Sluggish Productivity as Winter Drags On? Try These Tips!

Is enthusiasm in your contact center waning as winter drags on? Has productivity dropped? If you’re not sure, here are some warning signs: irritability or frustration, unexplained work absences, coming in late/leaving early, decline in health and isolation. If you’re seeing any of this, rest assured that you can have a positive influence on the situation.

As the boss, you can reshape your staff’s work experience by communicating, motivating and leading. Let’s look at these three areas in-depth:

Communication: Meet with staff individually and as a group to give them a chance to express any concerns about their workload, goals, job difficulties and the workplace. Let them know you’re their advocate. Put the emphasis on the aspect of the job that excites your employee each time you speak to him or her, to keep a focus on the positive. As I’ve mentioned before, I hold quarterly forums with employees across all of our locations, which serves as the perfect opportunity to chat with Communicators.

Motivation: Hone in on what motivates your staff. Does praise in front of other staff work for some … pointing out challenges in private sessions for others? Conversely, give them some control: flex hours, casual attire and telecommuting, for example. This will let employees know that you care about their happiness and will help them address work-life balance.

Show appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Just bring in bagels for the team one morning or let everyone bring their laptops outside on a sunny, warm day. If you want to go grander, plan a staff outing or meal together.

Of course, money always talks. Is it time for a raise, or a bonus? Do you simply need to encourage a listless or irritated worker to take his or her vacation days more regularly? Compensation and relaxation can’t cure burnout, but may begin to ease symptoms.

Leadership: Managers who continuously improve their own skills will enable better team harmony and efficiency. Grow your abilities by attending workshops or conducting your own self-learning through books and training materials. You must also get your employees the training they need to succeed. Training is a motivator due to the value it places on the worker’s contributions. Good training topics for contact center staff include time and stress management, improving customer service, and specific computer programs.

In addition, review task assignments. Evaluate whether they are appropriate given the unique abilities of each employee. Be sure workloads are distributed evenly and that no one is bearing the brunt of the work. Offer understimulated staff greater challenges, and rotate tedious work so everyone can try something new from time to time.

You Don’t Need to Add Communicators to Improve Contact Center Service

Do your Communicators have the best tools and techniques to do their jobs well? If so, you’ve likely learned that less is more. Fewer Communicators with heightened skills are a greater contact center asset than more Communicators with fewer skills. That means it makes sense to develop a customer service approach that optimizes the customer experience as well as your business’s cost structure.

To reduce the need for more Communicators requires taking action on three fronts: Communicator utilization, productivity and call center volume.

Optimizing Communicator usage: Contact center managers can boost staff utilization by employing technology tools that ensure Communicators are scheduled effectively. Today’s workforce management software, which can capture all types of work, including interactions via phone, email and other communication channels, provides an alternative to inefficient paper- based staff planning. Communicators can be scheduled based on their skills—from fluency in two languages to training and experience with various technologies.

Increasing Communicator productivity: Instead of measuring productivity with the old standard average handle time (ADT) metric, contact center managers should track customer satisfaction across Communicator conversations. ADT can actually pressure Communicators to rush customers off a call instead of fully ensuring their satisfaction. Consequently, managers should not only guarantee that Communicators are following policy and procedure but make sure to monitor calls and coach staff on how well they controlled interactions and stayed on point.

Contact center managers should also track how often customers are placed on hold while Communicators look up information. This is usually an indication of training gaps or difficult searches on poorly designed information systems. To improve the customer experience, contact center decision makers must acknowledge and address Communicator challenges to quickly and effectively resolving customer issues.

Reducing call center volume: First-contact resolution (FCR) is the key metric to look at when trying to decrease the number of incoming call center inquiries. Your goal here is to ensure that more customer interactions are based on requests for more products or services—and not to resolve problems with existing ones.

To improve FCR success, proactively identify the root causes of customer problems and determine to prevent them. Do your due diligence to learn from customers whether your products are easy to use. Next, look into whether your processes and practices prevent Communicators from addressing problems on first contact. Check into whether it makes sense to give your Communicators more power to make decisions on customers’ behalves. Ensure they are properly trained for this sort of responsibility before moving ahead.

Keep in mind that less can be more when it comes to both the number of Communicators in your contact center and your success at providing optimal customer service.