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Keep Your Contact Centre Agents Motivated Working From Home

29 November 2021      
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Keep Your Contact Centre Agents Motivated Working From Home

If you’re new to running a contact centre from home, you might be up against new challenges. One that we get asked more often than not is “How do I keep my call centre agents motivated when working from home?”

If it’s the first time for these people working from home, there are unique challenges based on the working environment they have grown accustomed to.

Even if they have worked from home before but not in a contact centre capacity, there can be some real challenges.

To help you keep agents motivated, we reached out to contact centre experts for their best tips.

Review these below then follow our tips for training, motivation, and continuous learning.

How do you motivate a call centre employee to work from home? 

Mike Aoki, Customer Service and Sales trainer at Reflective Keynotes Inc. mentions the importance of letting agents know what they are doing is benefiting the company (not just the call centre).

"The biggest advice I'd give is to connect a sense of meaning to their work. Let them know how their work is helping customers and helping the company. Share positive stories and CSAT/NPS scores that customers have given to the contact centre. Highlight the positive impact the contact centre makes on the business. Let them know you personally appreciate their hard work and dedication. "

Tyler Martin, Business Coach at ThinkTyler, says it’s important to convey a positive attitude. If you’re down in the dumps, how can your team respond well to that?

“It's tough to motivate virtual teams if you're not motivated yourself. As a result, being an upbeat leader is essential. It's especially vital in a remote work setting when negative emotions like dread, uncertainty, and concern might arise unexpectedly.

Many studies have examined the significance of looking on the bright side of life. It's not only good for your mental and physical health, but it's also a crucial leadership quality for innovation. When you are upbeat, you exude power, urge others to improve their talents, and encourage everyone you come into contact with to be their best selves."

Kerry Francis at Virtual Boss Mindset, who started out as an inbound call centre agent, says she learned to motivate herself by learning three customer service rules:

  1. Understanding that customer's frustration should NOT be taken personally
  2. Understanding that I am there to help and follow the company’s guidelines
  3. Knowing that not all customers have a voice and sometimes listening is better than being talkative as a rep.

Tyson Stevens, Founder of Eduref, says you must allow individual agents to make their own decisions.

“Micromanaging is not an option. You must trust your team members to carry out obligations, objectives, and deadlines. Great virtual leaders understand the necessity of equipping their employees with the necessary tools and support and then delegating the rest of the work to them. If you want to be successful, give your skilled personnel the freedom to do their tasks and make decisions as they see fit.

Just make sure you have a system in place to manage accountability within the boundaries you've established. This necessitates the use of quality assurance tools. It not only helps your team members make good decisions, but it also enables you, as a leader, to schedule periodic check-ins and evaluate performance, allowing you to give them greater authority.”

Putting advice into practice

Now you’ve read these tips, it’s time to put a plan together. It’s one thing to digest the information and say you’ll do it. It’s another to follow through and keep your agents motivated.

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Set aside dedicated time for agent training each month
  2. Schedule company all-hands or town halls to keep agents up to date (so they know what impact they’re having)
  3. Record both training and all-hands for absentees
  4. Send quarterly internal questionnaires to gauge employee satisfaction
  5. Monitor what agents have learned and enable cross-skilling

In an office environment, these can be easy to set up and monitor as you can literally see all agents and supervisors. But if your teams are working from home, you’ve got a unique problem yourself. Training must take a new dimension too.

How can I train a call centre agent remotely?

A big part of keeping agents happy and productive is to have a clear path for career progression. When agents are happy and well-skilled, the customer experience often looks after itself.

Use these five tips and tools to frame your remote agent training program.

1 - Schedule remote all-hands sessions through Microsoft Teams

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Microsoft Teams live events

The broadcast features of Microsoft Teams allow you to create one-way or two-way live sessions with anyone inside (or outside if needed) your company.

Much like an all-hands session where everyone gathers in a meeting room environment, Teams enables entire departments or businesses to come together and listen to company updates.

