Featured Image for the blog: How To Build A Team of Happy and Engaged Contact Center Agents

Randi Busse, customer service expert, shares tips on what contact center leaders can do right now to improve culture and agent engagement.

The saying “happy agents equals happy customers” is a simple phrase that begs a complicated question – “how do you make agents happy?”

There’s no clear-cut path to happier agents and it doesn’t happen overnight. You know you need to improve agent engagement, but where do you start?

We took all the questions we had about agent engagement to Randi Busse, President of Workforce Development Group, Inc., a training and coaching organization that specializes in improving the customer experience, increasing customer retention, and maximizing revenue. She has been published in Newsday, Long Island Business News, and several trade publications. She is also the co-author of Turning Rants Into Raves: Turn Your Customers On Before They Turn On YOU!

Randi offered some actionable insights and practical tips that you can execute on today to start improving your contact center’s culture and create happier agents. Here’s what she had to say…

In what ways does empowering contact center employees impact the customer experience?

It is important that contact center employees feel empowered to resolve customer issues. When these employees feel equipped to handle customer complaints, they will feel more confident and motivated to assist the customer. An employee that is thinking and acting like an owner of the company demonstrates their ability to solve the customer’s problem or address their needs. When an employee answers the phone in your business, to the caller, they are the business. It’s important to make sure every employee represents your company in a positive way by being genuinely interested in the customer and not treating them like a number/account number.

Why do some companies struggle to empower or motivate their customer service team?

Some companies think they have empowered their employees, yet when I speak with the employees directly, they don’t feel empowered. Trust is the foundation for effective communication, employee motivation and retention. If we, as owners and managers of the business, are able to build this type of culture within our organization, we will reap the rewards, as will our customers. Employees who feel respected and trusted, and who are treated like adults will act like adults. Employees will be more productive and enjoy coming to work, and be ambassadors for our brand and our organization.

What is the #1 obstacle to cultivating a culture of an engaged workforce?

Engaging employees does not have to be a process that takes weeks, or months, or years. Engagement occurs each time you interact with an employee. You can easily engage your employees by treating them the same way you want your customers to be treated.

How can companies get started in raising employee satisfaction, ownership, and sense of purpose?

It is important that each employee thinks and acts like an owner of the business. The customer experience needs to be defined, specified, explained and communicated by companies to their employees. By doing this, it will help make every employee responsible for creating and delivering the best possible experience to their customers. When every employee in your organization understands that taking care of a customer is the most important thing they can do, you have a service culture that will drive your business to success.

In his “Inside Customer Service” blog, employee training and customer service expert Jeff Toister recently wrote that “many leaders make the mistake of using incentives and gimmicky programs to motivate their employees. Research shows employees don’t actually have a motivation problem. The real issue is de-motivation.” Do you agree or disagree with this assertion? What is your recommendation?

I agree. Incentive programs don’t work to motivate employees long-term. And employees become de-motivated when they receive mixed messages from management. They may be told to “keep the call time down” but still “provide exceptional customer service.” A great leader inspires engagement and ownership thinking among their employees.

Do you perceive a clear correlation between an organization providing a remarkable CX and seeing increased customer retention and/or revenue?

There is absolutely a clear correlation between providing a remarkable customer experience and increased customer retention. You want to make it easy for customers to reach you, talk to you, and do business with you. Make it all about the customer, and they will reward you with their business. They’ll feel good about doing business with you. And they’ll tell others about you, your company, and the great service you provided. If you don’t appreciate your customers, they will find a company who will. Remember, it is all about the customer, because without them, you don’t have a business.

Connect with Randi on Twitter, @RandiBusse.