Productivity is the key to an efficient and profitable support business, and sustained productivity depends on several factors, including skills, use of technology, and employee retention--with motivation being critical to retention.
Posted Sep 15, 2003
Employee motivation is always a challenge, especially in a call center or help desk environment where the agent is asked to perform basically the same function over a period of time. Like any job, motivating the staff is the responsibility of the management, and creating an energetic, diverse environment is key to the organization's success. There is no clear formula for motivation, but there are effective processes you can put in place that have proven to motivate staff.
Productivity is the key to an efficient and profitable support business, and sustained productivity depends on several factors, including skills, use of technology, and employee retention--with motivation being critical to retention. The most effective approach to motivation focuses on three areas: recognition, job diversification, and compensation.
Recognition. No two employees are alike, but we have found that people across the board want to be recognized for their accomplishments. Being noticed for a job well done can go a long way in job satisfaction. Companies should institute programs that enable managers to recognize employees and show them that their peers and all levels of management appreciate their hard work.
At the local level use various types of informal recognition, including bulletin board postings of top performers (with their pictures); a peer recognition program in which employees identify peers who have taken the time to help them do a better job; posting of thank-you letters from customers praising employees' work; frequent call monitoring by management where the coaching is balanced with praise for things done right.
More formal recognition comes in the forms of cash awards, anniversary letters from senior management, newsletters highlighting employee accomplishments, and an annual trip for the very best of the best. All of these activities create a climate that shows the employees are truly appreciated.
Job diversification While the basic job is still to assist clients over the phone, there are several methods companies can use to diversify what could become a monotonous job. Develop a career path for agents that has an increasing technical skill level and peer-assistance program. Becoming a team leader enables agents who have become proficient to mentor those who need assistance. Training on the newest technologies is critical. Most companies' call centers support multiple platforms and software applications, and through training the staff can increase their job skills and diversify their day-to-day routine.
Salary Salary is a motivator in itself, but in this economy is always a topic for discussion. Most support centers model their compensation around a flat hourly wage, a model that provides little incentive to go the extra mile or take the extra call. An alternate model involves motivating through a bonus structure. The components are an hourly rate with a built-in bonus that enables agents to grow their income based on call volume and the quality of those calls. The result is a highly motivated staff conscious of the quality of the service they are providing. Call quality is the challenging piece to measure, but if you set guidelines up front as to what constitutes success, then effective measurement is possible. Do not allow quality to be compromised.
Keep in mind that motivation can be obtained only if the right working environment is offered. Not all these tactics will work in every environment, however, so a combination that suites your particular workforce and client set should help motivate your staff.
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