Motivate Your Agents (Part 3 of 3)

What role can incentives play in motivation enhancement?

Incentives can go a long way in making agents feel valued and part of a winning team. Incentives come in many forms:

  • Sales Incentives: Give your agents a commission for closing sales or achieving other business successes.
  • Bonuses: Whether cash, gift cards or prizes, bonuses recognize agents who have reached a performance, attendance, job-anniversary date or other critical milestone.
  • Contests: Sales organizations often use contests to reward individuals who meet specific performance goals. The approach works just as well in a call center.
  • Intangible Rewards: Agents who meet minor performance goals can be rewarded with time for playing computer games, an extended lunch break or a preferred parking space.
  • Promotions: A prestigious job title like “Senior Support Agent” costs nothing yet tells the individual that their experience and performance is valued by the organization.
  • Career Guidance: Besides a better job title, top performers should be rewarded with career track incentives, such as additional training opportunities and work responsibilities. These actions will assure your highfliers that their productivity is leading them toward greater opportunities within the organization.

Incentives aren’t the only way of motivating agents, but they’re powerful tools that when carefully applied can be used to build a more productive work force.

Motivate Your Agents (Part 2 of 3)

How do I know what agents really want?

The best way to know what agents want is to listen to what they have to say.

This can be accomplished through surveys and focus groups that enable agents to vent their complaints and express their needs.

Be sure to include a cross-section of all agents in your outreach initiatives: new hires, veterans, high-performers, laggards, the disgruntled and the jubilant.

What effect does call-center culture have on agent motivation?

Agents take their cues from call-center bosses. Managers and supervisors who appear tired, distracted, angry or bored are hardly great motivators.

Building agent enthusiasm requires a management team that’s involved, responsive, and ready to take on projects with energy and enthusiasm. Bosses should exude excitement over small success and acknowledge agents’ contributions.

Will better morale automatically lead to lower turnover?

Enhanced morale can reduce staff churn by increasing satisfaction. Few agents will leave a job simply because a competitor pays 25 or 50 cents more per hour.

On the other hand, low turnover isn’t necessarily indicative of a productive work force. Underachieving agents may feel perfectly happy in their work and not be tempted by greener pastures, particularly if they believe their jobs aren’t at risk.

Call-center managers must recognize the difference between agent satisfaction and complacency, and be willing to weed out low-scoring agents despite the potential negative impact on staff churn.

Motivate Your Agents (Part 1 of 3)

When it comes to call-center agents, morale and motivation are closely interlinked. Morale is the enthusiasm agents have for their work. When agents feel valued and satisfied, those emotions tend to be reflected in their performance and they become motivated.

What is the best way to boost agent motivation?

There is no one “best way” to increase motivation. Morale plays a big role. The four basic areas that affect agent motivation are:

  • Physical Environment:
    • Is the call center located in a safe neighborhood?
    • Is the facility clean and well organized?
    • Is it modern and attractive?
    • Is it sufficiently heated and cooled
  • Working Environment:
    • Is the furniture and equipment in good working order?
    • Do the fixtures support the agents or work against them?
  • Intellectual Environment:
    • Do the agents have the training and coaching they need to do their job?
    • Are call-center rules logical and well stated, or just a hodgepodge of decrees that have accumulated over the years?
  • Emotional Environment:
    • Are supervisors responsive to agents’ questions?
    • Are they supportive in tough times?
    • Do they admit mistakes?
    • Are they flexible enough to bend the rules in extraordinary situations?

10 Things to Do When Overcoming Rejections

Managers just hate it when their agents can’t “overcome” objections.

When writing an article many years ago about “Overcoming Objections,” it occurred to me that customers do not like salespeople who make them feel wrong or stupid. Agents are trained in pointing out how wrong customers are. What’s wrong with this picture?

Sadly, some salespeople think it is their job to point out the mistakes of the customer, declare the stupidity of what the customer is thinking and then when the agents don’t “win,” they lose their self-esteem and wonder why they can’t succeed in “overcoming” objections. As leaders, why don’t we fix this?

