Any relationship expert will tell you that one of the key factors to a strong relationship is communication. Similarly, the key driver for an agent’s improved results is communication in the form of feedback. When contact agents enter into an agreement to join an organization, it should be perceived in the guise of a relationship and the best way for that relationship to flourish is maintaining a constructive, open dialogue between the agent and the company. Both parties should express their needs and wants at the very beginning, and both parties should then do their best to actively meet those expectations so that they can effectively co-exist together.
Relationships are hard to quantify, as it relates to results, but an agent’s production can easily be made measurable. We can’t always assume that an individual is performing well based on face value, so when it comes to assessing the skills of our contact agents we have to look deeper than what’s on the surface. Every member of personnel in a leadership position has their own idea of what a good contact agent is. For example, individuals with no behavioral issues yet have a attendance record are not ideal candidates for good contact agents, because one of the most important traits an agent needs to have is dependability. To discover the true breakdown of what makes a good contact agent we have to look at all the pieces individually.
For starters, let’s look at the basics: it’s vital that contact agents be present mentally and physically, have an attention to detail and an overall positive outlook for their responsibilities. So how do we get someone to that level? Regrettably, there is no a straight forward answer to this question. However, the journey to achieving effective agents begins with the aforementioned feedback from your company’s leadership team. If one were to look at other areas of business, such as retail, you will notice that there are a good amount of metric driven functions from a day-to-day stand point.
Each individual is expected to be the subject matter experts of their respective role, whether they’re on the phones driving customer service or rearranging a planogram for next day retail sales. Now, let’s look at the metrics that are tied to that. You have the amount of calls taken per day and, in retail, the number of items pulled and stocked on store shelves. Going a step further in dissecting each of these duties, you now have the quality of the phone calls to monitor in your call center vs. the cleanliness of the store aisles at the retail store. As contact agents are involved in each practice, they have to know several things in order to effectively advance their efforts. They need to be comfortable asking questions like, “Am I doing this right? And if I’m not, what can I change so that I can do better?”
While you observe the contact agents tasks, it is best to practice touch point recognition with each individual agent. This is can be used as an behavior reinforcement tool for encouraging positive behavior and dissuading negative behavior. Negative reinforcement should naturally be handled a touch more delicately, so those are best saved for one-on-one sessions. However, positive recognition, say for completing the agenda of a high call queue, can be something as private as a high five or as public as an email message blasted out to the entire team that highlights certain individuals. These practices may seem small to those of us in leadership, but performing these acts of recognition will do wonders for the contact agents’ self-esteem and their overall outlook of the company as a whole. Group feedback is vital as well for reaching a mass of agents, giving the agents a template in which to provide their own feedback. By addressing your agents’ concerns and queries, it allows them to perform better as both as individuals and the group as a whole which, in turn, helps produce success for the organization.
Not every relationship is perfect, just like not every agent is the right fit for a company. But exploring all areas for growth potential will help the cultivation of an effective and prosperous work dynamic between employer and employee. Though a company’s policies and process may be set in stone, being receptive to your own needs as well as the needs of your contact agents will always be the penchant for growth.