delay it won’t get any easier.
Here are a few of the common opportunities for cleaning up call centers:
Call Center Job Descriptions
When was the last time you honestly looked at your job descriptions in detail and compared the descriptions to what your reps and others are actually doing?
Some managers are giving new activities to employees without adding these to the job descriptions, despite the new work becoming long-term or never-ending. We may also need to look at the compensation and level of knowledge required.
An 18-year veteran agent recently told me that his company’s Vice President located at the main call center several states away, is now sending large batches of complicated work items to the agent’s satellite location. The VP told his call center manager that the reason she was sending the work was that no one at the main call center understood how to process the challenging work or complete it in a timely and accurate fashion. So the manager picked the veteran agent and brought the work to his desk, explaining that the VP needed this done for the reasons above.
The agent was not happy about this because this was not the first instance where he was asked to do work the others at corporate could not do, and he felt that he was not given compensation or a job level increase to reflect his higher skill levels. Others in the call centers were at his grade level but were never asked to handle these top-level projects. He also shared that the manager told him that he had no idea how to do the work.
If our call center job descriptions aren’t accurate, our grade and pay levels aren’t competitive or realistic for the work done, we are in danger of losing long-term agents and veterans.
Internal Processes in Our Call Centers
Are you using the same processes you inherited when you took the management position three years ago or have you changed some by putting on “band-aids” with the thought you would revisit and update in more detail later?
Our call center agents and customers are a great source of process improvement ideas but many times we collect the data and file away with the hope of one day doing something rather than taking immediate action. A delay can also happen if the process change requires C-suite approval or work completed by another department such as IT.
Find the processes that can be changed quickly and look likely to provide good results and start working on them first. Then identify the more challenging opportunities and have a plan for the steps needed to fix the broken or slower processes affecting both customers and reps. A timeline for completion is important too.
Be sure to reward agents who have ideas for processes that are useful and can be implemented quickly as well as the ideas that will be more involved and will take buy-in from the top. Agents have told me that they make suggestions but never hear anything back whether their idea was good, still being considered, or didn’t work out.
Are your coaches stuck in a rut? Are your forms old or is the scoring tracking online the same as they were three years ago?
Our coaches need to spring clean too and look at ways to drive creative coaching activities and motivation. Coaching using new ideas is a good way to mix things up and prevent agent boredom and complacency.
One fun activity I’ve done with managers or supervisors and their teams is a play on “speed dating.” For us, it is “speed role-play.”
We have two agents come into a training room and give them one role-play scenario. They have 1 minute to review it then we ask Agent A to be the customer and Agent B to act as the agent role. After they role-play back to back (no body language there), we ask the “customer” how they felt and why. We asked the agent if they would’ve done anything differently and why. Then, the coaches give feedback.
When we are done, Agent A returns to the call center and sends in Agent C who will now be the agent in a new scenario while Agent B is the customer.
The agents we have coached with using our Speed Role-Play have told us it was great fun and they enjoyed hearing how their coworkers approached scenarios. For the managers, it was a win since the agents didn’t have to be out of the queue very long and leaders saw both the training results and motivation were very positive.
Look for ways to clean out the old and bring in the new ideas that will bring you, your agents and your customers the best experiences and success!