You get all the standard features of any video conference like screen sharing and meeting recording. You can even hook up Teams to YouTube to broadcast to a wider audience or watch back at a later date.

Meeting participants can use in-meeting functionality like Q&A and chat. Or “viewers” can become active participants when the broadcast organiser invites other people to talk or present.

2 - Schedule one-to-one training through Microsoft Teams

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Virtual training for remote agents

For smaller groups or one-to-one sessions, Microsoft Teams provides a familiar interface to run remote sessions for your agents.

You can configure Teams for live virtual training or simply invite agents to recurring or one-off sessions.

For example, when a new feature is added to your contact centre software, you can gather each department together and show them how to use it. In these group sessions, like-minded people can ask questions that prompt better discussions.

Another example is more intimate one-to-one training. If an agent struggles with a particular skill or contact channel, you can invite them to a private session and tailor it to their needs.

3 - Package up recordings to create your own online training centre

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Online training centre

When using Microsoft Teams for training, why not record your sessions and add them to a public (or private) library? 

You could upload each video to your company’s Youtube channel or use Microsoft OneDrive and Stream to store them in-house.

Over time, you will build up sessions that you can send to new agents so you free up your own personal training time. Double up and use these videos for refreshers when existing agents haven’t used a certain tool or skill for a long time.

4 - Use Typeform to create online surveys

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Typeform for employee surveys

Listening to your agents is one of the simplest ways to ensure both motivation and appropriate training.

But for some people, asking for help isn’t easy. The good news is here that there are online tools to help you out. Agents often find it easier to type their thoughts or choose skills from lists.

Typeform is an online survey creation tool that allows you to create bespoke employee questionnaires. 

Populate your survey with open-ended, tick box, or multiple-choice questions to receive feedback from your agents on how they feel and what training they think they need.

You can ask for names or keep your questionnaire anonymous.

If you’re already using Teams then Typeform has an integration where you don’t even need to open a new tab to start creating or completing a survey.

Outside of Typeform, Teams users can use the native polling feature during training sessions or the Polly bot in channels.

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Polly for Microsoft Teams

Use Polly to gather regular or ad-hoc feedback within specific channels.

You can get:

  • Real-time responses to essential questions
  • Multiple-choice or freeform polls
  • Real-time analytics and insights

5 - Keep a skills matrix to understand who knows what

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Skills matrix to measure remote agent training

It’s one thing running virtual training sessions and uploading them to a library. But how do you keep on top of what people know and where their skill gaps are?

By creating a skills matrix, you can track what every team member has been trained on, which tests they’ve completed, and clearly see where training focus needs to be.

Getting started is easier than it looks.

  1. Open a spreadsheet and list all your agents (or department by department) down in one column.
  2. In the top row, add all the skills, tools, competencies, or courses they need to have.
  3. Create a key which denotes how qualified each agent is at each skill. In the example above, the diagram uses quarters until a circle is complete. You can also use a number-based system (1-5) or a grade-based system (A-E).
  4. Ask each agent to fill out their own skills matrix based on their believed ability.
  5. Create your own version to complete as you monitor and train your agents.

When an agent fills out a complete circle, they are an expert. Your experts can now become trainers in the skills they know better than anyone else.

Not only does the skills matrix provide a visible spectrum of how your agents are progressing, but you can also use this as a basis for gamification and career progression.

Note: this works in both homeworking and office-based environments. You can display your skills matrix on screens in the office or on a virtual display in Microsoft Teams or your contact centre software.

Conclusion

Keeping agents motivated when working from home (for the first time or otherwise) is a unique challenge for contact centre supervisors.

You can’t see your people so it is harder to gauge employee happiness.

To kickstart your motivation campaign, reread the snippets from the customer service experts.

When you’re done, go about implementing the Microsoft Teams training, online polls, and skills matrix.

We promise it’s worth it.

If you need help with any of the tips suggested in this article, book a call with a contact centre expert here.