Contact Center team motivation (google translated from Portuguese)

I am not going to spend characters here explaining the need to have a motivated team in a Contact Center. I assume that whoever is reading this article already takes that data for granted. If you're still not convinced, order and read “The Customer Comes Second” by Hal Rosenbluth (Harper Business), “The Carrot Principle” by Adrian Gostick (Casa das Letras), or one of the many publications by Brad Cleveland, from International Customer Management Institute.

The purpose of this article is to present some practical aspects to take into account when motivating employees and teams in Contact Center.

Basic principles not to forget:
Motivation is individual. Each person is stimulated in a unique way by different things;
It is essential to believe in each person's abilities - the employee only exceeds expectations, if the leader believes in that ability and demonstrates it;
People don't just work for money - in a study by Sibson & Co., “Rewards of Work”, five dimensions of individual motivation are taken into account:
􏰀 Direct financial (base salary, incentives and bonuses);
􏰀 Indirect financial (benefits, recognition);
􏰀 Career (evolution, training and development, security, personal growth);
􏰀 Content of the work (variety / challenge, autonomy, responsibility, meaning);
􏰀 Affiliation (work environment, organizational culture and company reputation).

This text was published in three articles in the Call Center Magazine of
International Faculty for Executives and intends to give some suggestions for the
Motivation of Teams in Contact Center Environment.

Technologies Effects - Routing, CTI, IVR, Monitoring, reporting, among many other tools, have profound effects on Human Resources management that cannot be ignored;
The team does not just have front-office assistants / operators - the need for motivation does not apply only to those at the forefront of customer service - supervisors, coordinators, quality managers, trainers, IT technicians, back teams -office, among others, also need to be motivated to be more productive, creative and ... happy at work.

1. Integration
The first moments in any work context are fundamental. Even today, I remember, for example, the spaces where I had the first selection interviews for all the organizations where I worked. It is an image that I cannot dissociate from the image that I became of these Organizations.
􏰁 Recruitment and selection - you should be aware of skills such as customer orientation, team spirit, learning ability, flexibility, or stress management. The use of senior assistants and / or supervisors in defining the profile and selection can contribute to improving the match needs / resources, since they know the reality of the work of the Contact Center like no one else.
􏰁 Reception / integration - often, the entry of a collaborator takes place in an urgent context, without due monitoring. However, the first months are a unique moment that should be used to sell the Organization's Brand. Achieving a meeting with members of the Administration / Management, delivering a card with the mission and values ​​and giving constant feedback on the evolution of the employee are examples of good practices. Mentoring is a highly motivating tool for new employees and those who accompany them, and should be oriented towards Organization and Work.

2. Relationship between top management and assistants
This is the most important relationship in a Contact Center, whether for job satisfaction to be the highest, or for obtaining the desired results in the relationship with the Customer.
An excellent relationship, which goes beyond the strict scope of work, must be fostered - but never forced. The recruitment of Supervisors / Team Leaders is particularly critical here. He should have natural authority among his peers, ideally recruited from senior assistants. The selection criteria must be clearly communicated to the entire team.
The involvement of top management in the definition of processes, participation in extended meetings with other areas of the Organization, participation in seminars and events abroad, among others, allows for improving the Contact Center in the Company and fostering curiosity about others. “out-of-doors” realities.

3. Training
Training, if effective, allows employees to improve self-confidence, providing the tools necessary for their good performance:
Initial training must have a consistent plan to ensure security in communication with the Customer. If possible, senior assistants and supervisors should be involved in the design of the program.
Continuous and specific training should be provided by certified trainers, related to the levels of competences, and with methodologies, whenever possible, alternatives - motivational actions, guest speakers, billboards, side by side, etc.
The training of supervisors is essential, especially in the components of Coaching, Mentoring, Conflict Management, Guidance, social support, and relationship with the team in general.

