Key Takeaway: Teamwork is critical for boosting agent performance and improving retention rates, but it doesn't develop automatically - you need to take concrete steps to encourage it.
There are many factors that contribute to contact center success. Ultimately, though, nothing is more important than hiring the right agents and providing them with the resources they need to do the best job possible. Some of those resources are pretty straightforward: easy-to-use software, analytics-driven insight and so on.
But there are other factors that are equally important but harder to achieve - such as a work environment that encourages and fosters teamwork. When contact center personnel feel fully integrated into and supported by a team, their performance improves - along with agent retention rates.
Here are just a few tips to encourage teamwork in the contact center.
1. Embrace gamification
Gamification, as this blog post explained, is an increasingly important resource for a wide array of business purposes - including the contact center. Gamification is all about using game mechanics and strategies, along with rewards, to better motivate workers to excel. These efforts can be as straightforward as an Employee-of-the-Month program or more sophisticated, as in the form of gamified training programs for new hires.
Contact center leaders can use gamification to encourage teamwork, as well. Team-building games have been a staple of offices for years, and for good reason: These types of programs encourage bonding between employees in a fun way. With more advanced gamification, you can take this concept even further by incorporating it into customer engagement analytics. For example, you could establish teams and design a competition to encourage improvement in specific behaviors such as use of compliance language or a proper greeting. Analytics can track performance and provide feedback to each agent on how their team compares to others, providing a ranking – Your team is #3 of ten teams, for example.
The key here is that even though gamification is based on competition, it can actually be a force for unity in the contact center, and make working there a much more satisfying, enjoyable experience for agents.
2. Find the right managers
The manager can have a huge impact on the environment and work conditions in the contact center. That's why Customer Think contributor David Miller asserted that choosing the right manager can go a long way toward building teamwork in an inbound call center.
"Good managers create good organizational relationships among team members, build strong bonds between agents and update agents on changes," Miller wrote.
Managers should also have an excellent sense of how to best form teams in the first place, as well as how to address any conflicts that may emerge over time.
3. Emphasize openness
One trait that just about every well-functioning team shares, be it in the contact center or beyond, is a degree of openness. In fact, this may be particularly important when it comes to contact centers, as Miller pointed out.
"Creating an atmosphere of openness and candor helps build trust between team members and supervisors," he wrote. "By creating an atmosphere where agents feel they can be open and candid with each other, you'll also help strengthen the lines of communication between teammates."
Agents will feel much more like they genuinely belong to a team if they are comfortable sharing their concerns, frustration and general thoughts with each other and with their managers. This will empower team members to propose suggestions that ultimately make the contact center stronger as a whole.
4. Corporate unity
Customer service agent teamwork shouldn't be limited to the contact center - it should extend to the company as a whole. When agents feel connected to the broader corporate culture, they both perform better and feel more loyal. Conversely, agents who don't feel this connection will have a weaker sense of the organization's offerings and will be more likely to depart.
To improve corporate unity, contact center personnel should be encouraged to mingle with other workers both in a purely professional context and socially - for example, through fun company outings to sports or dining events.
What steps do you recommend to encourage contact center teamwork?