When salespeople lose confidence in themselves, they start making up reasons why customers don’t want to buy and managers pull their hair out .

Agents need to learn what works and what doesn’t work when the customer says “no” or “maybe.” Sometimes no means no.

10 Things to Do When Overcoming Rejections

Here are the Ten Things to Remember About Overcoming Objections:

1. Know the difference between a “no” and “I’m not sure.”

  • Be sure your agents know if the customer has a different opinion or a serious money problem.
  • You must fix the real issue, not just brag and “overcome” it with clever words.

2. Be prepared for the top-four objections.

  • Money: The price is too high, the payments are not easy, the shipping is too expensive.
  • Need: The customer has too much product or it doesn’t fit the customer’s needs.
  • Time: The time isn’t right, later is better, sooner is worse.
  • Person: The last encounter with an agent was not a happy one.

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The Economics of Customer Relationships

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The Economics of Customer Relationships

The great balancing act! Many companies are dealing with what appears to be conflicting issues. How do you determine the correct balance between the handling of customers effectively and maintaining appropriate services levels.

To effectively design your service level and customer experience, you need to understand the financial drivers behind your service level performance. It is imperative to understand what the value of each relationship is, as well as the costs of complaints. Serving different customers differently is another critical principle to maximizing your customers’ relationship value.

This session will focus on identifying the key financial drivers of customer relationships and how to apply them to design an optimal customer experience.  The webcast will include results from the latest CEM benchmark study regarding organizations understanding of the economics of relationship driving their business.
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How to make Effective Use of Customer Feedback

Nice Systems


How to make Effective Use of Customer Feedback Webinar

Most organizations understand the importance of obtaining feedback to gain a true perspective of how well they meet their customers’ expectations. However, interpreting survey results and using that knowledge effectively is often difficult. Doing this successfully requires a deeper understanding of the context in which a customer’s responses were given.

Using real-world examples this session examines how an integrated customer feedback/quality management system provides this insight, and how that can be used to affect real improvement.

In this session we explore:

  • The pros and cons of different customer feedback solutions
  • How to gain a fuller understanding of the fundamental reasons behind responses
  • Methods to ensure agent performance aligns with customer expectations
  • The ultimate source of customer feedback – call recordings

Register online for the How to make Effective Use of Customer Feedback webinar.

How to Improve Your Agent Retention


How to Improve Your Agent Retention:

Effective Best Practices to Reduce Agent Turnover

There is no single reason for high turnover in contact centers. Common reasons include; schedule poor relationships between agents and supervisors, incorrect hiring decisions, lack of career path, poor skills development, and the list goes on. Some of these are just a contact center fact of life. Contact centers can be stressful places to work, and many of the agents are a flight risks to start with. Moreover, the sheer volume of hiring all but guarantees that a large percentage of bad hires will slip through the cracks.

But for the agents who want to be there—and who you most want to keep—there is a new approach that has proven effective in increasing agent satisfaction and reducing attrition in service organizations in the highest volume industries.

Join Enkata to hear an educational Webinar sharing the latest best practices for reducing agent turnover.

The speakers will cover:

  • Building trusted and productive relationships between supervisor and agents
  • Creating incentive for agents to stay
  • Helping your agent understand their part in impacting their companies success

Register online for the How to Improve Your Agent Retention webinar.

How to Turn First Calls into a Relationship



How to Turn First Calls into a Relationship

FREE Live Webinar on Wednesday, March 12, 2008
11 AM PST (2 PM EST)

Speakers: Jim Dickie, CSO Insights
Kineon Walker, Citrix Online

One of the greatest challenges facing sales teams today is turning first calls into legitimate sales opportunities. How do you develop a relationship with new prospects and win their loyalty?

Join CSO Insights Managing Partner Jim Dickie for a free live webinar as he presents several key findings from a recent CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization study.