4. Work environment
The work environment of a Contact Center has a tendency to be “stressful”, with the orientation for call times and reduction of queues, but also with the orientation for compliance with the defined procedures, the permanent update, the management of the call with the Client, ... Nothing prevents, however, that this is also a fun environment, lived with Humor and with a group spirit. Some ideas:
􏰁 Stimulate the “out of doors” group spirit - dinners, weekend getaways, outdoors ...
􏰁 Promote private interest groups (there are free tools on the web that allow you to do it for free) - Thermomix or bread machine fanatics, recent parents, surfers, ... These groups must be managed by themselves.
􏰁 Encourage playful activities, preferably organized by the team - contests, team sports, dance lessons, ...
􏰁 Improve stress management mechanisms for assistants themselves, making them learn to deal with stress.
􏰁 Make room for healthy conflict management - people should be able to release their feelings in a controlled environment
􏰁 Promote and support Social Responsibility / Volunteering projects. In addition to fostering group spirit, they promote a sense of belonging, give visibility and also contribute to a better World.
􏰁 Regularly measure team satisfaction (25% of the assessment of all managers, including the CEO of AMERICAN EXPRESS is measured by the degree of employee satisfaction).

5. Empathy / Communication
Communication with the team and empathy are the main mark in the image that the team forms of its Leader. Communication must convey clear values, to avoid disorientation, and information must circulate fluidly. It is fundamental:
􏰁 Respect the balance between personal and professional life. Giving some leeway in time management, for example, allows your employees to manage their personal needs with their work in a healthier way.
􏰁 Use the name, greet in person, be gentle. Nobody likes an authoritarian and intimidating boss. Keep your office door open.
􏰁 Make time available for personal matters of each person - creates vehicles for open communication. Don't discriminate!

6. Recognition
It is absolutely essential to create a Culture of Recognition:
􏰁 Make regular thank-you notes, official celebration events, informal moments of thanks, symbolic prizes, the sharing of good practices, and the dissemination of customer compliments.
􏰁 Always praise more than you criticize. After all, everyone's day-to-day has more successes than failures.
􏰁 Praise should be given in a sincere and specific way, and as early as possible, preferably by the direct boss and in a public way. The criticism is made in private.
􏰁 Take advantage of the right moments for recognition - promotions should be made public, as an example to follow, explaining the reasons.
Administração The Administration / Management must also be aware of the team's achievements. Ideally, be able to call on your bosses and the Administration in the recognition policy.

7. Involvement
The subservience of some and the arrogance of others, as well as the rigid structures of many organizations, are in accordance with an authoritarian Mediterranean power relations model, which still affect our way of being today.
This is an aspect in which our Latin Culture, reinforced by decades of Dictatorship, finds it difficult to follow some good Anglo-Saxon practices. For this very reason, this may be one of the suggestions that I leave here more challenging, but that is worth overcoming:
􏰁 Create suggestion boxes, whose ideas are discussed and with mandatory feed-back, in order to let each employee know that their ideas are taken into account. Bring the team's ideas to discussion with the Management / Administration.
􏰁 Knowing how to ask for an opinion - decision making improves by listening to your team, especially in relation to situations in which you will be the most affected.
􏰁 Senior assistants are the ones who best know how to serve a client well and what it takes to be a good assistant - they must therefore play an important role in monitoring the youngest onjob, but they can also be involved (why not?) In recruiting , definition of profiles, initial training.
􏰁 Incentive Systems or the Management of Leisure practices are decisive factors in the motivation and performance of the team, so their design can involve the whole team.
􏰁 Involvement also implies Administration / Management, especially at critical moments - a turnaround, overcoming a crisis, celebrating an important objective that has been achieved.
􏰁 This involvement cannot discriminate against internal or Outsourcing teams. 8. Objectives / Monitoring
The definition and communication of Objectives is already a common data in contact-center. Equally important is its Monitoring.
􏰁 The Objectives must be framed in the Organization's strategy and in the existing Performance Evaluation System. These must be clear, rigorous, not conflicting, ambitious but attainable, and elaborated whenever possible with the participation of all those involved.
􏰁 Objectives that do not depend directly on the stakeholders should be avoided, to avoid demoralization and data manipulation. The review of processes must accompany the review of objectives.
􏰁 Monitoring should focus on all processes and all channels, combining different formats - from recording interactions and navigation, to simple passage in the corridor, side-by-side, role play training, mystery shopper, ivr / questionnaires outbound, etc.
􏰁 The feed-back on the monitoring should be conducted in a constructive manner and as soon as possible after the audit has been carried out.
􏰁 There is no point in creating the perfect Monitoring System if you do not have the resources and tools to achieve it - be realistic!

