Guest post by Morris Pentel
As we all see reductions to restrictions imposed during the Covid 19 Crisis in the UK things are changing dramatically. After nearly 18 months, now we can go out, see friends, eat out, see a movie, and of course go back into our offices to work for the first time.
Over the last year I have had to redesign work and customer experiences for organisations to build new emotional connections and purpose within contact centre teams that were facing a new remote work life they hadn’t experienced before. It required rethinking the daily experience of colleagues.
With hybrid working increasingly seen as the model for many businesses, the work experience will therefore need to change again. That means you need to take stock of how your operation works and what you can do to design improvements in the daily routine of your teams. Here are just a few tips you might want to think about to improve performance in your customer service team:
Think of the contact centre employee as a customer and understand their experience. Build a simple “Employee” Journey Map highlighting the interesting parts, the boring parts, the team stuff and of course the fun.
The daily clock should provide a routine that team members look forward to – don’t just allow it to happen – design it. Planning the structure of the day can give agents a sense of order and purpose but so much more. Look at that routine and improve it.
Every role has its boring tasks that need to be done but you can reframe the employee’s experience. Admin is a great example. Stressing the importance of getting it right is not as effective as reframing admin as part of the game. There are simple rules of gamification you can apply. Most accurate reports, most delivered in the shortest time, least number of spelling mistakes and other accuracy issues should be managed within the context of “Autonomy Mastery and Purpose” (Daniel Pink). Everyone, from agents to supervisors, should feel that doing their admin well is a vital contribution to the overall welfare of the whole team and the organisation.
I have read a lot of complaints about video meetings. But here is the truth – most meetings were bad before the pandemic. All that has changed is that the age of the video conference has exposed how badly designed meetings are generally. As someone who has been going to bad meetings since the 1970’s and designing more effective ones since the 1980’s – trust me on this.
We now have better tools than at any time in my working lifetime and they continue to get better every day. We can create omni-channel experiences, but we don’t. Getting it right is vital in a hybrid world when meetings will have some participants in the room and others joining from remote locations.
(Stop complaining about video platforms and Microsoft Teams and learn how to use them so everyone gets a better experience. Designing team meetings so people feel there is a point and feel they add value is not a matter of technology. It is a matter of organisational design.)
Did you know that designing fun into your daily routine can improve the performance of your contact centre team dramatically? One of the most successful tricks I use is to have a daily joke. There is a point in every working day that is an emotional low point. It depends on the type of job and the schedule of the staff. Find that low point and have a daily joke session. 5 minutes of fun can increase emotional wellbeing for an hour. You ask the team to find memes or jokes to share and every day has a time that is joke o’clock. There are some key elements to this.
1. Everyone spends a little bit of time having a little bit of fun looking for something to share
2. Having a point to look forward to in the later part of the day gives additional energy to the feeling in the team
3. It is an opportunity for a little bonding
This has been a real win with teams working at home on challenging projects disconnected from their colleagues. A little extra effort that staff will enjoy if managed correctly. They do the work – it is their sense of humour.
One small warning don’t try to be funny yourself – you are the organisation. Let colleagues create the fun and just join in. More people are having fun that way!
There’s one final point about all these tips and in some way it’s the most important advice to take on board. That’s to get the team involved in every stage of the process. You must get their feedback and use their ideas. You can never know enough to make the right changes if you don’t engage the people who are involved and let them help you to continuously improve.
So, if you want to improve operational efficiency and financial performance then create a better working day. Obviously Enghouse can help with advice from a technology point of view, and if you want to look at the work experience you can follow these tips or get in touch with myself if you want some professional help.
Consultant Designer and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Foundation, www.pentelconsulting.com
One of the great pioneers of customer and employee experience in the contact centre industry for decades. From before the early days of cloud-based contact centres, through omni-channel and digital to the latest innovations in conversation and emotions auditing metrics/operational analysis he has worked for the world’s largest organisations changing millions of experiences for customers and employees.
Now working on the future of hybrid experience with the single question that has guided him through nearly 40 years in Contact Centre operation, auditing design and strategy – What can we start to improve today?