The development of best practices in the contact center industry over the last two decades has been impressive and pervasive. Most contact centers have adopted industry best practices for recruitment, selection, training, WFM, QA, et al. which are now table stakes for any reputable service provider. (Hence not in my top 5) The real key is that even the best practices can be rendered meaningless if the front line employees don’t genuinely care about the company they work for and the clients they represent – that’s you.
The front line team may do well on QA, AHT, and other metrics in order to secure their bonus but to deliver a truly great customer experience they have to genuinely care and that begins with taking pride and ownership in the organization they work for. We’ve all experienced it when it happens; you can hear it in their voice. They’re genuinely concerned about solving your issue and take pride and ownership in making that happen. Isn’t that what you want your customers to hear?
Much has been researched and written on the link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction and nowhere is the impact more relevant than in call centers. Here’s just a few studies that support why this is my number one criteria for selecting a partner.
- The Gallup Sate of the American Workplace found that the companies in the top quartile of employee engagement experience 10% higher customer ratings.
- Bain & Company studies indicate that employee behavior and attitude is one of the most significant drivers of customer satisfaction. Engaged employees not only spread their enthusiasm to customers, but they also are more dedicated to providing the best product and service to customers.
Employee engagement is a simple concept but requires a huge investment and top down commitment to make it happen, particularly when you’re dealing with an industry that employs a younger lower paid demographic. I won’t go into all the strategies to drive employee engagement (perhaps that’s my next paper) but there are clear signs to look for when talking to a prospective partner.
What is the focus of the value proposition from the senior management team? The CEO of one provider I recently met stated that his primary role was to serve his front line team members. Not his shareholders or even his clients. He had proven that focusing on serving his front line team members was the best way to maximize shareholder value and deliver the best results for his clients. Other signs include the scale and quality of investments designed to enhance the workplace environment for a young demographic. (and I don’t mean a nice cafeteria) I visited a near shore contact center recently that had a rooftop soccer pitch where agents could let off steam during their breaks and lunch. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that provide staff opportunities to give back to the community in a meaningful way also encourage employee engagement. And finally you’ll see it on their faces. Happy engaged employees are hard to miss especially in a pressure cooker environment like a call center.