Do Customers or Agents Come First? At Some Contact Centers the Answer May Surprise You

“The Customer Comes First.”

You’ll see those words next to the cash registers at mom-and-pop grocery stores, and on the desks of Fortune 500 CEOs.

But your customers only receive a great experience if employees devote the time and effort to provide one. At the contact center, that responsibility falls primarily on your agents. Perhaps, by putting your agents first, you’ll achieve your customer service goals as well.

That’s the theory put forth by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients,” he has said.

But what is the best way to put that strategy into practice? A better way to ask that question might be, “What can you do to make your agents feel more valued?

How about a more pleasant working space? A contact center that is bright and clean and inviting provides motivation by simply being a more comfortable place to work.

Do you schedule activities and team-building sessions that can improve agent morale?

Do your agents feel comfortable offering ideas on how to improve service? They should – and you should respect these ideas and reward those that are implemented. In addition to open communication, managers should also nurture, encourage and support their agents to encourage loyalty and consistent job performance.

Trust is another critical factor. While coaching and training should be a regular part of the agent experience, your team members should also be able to use call recording software to review their own performances and make changes as needed. They will also appreciate the trust you show in them by allowing them to correct their own mistakes.

And yes, mistakes will still happen. But if you are putting agents first, approach these situations not as a “One more time and you’re out of here” moment. Take the necessary steps to minimize such incidents, but insults and threats are not going to result in better performance or motivated employees.

Finally, give your agents the technology that makes their jobs easier. Call recording software and quality assurance solutions not only benefit managers, but agents as well.

Workforce Management (WFM) can play a prominent role in engendering employee satisfaction in a number of ways:

  • Skill-based scheduling allows managers to better match agents with the types of calls they are most comfortable and experienced in handling.  This boosts both employee confidence and customer service.
  • Flexible schedules are more easily managed with WFM, so agents can balance obligations in their personal lives with work responsibilities.
  • Online collaboration between agents and supervisors makes it easier for agents to bid for shifts, and to handle changes as needed.
  • Exception calendars keep all call center personnel informed and prepared for issues.

All of these capabilities help contact centers to put agents first. That makes for happier agents  – and happier customers.

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