Jim will highlight specific obstacles sales people must overcome in order to build relationships with new clients and will outline how sales teams can leverage processes, technology and knowledge to increase conversion rates and sales.

During this Webinar you will learn how to: 

  • Increase cold call conversion rates by 33%
  • Decrease new rep ramp-up times by 28%
  • Reduce no decisions by 11%
  • Use technology to reach out to prospects and demo products or services

Register online for the How to Turn First Calls into a Relationship webinar.

Workforce Analytics Business Intelligence Meets Human Capital Management

Review Aberdeens comprehensive look into process, procedure, methodologies and technologies with best practice identification and actionable recommendations.

Workforce analytics is not a new concept. The ability to measure human capital metrics to obtain greater insight into workforce-related issues has been possible for well over a decade, however few organizations have adopted the practice in a meaningful way.

While companies continue to struggle with the concept of workforce analytics, there is no doubt that adopting a more sophisticated workforce performance measure allows human capital practitioners to more accurately target needed solutions and play a more strategic role in overall business development.

This paper is a roadmap for the rest of the Human Capital Management (HCM) community that desires to achieve those goals through the Best-in-Class use of workforce analytics.

Grab a free copy of the Workforce Analytics Business Intelligence Meets Human Capital Management whitepaper.

Three Ways to Keep from Drowning in Data

Too many KPIs and not enough performance. Does this problem sound familiar?

Many organizations today face this challenge as contact centers, and front- and back-office operations deliver a flood of performance data to the enterprise. Although this abundance of information provides some insight into “what” is going on, it has traditionally failed to answer the more important questions of “why?”

Today, new advances in performance management combine the power of performance analytics and speech analytics, enabling organizations to make sense of data to enhance performance across contact center, back-office and enterprise departments.

The goal of any performance-management solution should be to help organizations improve service, increase customer satisfaction and drive more profitable operations.

With the wealth of information pouring out of the contact center and back offices, performance-management solutions enable organizations to more easily identify the performance indicators that are most important to the organization, effectively changing performance management from a metrics-driven to results-driven initiative.

  1. Performance Analytics
    Early performance-management information was often driven out of the finance department, the customer contact center or IT department. Today, performance analytics combine data from a variety of systems across the enterprise, including customer and operational databases such as CRM and ERP, to identify the most important KPIs that influence the most impactful behaviors and processes. Performance analytics sort through an array of operational metrics – productivity, service levels, throughput, backlog, quality – and deliver performance intelligence via a powerful dashboard. Armed with targeted KPIs, executives are empowered to make smarter decisions on the most effective ways to enhance overall operational performance.
  2. Customer Interaction Analytics
    Performance management should also leverage the voice of the customer as a key source of performance intelligence. Organizations can leverage customer interactions captured in the contact center, and front- and back-office for insight into ongoing customer issues, process breakdowns and service challenges. The introduction of speech analytics into performance management delivers insight into the root causes of performance trends — from average handle time and first call resolution to customer defections and sales conversion rates. This actionable intelligence enables individuals to adopt more efficient processes, learn new skills and drive enterprisewide business performance.
  3. Consulting and Training Services
    In addition to analytics technology, performance management should also include a consulting services program designed to apply this performance and customer intelligence to optimize business processes, enhance performance training and improve customer loyalty and retention. Because performance management touches departments throughout the enterprise, it is important that every layer of the organization is engaged in the execution of these process changes, from senior managers to individual service providers. Consultants can use proven best practices developed in extensive enterprise customer engagements to deliver deep expertise, from transaction and claims processing to finance, billing, marketing and sales.

In today’s complex contact centers and back-office processing areas, more timely and informed decisions can transform the results of enterprise performance. With the explosion of metrics from an ever-growing number of enterprise systems, executives can use analytics-driven performance management to deliver actionable intelligence and decipher which KPIs are really key and why.

By Mariann McDonagh, vice president, global marketing, Verint Systems Inc. Verint Systems is a leading global provider of analytic software-based solutions for communications interception, networked video and business intelligence.