Employee Empowerment in the Contact Center

We live in an age of empowerment and individualism. Environmentally-minded consumers have unprecedented views into the supply chain so they can make informed decisions about their purchases. Coca-Cola Freestyle fountains offer 165 customized drink options, featuring everything from Diet Raspberry Ginger Ale to classic Coke. Marketers deliver personalized advertising experiences gleaned from online behaviors and data.

This trend is not limited to consumer interactions. As we become accustomed to increasing individual empowerment in our personal lives, we’ve come to expect it in other areas too. Innovative employers, always on the lookout to attract and retain top talent, are now finding new ways to empower their teams by giving them information, choice and power over their own job experiences.

In doing so, they consistently provide superior customer interactions. A Harvard Business Review article  brings specific attention to the importance of empowering customer-facing employees in particular. “Front-line focused organizations…[use a] set of principles for moving well beyond the basics of customer service by putting power, resources and trust in the hands of front line personnel. By doing so, an elite group of companies has enabled their employees to more rapidly address customer problems, anticipate unarticulated needs and drive customer-facing innovation.”

In the contact center, technology has been a key enabler of employee empowerment. Agents and managers alike are benefitting from the ever-growing capacity to customize schedules, develop new on-the-job skills and view personal performance indicators. Each of these can increase an employee’s engagement and personal investment in his or her work.

Flexible scheduling

Whether coordinating an international 24-hour contact center or managing a mid-sized 9-to-5 operation, modern workforce management systems offer powerful scheduling solutions. Predictive technologies maximize productivity by balancing staffing rates during quiet periods and enlisting more team members in a holiday rush. They also respond to employees’ expressed preferences, skill sets and availability. It’s a win-win – contact centers optimize ROI, and employees feel empowered by their ability to work according to their own needs.

Knowledge is power

The ability to learn and grow empowers employees by giving them more authority over their performance. Engaging training programs ensure that new employees arrive at their workstations confident in their abilities, and experienced pros can improve performance and advance their skills through knowledge bases and educational opportunities. A feeling of control over one’s career provides a sense of independence and encourages a personal investment in performance.

The performance dashboard

One of the greatest developments of contact center technology has been the ability to provide staff and management with thorough and regular performance data. Traditional methods of sharing performance information with employees, such as regular coaching sessions and ranking boards, have proven their mettle over time. New developments, however, have put these methods on an entirely new plane: A custom dashboard can provide up-to-the-minute performance data, including rankings, badges and charts showing individual and group improvement. Knowing where they stand, and where they have been, gives employees more accountability and more power to improve and perform at their best.

Individual empowerment is a vital part of the success of modern business – and consumer-facing companies have already figured out how valuable it can be. Contact center leaders that place themselves ahead of the curve by helping their staffs reach greater information, choice and power over their own job experiences can uncover similar opportunities.

Pau​l Chance is a senior product marketing manager for
NICE Workforce Management (WFM), the leading software solution used by contact centers to digest the complexity of their organizations and produce precise forecasts and clear action. For more information, visit www.nice.com/engage/workforce-optimization/workforce-management.