For customer service team leaders, keeping agents motivated, engaged and enthusiastic is a challenge — but it’s not impossible.
The important thing is understanding your team as a unit and as individuals. What are their personal goals? What does each member bring to the group and the call center overall? How do they communicate with customers and where can they improve?
A team leader should be able to answer these questions, but if you can’t, there are ways to learn. Quality assurance provides a deeper insight into your agents’ productivity, personality traits, customer-service skills and more. And the better customer service team leaders know the agents they oversee, the better they’ll be able to manage them.
Balance and motivation are critical elements of effective team leadership: once you start paying closer attention to both, your customers can expect a higher level of service. Let’s explore how customer service team leaders can drive agents to better performance and stronger results.
Motivation and Duty: A Delicate Balance
Research shows employee engagement is rising across the U.S., though with just 16 percent ‘actively engaged’ there’s still some way to go.
For some workers, earning money and taking pride in a job well done is all the motivation they need. They know it’s their duty to show up to work on time, hit targets and provide customers with the best experience they can. They’ll give it their all.
For others, though, staying motivated is much harder, and there may be a number of reasons behind this, such as:
- feeling unappreciated
- overbearing bosses
- poor pay
- too much work to handle
- unpleasant coworkers
There may be others, but these five reasons are enough to leave customer service agents unmotivated to work at their best. Anyone struggling with any of the above factors may be unable to fulfill even their most basic duties.
Team leaders have to recognize when agents are unmotivated, and analyzing data gathered through quality assurance makes this easier. You’ll notice differences between unengaged and engaged employees’ productivity, commitment to good customer service and interaction with colleagues.
Take action to motivate agents to do more than they’re duty-bound to: embrace team recognition and try to inspire them to help customers because they genuinely want to, not just because their contract tells them too.
Using cutting-edge QA software like Playvox makes this simpler, through its community-building features and Karma points. Employees can communicate quickly and easily through their social community wall, share ideas, view announcements and keep track of each others’ achievements.
This helps them stay connected and bond, while giving them a way to encourage colleagues in an informal environment.
Furthermore, working well will earn agents Karma points as a record of their progress. Team leaders can assign recognition badges to acknowledge good results too, as a simple gesture of appreciation.
These are small things, but they help agents feel valued, respected and in healthy competition with one another. Over time, team leaders can use these community-focused features to boost their agents’ commitment to working hard and achieving goals. Staff retention should improve too, reducing turnover and the expense it incurs.
Rewarding Customer Service Agents the Right Way
We’ve already mentioned Karma points. These bring an element of gamification to your call center’s customer service: agents will accumulate points for good performance, just as they would in a video game.
But these don’t just sit on the employee’s profile to show off. Agents can actually exchange points at the Karma store to gain real rewards for their hard work.
The range of goods up for grabs varies based on your call center, your budget and your employees’ tastes. Team leaders should be responsible for gathering team recognition ideas from agents, to avoid managers offering options nobody actually wants.
There will have to be some price restrictions — obviously, agents can’t expect to earn a car or a VIP month-long vacation — but team leaders must make sure rewards are good enough to motivate their group to succeed.
As agents begin earning team recognition badges and points, and cash the latter in for rewards, they’ll start to connect positive emotions with working hard. Handling more interactions, getting through them faster, making customers feel special and resolving problems as soon as possible will all feel more rewarding.
After all, if you’re working harder than you have to but getting no acknowledgement, why bother doing so again?
Again, though, balance is a factor. Value amounts for rewards should be kept high enough so that earning them is an achievement. It will become less special if productive agents can claim multiple rewards in one day.
Welcoming Agent Input for Better Job Satisfaction
Customer service team leaders are an invaluable conduit between agents and managers. They work closely with agents and are seen as more trustworthy or approachable, rather than management personnel who could be somewhat intimidating.
Team leaders should take full advantage of this and invite their group to share their ideas. Ask them to think about:
- what challenges do they face when trying to help customers, and how can these be avoided?
- are the tools and software they have access to helpful, or do they actually make their job more difficult?
- what can management do to help them feel more valued and respected?
- do they have any ideas to boost motivation and morale?
- how could the workplace itself be altered to improve motivation (break rooms, a change of decor, flexibility of working location etc.)?
Team leaders should receive some great insights from agents if you just ask. Balancing
what’s desirable with what’s practical is crucial: certain requests will simply be unfeasible for one reason or another.
Make sure you cover these in detail when discussing feedback with your team. Let them know why specific suggestions can’t be used, but offer alternatives that might work instead. Again, it’s about making them feel respected, showing team recognition and working to boost staff retention, rather than just expecting employees to ‘get on with it’.
When employees are more motivated to do well, customers are sure to notice. And if they have a consistent run of good experiences, they’re likely to spend more with your brand than any other.
Team leaders play a critical part in keeping customer service agents motivated to do their best. They should focus on giving agents the encouragement they need, using the above tips to boost engagement and staff retention.
But a careful balance is important. Team leaders should be friendly with agents, yet retain some authority. They should ensure rewards are available, but not so easy to earn that employees take them for granted. And they should help agents see why showing commitment to great service is a contractual obligation as well as a chance to scoop prizes.
This all takes time. But it’s time well spent.
What techniques do you use to motivate employees and improve the customer experience? How do you empower team leaders to drive agents to greater heights and secure more staff retention? Share your thoughts below!