Is your call center all about productivity and efficiency? If so, you'd be surprised to know that allowing a little bit of idle chitchat between agents in your call center could actually bring more good than harm.
Yes, that's right, letting agents socialize over the water cooler or coffee machine can be beneficial to your call center!
Of course, you're probably wondering how on earth could an agent talking about his cat to another coworker bring any value. Although it seems disconnected, it does have its benefits.
So before you send everyone back to their desk, take a look at the reasons why you should allow your call center agents to socialize more.
New hires adapt to their workplace faster
Perhaps you think that you've covered it all with the new hire during those intensive trainings to help them succeed at their new job. However, studies show that coworkers have far more influence on a new hire than management. It is believed that 65% of what employees learn come from their peers, while only 15% comes from managers.
Coworkers are more likely to share helpful tips and tricks that can make a new hire's transition easier. Plus, an unassigned mentor might present themselves up for the challenge of assisting the new hire, helping them integrate into the company culture and get them up to speed with their workload and responsibilities.
Think twice before blocking that annoying chat channel which seems to be wasting everyone's time. It could be indirectly benefiting the call center as new hires are able to get help and share a few laughs with their new colleagues, easing them into the team and making them feel part of the family just a little bit faster.
A friendlier workplace
What would you prefer: an office environment where everyone comes just to work without paying much attention to their coworkers or an environment where agents build relationships beyond customer service?
I would assume you've chosen the latter, and for the right reason. The majority of our day is spent working, followed by sleeping and the rest is divided amongst family, friends, hobbies and other things.
As such a large part of our day-to-day is spent at the office with coworkers, shouldn't it be a priority to be happy? As lame as it sounds, indulging in small talk clears the mind, lightens the mood and helps agents empathize and help each other when in need. That sounds so nice!
After all, we are social creatures and the modern workplace is our home away from home.
Increase in productivity
You can set KPI's, limit breaks, and put in place a reward scheme to increase productivity, but did you know that office gossip could help as well?
When people talk, more than words are being exchanged. Agents can see their coworkers reactions to certain situations and unconsciously pick up on subtle body language, which lets them know how to confront and tackle certain tasks and situations in the office. This wealth of information can give them great insight and help them be more productive within the call center.
Imagine John, the new guy asking Julie how she gathered the guts to ask for a raise. As Julie explains the situation, she casually and cooly states her reasons why she thought she deserved it and goes on to explain how management reacted.
Her reaction lets John know that management is open to negotiating given the right circumstances, and that John has the opportunity to grow in the future.
Such information could not have been picked up any other way other than through socializing. John would been left in the dark in regards to how to approach management.
So next time you see an agent performing better than usual, it might be thanks to the recent coaching they did, or it could also be their overperforming coworker who they always spend their time with. You decide...
It's not uncommon for call centers to have a high overturn. However, socializing can help avoid this.
By socializing, agents not only get to work in a friendlier environment, but they are automatically more aligned with the company's culture. When employees understand and share the same values as those of their company, they are more likely to be successful at their job.
As a result of this success, coworkers and managers give praise, generating a sense of pride and belonging in the agent, thus making them more likely to stay.
We are always stronger as a group, and collaborating makes us more productive. When coworkers get to know each other on a more personal level, the communication barriers disappear and collaboration becomes easier. Agents are more likely to help each other out, give each other advice, and stand up for each other when they connect. All of which contributes to a more productive environment.
Socializing is a crucial aspect of the workplace. So, next time you see office gossip in the making, let it happen. If you want to get the ball rolling in your call center, you can set the tone for employees and agents to socialize. Next time a new hire comes in, present them to your department. Hold meetings, whether they be formal events such as orientations and team buildings or informal such as lunches and after-hour drinks. Whatever you decide to do to help your staff bond, I'm sure your call center will quickly reap the rewards.