Call centres are by their very nature a people business; they connect people and provide solutions in real time. Strip away the complex systems, routing engines, knowledge management tools, CRMs and other technologies and at the heart of our industry is people. A call centre is therefore only as good as the people who work there.
At Stellar we understand that we are a people business and engaging and educating our people is what we are all about.
We believe there are 6 key pillars that you need in your organisation to ensure that your people are engaged.
1. Know the rules
Engaging people starts with educating them; why are they here, what do they need to achieve and why, what do their customers need and want? Encouraging your people to ask ‘why’ establishes a culture of ongoing learning and understanding. How much better is it to go to work each day knowing you are part of something, and understanding how you contribute to the customer experience and ultimately the success of your centre?
2. Keep score
If your people know what they need to do to be successful, you have to provide them with visible information so they can see how they are going. At Stellar we not only provide each individual with access to their own performance statistics; we share performance outcomes at a team, contract, centre and companywide level – even sharing monthly profit and loss.
3. Stake in the outcome
Incentive programs need to reward people for delivering what they are required to do. At Stellar we take this one step further with each employee receiving a monthly financial incentive based on their performance and that of the service on which they work. We share over profit with our people so they can track how they are performing and how they are rewarded. While not everyone may be in a position to provide this level of clarity and transparency, it is possible to link your incentive scheme to the ‘why’; a powerful motivator as it puts people in charge of their own rewards.
4. Empower your team leaders
Your team leaders are the glue that holds the call centre together and everyday they have conversations with your people about the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Give them the power to discuss both of these and ensure they also understand them. This is fundamental to ensuring that everyone has the same understanding and a common goal to aim for.
5. Implement Feedback mechanisms
Never assume that you know what your people are thinking – put the tools in place to obtain feedback from your employees in both a formal and informal manner. Make sure you have anonymous employee surveys – this is sure to give you a real understanding of any concerns. At Stellar we have an annual employee surve,s supplemented by mini surveys throughout the year. We also have a wide range of informal gatherings such as skip levels (non agenda based meetings that skip a level of management) to get ongoing and immediate feedback.
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
If you create a culture of openness based on understanding the ‘why’, you can never stop communicating. Don’t rely on emails or electronic means of communication for everything; nothing beats face to face meetings so people can ask questions. Team meetings, daily huddles and skip levels are all important ways to keep communication flowing. Don’t assume that a message can be communicated once and then never spoken about again; keep reinforcing important themes of your business as there is always more to learn.
At Stellar we have a wide range of engagement and communication tools, but we know that getting the fundamentals right is the first step to creating – and keeping – an engaged and committed workforce who deliver day in, day out.
Sue Robinson, General Manager Customer Strategy, Stellar Asia Pacific