A company’s culture is a lot like a farmer’s soil, it’s the foundation from which all of your results grow. A farmer who tries to farm less-than-fertile soil would have a difficult time trying to produce a quality crop. In much the same way, if your company culture has a negative impact on your employees, it will be that much more difficult for you to produce positive business results. While there are a few examples of great culture in the contact center world, there are just as many or more examples of notoriously bad company cultures. Most contact centers fall somewhere in the middle ground.
“Culture” is a tough term to define accurately and completely. It is a subjective term, and as such, is open to individual interpretation. Partly because it’s rooted in the minds of individuals, culture is something that is developed over a period of time and can’t be installed with the push of a button. This means that fixing or improving a company culture is a time consuming process that involves lots of moving parts. As a contact center leader, where do you start that process? Here are some tips to help you get the needle moving in the right direction.
Till Your Land
Is the environment in your center dark and gloomy? Are the bathrooms clean and working? Do your agents avoid the breakroom? Environment plays a huge role in attitude. Replace those flickering fluorescent lights, fix that broken toilet, and decorate your dreary and bland walls. Simple fixes like improving the vending options or providing more comfortable seating in the breakroom can do wonders for the morale of your workforce.
Check On Your Seeds
It’s important to ask for, and act on, feedback from your agents. Agents are the measuring stick of your contact center’s culture. If they are unhappy, it hardly matters what anyone else thinks. Agents have direct contact with many customers every day and have the best grasp on their needs. Listening to their feedback regarding customers’ needs, and seriously considering their input, makes Agents feel valued and has a positive impact on their performance.
Spend Your Day in the Fields
A major component of culture that is often overlooked is trust. Building it requires open communication that develops from being visible and accessible to agents. Be there to tell your agents hello and goodbye at shift changes, get to know them and take interest in their lives. Jumping on the phone and taking calls alongside them is a great way to encourage and motivate them. Be consistent with policies, discipline, breaks, and perks. Deliver on your promises and be supportive and helpful.
Let the Sun Shine
We’ve all been on the front lines and know that contact center customer service can be a difficult, thankless, and unrewarding experience. It doesn’t have to be though! Agents can feed off of an energized and exciting environment that isn’t hard to create. Come up with contests and games centered on your operational objectives. Give high fives and praise for jobs well done. The goal is to create pride in success, which leads to agents striving to achieve it. Celebrate their success by decorating the walls with pictures, awards, and other accomplishments! Many contact centers rely on the heavy hand of write ups for motivation, ignoring the simple lesson every parent or teacher can tell you: positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement.
Having a toxic culture creates low morale, which then bleeds over into both poor customer service and increased attrition. While these tips aren’t a comprehensive guide to reforming a company culture, they are critical components and a great jumping off point. With the huge implications a negative culture has on your business, you simply cannot afford not to invest in your company culture. It takes time to grow a bountiful crop or culture, so get out there and start planting now.