From defensive to empowered agents

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Contact centre managers really don’t have it easy. Trying to satisfy relentless head office demands to do more with less while keeping agent teams happy and motivated is hard enough, then overlay ever more complex incoming calls and regulatory demands, keeping plates spinning must feel easy in comparison.

The success of their role is a function of their ability to keep three main groups happy: their management, the company’s customers and their agent teams. The latter is essential to minimise staff (and therefore extensive knowledge) attrition and clearly not doing this has an impact on customer satisfaction and cost, leading to extreme dissatisfaction in the corridors of head office.

Competition for good agents is keen and this is especially true for call centre outsourcers for whom their agents are essentially their product. Call centres tend to be pretty densely packed in specific areas of the country they happen to be in. Whether in Manila, Bangalore or Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, agents have options and the good ones are constantly lured by the competition.

So balancing quality, customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction is an imperative and one that doesn’t lend itself to subjectivity. Coaching agents on a sample of ‘monitored call recordings’ alone is not sufficient. Agents will tend, to a greater or lesser extent, to resist or even argue with the views of their team leaders. Getting the exact same feedback from real customers however lands very differently with agents. It removes any ‘you’re out to get me’ defensive reactions. This is especially so when it comes in high volumes.

Fizzback’s clients consistently witness this transformation. With agents typically getting between 25 and 250 highly descriptive pieces of customer feedback each month, agents have irrefutable evidence of their opportunities to improve, which if they capitalise on, can lead to significant performance improvements. This sense of empowerment leads to dramatic improvements in morale and employee engagement, which translates to good customer interactions, happy customers and ultimately, happy executives in head office. 

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