While you may do a lot of things – and spend a lot of money – trying to drive customer engagement, you may be missing one of the biggest pillars of the concept: employee engagement. Apathetic customer support workers who are thinking of little but their lunch break will never be able to help you build customer engagement. No matter how much money you spend on management consulting, promotions or marketing, where the rubber hits the road is the interchange between agent and customer. It needs to be top-notch, and it can only be so when the agent is knowledgeable, focused and invested in helping the customer.
The bad news is that American workforce is pretty disengaged today. Gallup, which tracks (among other things) employee engagement, recently found that 87 percent of workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their workplaces. What are the chances that you’ll be able to build a good customer engagement program when nearly all of your workforce wishes they had better jobs? In a recent blog post for Aspect (News - Alert), Christina Cowell writes that there are things contact center managers can do about this in order to lay the foundation to build better omnichannel customer engagement. It starts with coaching, as she discussed in a previous blog post.
“Ensure you have a solid coaching process in place to make performance metrics visible and actionable, instead of hidden and hopeless,” she wrote.
Another great trend is gamification, or structuring agents’ jobs and performance evaluation in a more exciting way…a way that resembles modern video gaming. It can dramatically affect attitudes of workers in general and contact center agents specifically, by introducing competition to agent performance.
“Creating healthy competition brings out strong performance in all of us, and conspicuously displaying quality scores will make a marked difference in the attitudes of your agents,” she wrote. “Using team quality scores is especially effective in building a sense of teamwork toward a common goal, since it is the collective score that is being judged against other teams. If you can create an environment of healthy competition, you will see increased employee focus, higher productivity, and reduced attrition.”
If agents do a good job every day and no one ever seems to recognize it, performance will drop and apathy will rise. Gamification offers daily, weekly and monthly opportunities not only to excel, but to be recognized for work well done. Most business performance analysts say recognition is one of the best ways to turn poorly engaged workers into properly engaged ones.
These efforts are not “perks” or “rewards.” They are much-needed improvements that will boost productivity, increase profitability and retain workers for longer. As of today, actively disengaged employees outnumber engaged employees by nearly 2-to-1, which is bad news for any company hoping to build a successful customer engagement program. Before you start trying to engage your customers, you need to engage your employees.