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How to Motivate Call Center Employees in 4 Simple Steps

May 1, 2020
ai in contact centers

Blog

How to Motivate Call Center Employees in 4 Simple Steps

by | May 1, 2020 | Customer Experience

Customer service is a paradoxical business function. And today we’ll discover how to motivate call center employees. Although the nature of customer requests is repetitive, your customer service team is tasked with delivering a personalized experience to each customer, a key aspect of excellent customer service. 

This uncertain nature of customer support can sometimes open a can of worms for both the customer service professionals and the customers. To prevent burnout and mental health issues, it’s vital to know how to motivate call center employees by employing employee motivation strategies and employee motivation techniques. These can include ideas on how to motivate agents in call center, such as customer service games for employees and team motivation ideas, ensuring that the team remains engaged and motivated. Implementing these ways to motivate employees not only enhances their well-being but also leads to better customer experiences, embodying the essence of customer service motivation. 

That’s probably the reason why the call center industry in the U.S. has an average turnover rate of 45%, one of the highest across industries. The business impact of this problem can be huge.

The stress that your customer service employees experience can impact your customers. For example, when call center staff lack employee motivation, it shows in their interactions with customers. This can lead to apathy, a hostile team environment, and a fall in customer loyalty. Effective employee motivation techniques and team motivation ideas are crucial in preventing these issues. 

But there is hope. There are personality traits for CX associates and you can train your customer support teams to care genuinely about customers if you take specific steps towards improving their workplace conditions. Below, we have listed four steps you can take to start inspiring your employees to be more caring towards your customers.

Treat them like customers

Most businesses don’t treat their employees the way they deserve.

The relationship between customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) is highly proportional, employee engagement becomes an important element in the realm of how to motivate call center employees. And every employer needs to know how to motivate agents in call center. In many ways, your employees are your first customers. To quote author Steven Covey:

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. You can buy a person’s hand, but you can’t buy his heart; his heart is where his enthusiasm is. You can buy his back, but you can’t buy his brain…Treat employees as volunteers just as you treat customers as volunteers, because that’s what they are. They volunteer the best parts – their hearts and minds.”

Your call center employees are akin to therapists, handling raw human emotions daily. It’s a stressful job, much like the challenges faced in customer service motivation. Just as you offer deals and discounts to customers, implementing employee motivation strategies such as team motivation ideas and best ways to motivate employees is essential to keep your staff engaged. Offering excellent perks is akin to how to motivate employees, ensuring they remain committed and effective in their roles. 

Here’s a real-world example from Wegmans on how to motivate call center agents, an American supermarket chain, showcasing effective employee motivation techniques. This example illustrates how to motivate employees in practical terms, demonstrating best ways to motivate employees in a customer-focused industry. 

Business magazines like Forbes and Fortune consistently rank Wegmans, an American supermarket chain, high on their lists, a testament to effective employee motivation strategies. Wegmans’ employee turnover rate is half the industry average, thanks to their investment in staff. This includes paying for staff upskilling, spending over $50 million annually on workforce training and development, and offering college scholarships, all part of their employee motivation techniques. 

This employee-first approach, a prime example of how to motivate employees, leads to a stellar employee experience and, consequently, a superior customer experience. Recognized as America’s #1 supermarket in 2016 by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Wegmans illustrates the success of team motivation and employee motivation. Their approach not only garners employee appreciation but also customer loyalty, as evidenced by their impressive average annual sales of $9.7 billion in 2019, showcasing the power of customer service motivation.

Give praise & recognition for good work

Recognizing customer-centric habits in your call center employees is key. It’s the first step you can take in learning the most important elements of how to motivate call center agents. Praising outstanding performance sets standards and motivates others, a vital employee motivation strategy. 

 However, be cautious with criticism. As Warren Buffet said, “praise by name, criticize by category.” This aligns with how to motivate employees and team motivation. Calling out good behavior individually can be a powerful motivator, aligning with employee motivation techniques. 

Frank Blake, former CEO of Home Depot, mastered employee motivation by hand-signing thank you cards for staff who delivered exceptional customer service. These employees were also featured in a video series, reinforcing team motivation and customer service motivation. Such public praise, a key employee motivation technique, establishes a culture of how to motivate call center agents. 

Set them up face-to-face with customers

Your call center agents often perceive customers in abstract, stereotypical terms, such as a support ticket or the ‘refund guy.’ 

To break this mold and foster empathy, a key employee motivation technique is to have them meet customers in person. This approach not only aids in employee motivation but also enhances customer service motivation. Companies we work with that have adopted this practice report its powerful impact in transforming team motivation and customer perception. 

For instance, one of our B2B client companies organizes a quarterly customer open house day. They invite a random set of customers for beer and pizza, fostering team motivation and customer service motivation. While the gathering offers food and drinks, the primary goal is for call center agents to interact with customers, understand their concerns, and gather direct feedback. 

This practice has led their support staff to develop genuine care for customers, a vital part of employee motivation strategies. Personal interactions, like a customer thanking a support agent for solving a technical issue, are profoundly impactful. Such appreciation demonstrates the importance of their role and motivates agents working from home or in the office to take a personal interest in customer satisfaction. 

Find ways to make your customer service teams personally mingle with your customers. This interaction breaks down barriers and helps overcome cognitive biases. Personal connections between call center agents and customers can transform perceptions, boosting employee motivation and enhancing customer service motivation. 

Encourage them to do charity work

Inspiration can come from any direction, you need to constantly look for ideas to motivate employees. In another instance of how to motivate call center agents, we can work on honing the empathy skills of your customer service teams, you can take an unlikely inspiration from Dr. Rick Goodman, an American motivational speaker, and author. 

 Dr. Goodman has a very simple—and somewhat unconventional—idea to create empathy in your employees. In his book, The Solutions Oriented Leader, Dr. Goodman writes: 

“Align your company with a cause. Allow your employees to feel like they are adding value to the world; that they—and your company—are part of something bigger, and something good.” 

 There are many ways you can go about organizing charity work for your employees to take part in. Give them the necessary support to distribute food and clothes to homeless people downtown, sponsor your team to run a 10K marathon to raise funds for the hurricane victims in Costa Rica, and give them the freedom to come up with their philanthropy ideas as part of your company’s CSR activities. 

 Charity instills a sense of giving and empathy in everyone, and it’s more effective when a team is brought together for the same mission. It’s hard to directly measure the impact social philanthropy has on your employees’ empathy, but there’s no doubt that such collective missions lead them to become more caring about the customers and make them happier. 

And that’s it, folks! That was our take on how to motivate call centre agents? Which of the above points makes the most sense to you? What do you do differently to motivate your call center teams to care about your customers? 

Asya Muzlera
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