By Peg Ayers
Your employees have stuck with you through the tough times these last couple of years. Or they’ve joined you DURING these tough times, trusting you’ll provide a supportive atmosphere where they can grow and develop. Turnover has always been a contact center concern, and it’s more of a threat than ever today. It costs thousands of dollars for each new hire, and your service suffers every time you lose an experienced employee and must train a new one. The competition for employees is fierce. There are easier jobs your people could go to for the same money or more, where schedules aren’t so rigid, and expectations aren’t so high. You can’t afford to take your employees for granted if you want to supervise them. They need to know you’re happy they’re on your team. They need to know they matter to you. So, tell them. Show them. It doesn’t take a fortune to show appreciation. It costs you nothing to share a compliment or a thank you. Send a handwritten card of appreciation. Thank them in front of their team for going beyond expectations. Listen for kudos from customers and share them in a public way. Resolve to show appreciation to team members every day.
Your people are on the frontlines; they hear directly from your customers. You could pay for focus groups and surveys to ask your customers for their opinions…or you could just ask your staff. “What’s one thing our customers wish we would do differently? What gets in their way? What frustrates them?” A few hours of listening sessions with the frontline agents could uncover enough opportunities to keep your product and information technology people busy for months. While you’re at it, ask the agents what THEY would like to see different. What gets in their way? What wastes their time? One of our favorite questions is, “If you had a magic wand, and time and money were not an issue, what are the first three things you would change?” Encourage supervisors and managers to regularly ask their team the Start/Stop/Continue questions: “What would you like me to start doing? What would you like me to stop doing? What would you like me to continue doing?” The key to all of this is action. You can’t ask a bunch of questions, gather ideas and suggestions, then disappear. You need to provide regular follow-up on progress and let people know what’s being implemented. It’s just as important to tell them what’s NOT being implemented and not supervised and the reasons why. If they see action and hear follow-ups, they’ll keep making suggestions and you’ll always have a ready supply of ideas to implement.
Help your staff see their future with you. Show them their career path and help them travel it. Career path and growth should be part of supervisor/agent one-on-ones at least once a month. Where do they see themselves next year? What help do they need to get there? What information do they need to decide their direction? Employees are loyal to employers who want the best for them and are willing to help them achieve it.
People are much more likely to stay in a job where they’re comfortable. And they appreciate it when you invest in them and help them develop their skills. It starts with a crisp, welcoming onboarding process, progresses through an effective new-hire training program geared to adult learning, and culminates in regularly scheduled training for all employees throughout the year, allowing them to keep up their current skills and learn new ones.
So many contact center supervisors are promoted because they are good frontline agents and immediately find themselves over their heads. People are not born knowing how to lead. These skills need to be developed. Throwing good frontline agents into supervisory positions without training is just begging for high employee attrition, low morale, and Human Resources nightmares. Supervisors need “new position” training just like agents need “new hire” training. They need to know how to supervise people who have been their friends, how to manage without micro-managing, how to be part of the leadership team, and so much more.
You need to be connected to the frontline agents to know how well they’re being supervised. Be sure you’re tuned in, so you know which supervisors are great and which need help in achieving greatness. A great supervisor creates a bond with each person on their team. They know them, they appreciate them, and they actively listen to them. They draw out their ideas and suggestions. They understand how each one is motivated. A supervisor like this can keep people from even thinking about going elsewhere. They create loyalty to themselves and the organization. We’ve seen agents stay with a company even though they could have gone across the street for an easier, better paying position, all because of their loyalty to their supervisor.
Consider these New Year’s Resolutions for your Contact Center, to create a great 2022:
Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.
(Jan 7, 2022)