Being a call center agent isn’t an easy job.
They have to deal with customers day in and day out — often unhappy, angry, or dissatisfied ones. Additionally, the pressure of meeting targets can leave some feeling quite stressed.
So how do you improve call center agent motivation?
In this article, we’ll give you 14 no-nonsense call center agent motivation tips to help you boost both remote and in-office employee engagement, leading to increased overall profitability.
Let’s dive right in.
14 best practices for call center agent motivation
Most call centers today aim to connect customers with agents in ways that improve customer satisfaction, build and retain relationships, as well as improve brand value.
But you can’t achieve this if your call center agents are unmotivated or dissatisfied.
So how do you motivate your employees or customer service team?
To answer this question, we first need to understand how motivation works.
Motivation is a process that initiates, guides, and maintains target-oriented behavior. Various extrinsic and intrinsic factors drive it.
Extrinsic motivation, like a salary raise, promotion, reward, etc., is definitely a great incentive to improve agent performance and boost morale.
However, focusing only on extrinsic motivators may not be enough for agent engagement and empowerment. In fact, they may lose their incentive to use their creativity and other attributes for problem-solving.
That’s where intrinsic motivation comes in.
Gaining a sense of achievement, helping people, doing everything to solve an issue, etc., are primarily based on the core values and principles of an agent. As a result, they may serve as better motivators for boosting the performance of your customer service agents.
Each individual has different motivators, but creating a work environment that enables them to find their own motivators benefits your call center.
Now, let’s now see how to effectively motivate call center agents to increase employee engagement and enhance customer experience:
1. Lead by example
To motivate your call center or customer service team, you, as their team leader, need to be motivated yourself.
When you’re motivated and optimistic, you convey strength, inspire an employee to build their skills, and help them give their best shot at everything. Additionally, if you want the customer service team to go all out while doing their work, you need to do the same while motivating them. Always acknowledge their hard work, encourage them, provide them with positive affirmations, tell them how proud you are of their achievements, and push them to success.
At the same time, you also need to be realistic.
You shouldn’t be so focused on success that you miss the facts if something really isn’t working out. You need to optimistically help your call center team come up with other strategies to reach their goals.
These are best practices that can help a call center or contact center reduce employee turnover, enhance agent performance — and in turn, boost:
- Customer satisfaction.
- Customer retention.
- Customer experience.
2. Build a positive call center environment
The work environment plays a significant role in influencing employee morale.
A clean, clutter-free workspace with vibrant interiors, comfortable chairs, a separate lounge area, etc., is highly conducive to good call center employee performance. You can also encourage your employees to personalize and decorate their workstations to feel more connected to the workplace.
If your call center is virtual or remote, you can create a positive work environment by having open communication, allowing employees to interact for non-work activities, etc.
At the end of the day, a fun and happy work atmosphere is essential to motivate call center agents to do their best every day.
- Nurture a positive attitude in the workplace.
- Increase team bonding.
- Help people deal with or recover from stressful work situations.
Lastly, it may not seem significant, but how your agents dress can also impact the overall work environment, even if it’s virtual.
Smart, formal work clothes put the team in a professional mindset, boosting call center agent motivation and confidence.
3. Break the monotony
One of the causes of lack of call center agent motivation and reduced productivity in the workspace can be the monotony of doing the same thing every day.
To avoid this situation in the call center, you can keep varying the scripts, modify the office layout, and rotate shifts. These are basically small things that will help break the monotony.
You can also increase agent motivation by conducting weekly or monthly contests with prizes, team lunches, potlucks, fun dress-up days, and anything else to cheer them up.
4. Foster open communication
Encouraging open communication between call center agents, team leaders, and other departments is essential. It can help agents clearly understand their role in the organization and your expectations from them.
When they understand the big picture and their part in the company’s success, they’ll be more accepting of your decisions.
Open communication can also help resolve conflicts between teams, build better call center agent relationships, and reduce employee turnover.
And to have good, meaningful communication, you must convey important messages in person or over a video call. This is especially important for remote agents because an email, text, or even phone call may not be enough for agent motivation and inspiration.
5. Empower your call center agents with the right tools
Call center work involves tons of data — customer information, company or product information, customer journey, etc. But jumping between multiple tabs, screens, apps, etc., may become too much of a hassle for the agents, reducing call center agent motivation.
You should make your employee’s work easier by providing them with the right tools to streamline their workflows and increase productivity.
Cloud-based call center software and automation can significantly reduce work time and enhance employee productivity.
But how do you quantify this increase in productivity?
You can measure it using Time Doctor — a powerful employee performance and productivity tool.
Some other call center software that can dramatically simplify your agents’ work include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
- Automatic Call Distribution (ACD).
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
- Predictive dialer.
- Team messaging software.
- Reporting and analytics software.
- Unified agent desktop.
- Knowledge base.
- Post-contact customer service survey, etc.
Here’s a related post about the essential call center tools and trends you need.
6. Create SMART goals
Many businesses often set goals and metrics that are either too generic or completely unrealistic. In either of these situations, agents will only feel confused or discouraged.
Setting an achievable and clear goal is important to call center motivation. You can do that by making it a SMART goal:
- S: Specific
- M: Measurable
- A: Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Time-bound
When you set a realistic and achievable goal, you may not need to put much effort into employee motivation. It’ll help your agents easily meet each goal and any other Key Performance Indicator (KPI) you set for them.
Clear, attainable goals can help your agents visualize the path needed to achieve them and develop their own motivators to see them through.
7. Assign the right tasks to the right agents
Assigning tasks that match your agent’s values or skills can significantly enhance their morale and motivate them to do their best.
