Technology to Improve Call Center Agent Engagement & Productivity

Earlier this month, I discussed the growing trend towards home-based call center agents. It’s a field that – without a doubt – has been exclusively enabled by technology. But the role of tech in the call center industry stretches well beyond enabling virtual agents.

There was a recent post over at CallCentreHelper.com on 25 Ways Technology Can Increase Agent Productivity. It’s an extensive list of how technologies are being used to keep agents engaged, learning and productive – and some of the items make points that I emphasize on an (almost) daily basis.

While I agree with the gist of the article about ways in which technology can positively impact the call center workplace (some are common talking points for me as well), I want to focus on two in particular that inevitably come up in discussions with call center managers: gamification and coaching/feedback.

Gamification
I had written about call center ‘employee incentive’ or ‘rewards-driven’ programs (gamification) last year. When properly implemented, these types of programs are an effective tool for call centers seeking to boost productivity, as well as employee engagement, satisfaction and retention. Here’s a description from Entrepreneur:

“[t]he practice of synthesizing the best ideas from gaming, loyalty programs and behavioral economics, with the aim of driving user engagement over indifference…Recognition and a sense of competition are all strong motivators, and gamification works because it taps into all of these to keep sales teams engaged.”

In the 25 Ways Tech article at CallCentreHelper.com I mentioned earlier, the discussion on gamification rightly points out its value in focusing agents on behaviors that matter. Technology is poised to have a major impact of the use of incentive programs, increasing the scope of what’s possible. In particular, the employee development field will likely witness increasing use of eLearning-based rewards programs.

Proper Implementation Remains the Largest Obstacle to the Success of Rewards-Driven Programs
At CSR, we’ve found that rewards programs (to boost employee morale & retention, improve performance, increase productivity, enhance learning and more) can be quite successful. But the way in which it is implemented and how the process is managed are directly related to whether it’s an overall success.

It was also a referenced as a trend to watch in 5 Trends that Will Drive Employee Engagement in 2016 – largely in relation to the growing number of game-friendly millennials in the workforce:

What does all of the above mean for gamification? Enterprise gamification was all hype in 2012, but the practice of using game elements to engage employees seems to be coming of age in 2015 and in 2016. We’ve seen a lot of interest in gamification in the past year, from companies looking to drive performance and motivation to others recognizing the strength of gamification when it comes to e-learning and onboarding. [Read the full article at gameeffective.com]

CSR has seen growing interest in incentive- or rewards-based programs in recent years, roughly corresponding to the 2012 start date cited in the article.

My perspective tends to align with the article: that a millennial-driven workforce will continue to respond well to learning & engagement via incentive-style programs, and that companies will increasingly look at ways to improve the work environment for the millennial generation.

Targeted Coaching & Feedback
First things first: Whenever a discussion about technology comes up, I always remind people that increased automation comes with increased reliance on metrics and measurement criteria. Remember, agent scoring is only effective when the realistic metrics matching the Company’s objectives are chosen.

In my post earlier this month on managing virtual call center agents, I mentioned tech tools such as automated persona-based performance portals and speech analytics. These tools (and other tech tools referenced in the article such as performance management measuring) have made real-time performance improvement and personalized coaching a reality. As the article points out:

Detailed quality monitoring reports which break down results by evaluation scoring sections and questions can allow managers to review specific areas. From these results, agents can receive targeted coaching and development on specific areas, improving quality and productivity.

Coaching & feedback can help improve an individual’s productivity – and companies know it. (Agent, Supervisor and Manager training and coaching are among CSR’s top service requests).

Read the full article at CallCentreHelper.com: 25 Ways Technology Can Increase Agent Productivity. It’s a good look at some of the technology poised to change – or already changing – the call center industry.

Do you have any questions about how to implement effective training or coaching programs for your call center supervisors, managers and agents? Give us a call at 1-888-414-2774.