9. Compensation and Incentives
In Portugal, as is well known, remunerations in the Contact Center are usually not very attractive. However, even with a tight budget, it is possible to implement significant improvements.
Base Basic compensation must be fair and balanced - the Organization's face must be properly remunerated. This remuneration must be appropriate to the
Organization, geographic location and the profile of the post. It is fundamental to the employee's feeling of security.
􏰁 In the definition of remuneration, it is essential to account for the turnover costs associated with lower remuneration - costs of recruitment, training, loss of quality, potential dissatisfaction of Customers.
􏰁 Clearly defined in the long term, to avoid manipulation and breach of trust, recognized by the Organization.
􏰁 Incentives must be exceptional, otherwise they will be considered remuneration and lose the stimulus effect. They must be personalized and combine individual and collective objectives, monetary and non-monetary incentives.
􏰁 It is necessary to maintain a control and review system, ideally with the participation of those involved.
􏰁 Annual incentives should be avoided, for the accelerated pace of the CC.
􏰁 Some prizes may be obtained through sponsorship or with costs
very low. Some examples:
the points program for gifts
Humor contests
o Paid time off
o Cinema, ticket for football game, concerts
o Collaborators sent to the conference of their choice o Photos posted of the best
o Article in the newsletter or internal newspaper
o Massage chair placed in CC space
o Day in spa or Massages
o Dinner for two with baby sitting
o Weekends for two
o Certificates, plaques, trophies
o Special meal delivered at home
o Group food - picnic, barbecue
Preferred magazine subscription

10. Career / Skills Management
The CCs assume a diversity of competences that are difficult to match in other areas of the Organizations - management by skills, communication, customer orientation, HRM, training, statistics, IT, consumer behavior, forecasting, real time management, strategy, ... However , many of the best elements tend to come out:
a) Many assistants are not interested in a “traditional” career in the CC of vertical ascension
b) Many consider the CC to be a place of passage to other areas of the Company or a temporary job
c) Supervisory posts are limited and not all assistants have adequate characteristics

What to do?
􏰁 Assume competency management –enrich content and variety of work, increased autonomy and individual control.
􏰁 Create “Specialists” of product, process or new channels, with responsibility for training, monitoring / coaching / training - you will discover talents where you can’t imagine!
􏰁 New Agent type structure - Master Agent - Lead Agent - with different skills and remuneration
􏰁 Create the possibility of mobility, even if temporary, to other areas such as customer service or complaints management
􏰁 Create other roles in the CC - analyst, quality manager, workforce manager, web specialist, intranet manager, trainer, etc.
􏰁 Use each other's creativity - the graphic artist can make some posters, the writer an article for the newspaper, the speaker representing the CC in a lecture
􏰁 Relationship with Marketing / Product Management to launch products / services / campaigns.
􏰁 Organization framework - make them leave the head-set environment, through participation in interdepartmental events and special projects.
􏰁 Any promotions must be well-reasoned for the team, as they can demoralize an entire team if they are not clearly based on merit
􏰁 Avoid resorting to precarious contracts - regardless of their legality, their use should be limited to strictly necessary situations, under the risk of undermining the team's morale and incurring costs much higher than any gains made in salary costs.

11. Physical space / Ergonomics
The CC space reveals the Organization's consideration for its team. Although we may not always have Google’s facilities, there are improvements that can be achieved with relatively low investments:
Comfortable environment, with ergonomic equipment and healthy use of technology
Quiet break rooms to help manage stress, not just singing with food machines and waste bins
Vivid but not aggressive colors, modern overall look
Wiring on the floor, exposed ceiling, exterior views
Small notes of attention - Water and Coffee Machines, Rest Sofas, etc.

Image -

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