Challenge Solved! - An Advice Column For Contact Center Managers
Submitted by Ulysses Learning
June 1, 2020
An Advice Column for Contact Center Managers
At Ulysses Learning, we’ve had a slew of calls from clients and new acquaintances asking us the question, “Given the growing number of work-from-home representatives, how can we keep at-home agents, positive, motivated, and engaged?” We responded with a series of different tips, seven of which Dina Vance, Ulysses Learning’s Senior Vice President, describes in this edition of Challenge Solved. For all 14 tips, connect with us on LinkedIn (@Ulysses Learning).
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Q: How can we keep our growing number of at-home agents, positive, motivated, and engaged?
Our featured expert for this month’s question is:
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations
A: I have plenty of tips to share to help get you through these Coronavirus days and beyond. But first, I want you to remember a key point: You will be successful in keeping your remote reps engaged if you treat them just like you would if they were all together. You just may need to tweak some of your tactics a wee bit. You got this!
Have a mini video conference call or chat first thing in the morning. During this time of social distancing, take advantage of free or low-cost technology platforms like Zoom, Skype, GoToMeetings, Lifesize, Google Hangouts, and more. Your reps crave contact with other humans—it’s exactly what makes them great at their jobs! A couple tips: keep the video calls or chats quick (no more than 15 minutes). Be positive, share a motivational quote or story, highlight the priorities for the day, and tell reps where to go if they need detailed information on a topic. At a minimum, have one meeting to kick off the week and one to end it, and meet more frequently if timely info needs to be shared. Just keep it focused and light. Set up additional meetings for more complex topics.
Release perfection; think “FAIL.”. For many of your newly minted remote reps and supervisors you can expect a period of adjustment complete with dogs barking during calls, children making playful (and not so playful) background noises, and more. Embrace these small transitions and remember this acronym—FAIL—First Attempt in Learning! Rest assured your reps’ at-home processes will improve.
“Freshen up” your recognition programs. Recognize great service through online recognition and quick shout outs during your mini conference calls and chats. One client of ours is sending reps virtual coupons for “above and beyond service” that can be cashed in for free lunches (delivered at home via DoorDash), extra walk/refresher breaks, or coffee “to go” at their local Starbucks. Find ways to keep your existing recognition programs relevant to remote reps. For example, if you had a big recognition board in your contact center, you’ll need to re-create that board online.
Remember to have fun. One of the challenges of remote work is that it can be very task-oriented and routinized. While many of your reps will transition well to working remotely, for some it can be difficult…and even a little sad. They may miss the camaraderie of their colleagues. Consider celebrating birthdays, having baby-picture or cutest pet contests, and set up private chat rooms or social media groups where people can share personal information and fun, lighthearted humor.
You’ve got mail? Another fun way to surprise your agents is to mail them a good old-fashioned, personalized thank you note with a cool or inspirational stamp on the envelop. A hand-written thank you for their excellent work and support will get their attention and will probably be displayed on their refrigerator for all to see for weeks to come.
Coach, coach, coach…creatively and consistently. At-home agents need plenty of formal and informal coaching. Many crave feedback and may become anxious if they can’t poke their heads in to say “hello” to their supervisor from time to time. Keep your formal, one-on-one coaching programs going and consider adding simple, quick coaching practices like coaching via text, chat, or phone. And a weekly, or bi-weekly scheduled, five-minute check-in call with each rep can go a long way, keeping reps feeling cared for and giving them opportunities to share feedback. BONUS OFFER: Find out exactly what your reps need to stay productive and engaged during this and any business disruption, request more info about our Agent Coaching Satisfaction Survey and Report.
Reinforce coaching with emotional “deposits.” Make a deposit in your reps’ emotional bank by sending a quick and simple email right after their coaching session. You want to focus on one highlight of their call. The extra reinforcement will help encourage reps who may be feeling stressed out or insecure as they adjust to working remotely.
I’ll have seven more tips for you in our next newsletter. (And if you can’t wait, check out our LinkedIn page @Ulysses Learning.) In the meantime, let’s keep the conversation going. You and your reps matter to all of us at Ulysses Learning. If we can provide additional insights on any topics, just let us know!
More on this month’s featured expert…
Senior Vice President, Managing Director of North American Operations
In her current capacity with Ulysses Learning, Dina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and also serves as the chief client relationship executive, working with Fortune 100 clients and other progressive organizations to redefine the way customers are cared for. Under her leadership, Ulysses has become well known for its work in transforming customer service, sales and coaching cultures through the development of emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently and expertly applied on every call. The company has special expertise in serving the insurance, utilities and financial services industries.
Before joining Ulysses in 1999, Dina was responsible for the ground-level startup of two contact centers which led to her accepting a role as call center lead consultant and division manager for an international bank training organization.
Dina can be reached on LinkedIn or at email@example.com; for more details on Ulysses Learning visit www.ulysseslearning.com.
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Managers looking for answers to their toughest contact center challenges are encouraged to Email their challenges to: ChallengeSolved@ulysseslearning.com
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Challenge Solved! is sponsored by:
UlyssesLearning was founded in 1995 as a joint venture with Northwestern University’s Learning Sciences department and continues to bring clients new, innovative enhancements to its industry-leading training. Contact centers achieve profound business results, ahead of schedule, with Ulysses Learnings’ artful blend of patented simulation-based e-learning, facilitated exercises, coaching, and tools, that redefine the way customers are cared for and transform customer service, sales, and coaching cultures. Ulysses has the only training proven to build emotional intelligence or “EQ” so that Judgment@WorkTM can be confidently, consistently, and expertly applied on every call.
Ulysses Learning is a multi-year recipient of the Gold Stevie© Award for best contact center customer service training.
Begin your contact center transformation now. Phone 800-662-4066 or visit www.ulysseslearning.com to get started.