For example, you may assign difficult product inquiry calls to experienced agents who thoroughly know your products and services. It’ll prevent new agents from stressing about not providing the appropriate information.
This will, in turn, ensure that the customer quickly gets what they’re looking for resulting in motivated employees who are satisfied doing a job they’re good at!
Job satisfaction can further boost performance and result in a motivated agent ready to take on more responsibility.
8. Prevent agent burnout
You need to take care of every call center rep or agent so that they can give their best while dealing with your customers.
An important part of the care process is to try not to overburden them with work and push them to experience burnout. Handling angry customers and difficult phone call sessions, completing lengthy after-call tasks, etc., can contribute to burnout and stress.
To prevent this, you can:
- Use call center software to automate certain tasks
- Provide after-call support to agents for difficult calls
- Allow them to vent out if needed.
Employee wellness programs like on-site fitness centers, free healthy snacks, yoga classes, etc., can foster a healthy call center culture. As a part of that plan, you should encourage agents to take regular breaks to get some personal time and calm themselves.
The easiest way to achieve this is with Time Doctor’s work-life balance widget. This widget allows managers and administrators to quickly spot call center employees at the highest risk for burnout because of poor work-life balance.
Here’s a related post with actionable insights to avoid burnout.
9. Avoid micromanaging call center agents
The call center culture of micromanagement still prevails. We’ve all heard of the “over-the-shoulder manager,” a staple of many call center operations.
Addressing productivity or quality assurance concerns immediately may have advantages, but it also creates a stressful environment, where agents may feel pressure and fear.
The stress of these micromanaged organizations could negatively impact call center employees instead of boosting motivation. You may even fail to recognize the hidden costs incurred as a result.
To avoid micromanaging, you can:
- Make employees accountable to each other.
- Clarify expectations from employees.
- Use project management and time tracking software.
This should also promote a call center culture that’s productive and positive.
10. Provide opportunities for growth
Even if you have a small call center team, you should ensure that your employees have good opportunities to grow. Investing in your agents’ growth is another employee motivation practice.
For this, you should encourage them to take on added responsibilities, handle challenging tasks, or even undertake regular agent training.
Providing such opportunities results in engaged and motivated employees more likely to stay loyal to your company. At the same time, you’ll boost employee engagement which can drastically increase their job satisfaction, resulting in employee retention.
11. Offer rewards and incentives
Employees are the biggest asset of your call center. Regularly displaying your appreciation and valuing their contributions to your company’s success can go a long way in motivating agents.
Implementing a gamification system for incentives and rewards can keep your call center team engaged, happy, and productive — enhancing employee satisfaction.
A reward can be in the form of:
- Team lunches.
- Paid Time Off (PTO).
- Work-from-home for in-office team members.
- Gift vouchers, etc.
Celebrating birthdays, holidays, and festivals also serves as an incentive for their hard work all throughout the year.
Also, offering rewards that allow the team member to spend more time with their families can increase their motivation to work in your organization. Some of these incentives and rewards may include a family vacation, movie tickets for the entire family, and more.
You can even publicly recognize and reward employee successes by acknowledging their achievements in weekly meetings, on your social media pages like LinkedIn, etc.
Such gestures can create a positive work environment where every team member feels trusted, respected, and appreciated.
12. Encourage feedback
Encouraging employees to provide feedback is a key aspect of call center motivation and management.
As a call center manager, you must also urge each call center or contact center agent to provide honest feedback about you. They can give quality assurance insights about how you can motivate them better, things they would like you to do differently, etc.
You can also ask them for their opinions about the overall working of your call center or contact center – customer service, products, workflows, company culture, and more.
Since they’re at the front and center of the action, you can also get valuable insights from them regarding the most common customer interaction issues, customer complaints, customer support ideas, etc.
Ensure that you act on their suggestions, if appropriate. This will help them see that they can influence decision-making at work and motivate them to put in their best efforts for the team and company.
13. Stop considering call volume as a measurement of success
A call center agent must often meet a phone call volume target within a designated period, putting them under tremendous pressure. This reduces their breaks and makes them feel that call volume is more important than assisting customers.
Your clear goal should be to focus on your customers’ needs to achieve a high level of effectiveness and keep employees motivated.
This can only work if every contact center agent has the time and capacity to assist their customers properly. To make this happen, a call center manager or team leader needs to empower employees who can efficiently resolve issues while satisfying customers.
Here are some other measures of call center success:
- Call center employee retention
- First contact resolution
- Quality of customer interaction.
- Customer loyalty
- Customer experience
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
14. Conduct team-building activities
Creating an employee-friendly work environment involves building and maintaining relationships.
Call center team lunches, outings, etc., are a great way to foster healthy employee relationships.
Team-building games can further strengthen the bonds for teamwork and add a fun break to an otherwise monotonous workday. There can also be an icebreaker while onboarding a new hire.
Non-task activities like a scavenger hunt, games like truth and lies, Pictionary, etc., are ideal examples of stress-busting and creating healthy competition.
They also serve as a great medium to help a team member learn from and get inspired by the other person’s skills and creativity.
Lastly, a team huddle at the start of each workday or week can effectively build team spirit and energize your entire call center team.
We’ve covered a few ideas to help you boost call center employee morale. These tips work irrespective of whether you run an inbound call center, outbound call center, or even an omnichannel contact center.
However, each team is different and has different needs. You can modify these tips accordingly or get inspired to find your own ways to motivate call center agents.
Either way, the important thing is to bring about some change in your call center to improve the overall work environment – improving employee motivation and agent engagement.
And the best place to start is by investing in quality time and employee monitoring software like Time Doctor.
Use it to track time, monitor productivity, and manage workload. So sign up for Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial to improve call center motivation across the board!