July 25, 2014 – The work of a customer service representative or cold calling B2B lead generation specialist at an outsourced call center is not easy. It is challenging to maintain the quality standards established by clients, productivity requirements are high and there are many processes and procedures that agents need to be able to perform.
A critical task for call center managers is establishing the right kind of environment in which staff motivation, morale and service quality remain high, along with employee retention. The key is putting place the right array of incentives that keep employees happy, focused and loyal to the company.
While there are a number of good ways to do this, we believe the most effective is an emphasis on promotion from within. Representatives who demonstrate a high level of diligence, responsibility and a strategic sense of the overall program’s operations and requirements should be told early and often after they are hired that they have potential to move up in the call center organization to supervisor or management ranks. As a follow-through, this should include, as early as possible, the addition of a task or responsibility that indicates to the new, promising, employee that higher responsibilities are coming their way, that they are being tested in a new role.
If that early test is completed successfully, then more tasks and responsibilities should be added, such as the training of new employees on the fundamentals of customer service and B2B lead generation (tone of voice, responsiveness, “active” listening and other soft skills).
Next, the employee can be given client relations responsibilities, such as providing a requested ad hoc report on an aspect of call center performance, or drafting and submitting a new cold calling script and then reviewing it with the client.
After the employee has demonstrated consistently strong performance handling higher responsibility, then promotion to the next level job should follow. When internal promotions take place, senior managers should reinforce the event with a public announcement that underscores the company’s belief in promotion from within.
Other incentives for performance excellence: salary raises and gift certificates. Putting the names of outstanding employees on a white board, and naming an Employee of the Month, are also good ideas.
Another sound approach is announcing an incentive award program for agents who generate the most upselling and cross-selling revenues, or who have the highest appointment setting success.
Other good ideas include summer and holiday parties at which the company president praises the employees and announces the major successes of the year, upcoming challenges and announces promotions. It’s also important to provide good employee benefits, including health insurance, health club memberships, a health & wellness incentive program and matching 401K. All of these factors contribute to staff stability and low turnover rate.
While most of our incentives are rewarded based on objective, data-driven performance criteria (average order size, first-call resolution, attendance, etc.), it’s also important to give rewards based on subjective observation, such as having a “team attitude,” pitching in during a crisis, mentoring new representatives and other demonstrations of a strong teamwork.
Mark Fichera, CEO
Beverly, MA (headquarters)