All Work, No Play Means a Disengaged Contact Center

We all want to create the best customer experience. Unfortunately, sometimes in our zeal to drive success we end up taking the fun out of our centers. We become the “happiness vampires,” sucking all of the fun from our teams.

Taken from my personal experiences, here are some top cautions as well as opportunities for center leaders looking to prevent a disengaged contact center:

Decor

Dear CEO: your center’s boring beige walls and grey cubes have to go!

And, please don’t ask your relatives or anyone in the company to design the decor and comfort of our centers unless they have worked in contact centers and they understand the importance of creating a positive, fun working environment. Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen in many smaller centers but large ones have challenges, too.

A large telecom center I visited a few years ago looked like a scene out of the movie Metropolis, with agent robots lined up in factory rows with no personal touches allowed. They also have high turnover rates, and based on my observations and agent comments, I’m certain their work environment plays a part.

Let’s put some color in their center lives including artwork, travel posters or other nice visuals on the walls, especially for centers with minimal window views.

Motivating Contests for 4 to 6 weeks of Fun

A small service center has had agents dealing with some business issues out of their control, so naturally they were feeling down and stressed.

I challenged the managers to design a fun contest for everyone based on quality and other work qualities they wanted to drive and reward. They chose the theme of “Service Superheroes” and had weekly goals for quality and performance to participate. Costumes were encouraged.

Soft skills, attitudes and quality improved as the agents competed with each other to be the best and had fun with lunch treats and costumed photos, too. The results were fantastic, including a tech support agent who used a company product to create his hero costumer!

Easy Fun Games for Small Budgets and Shorter Periods of Time

This is an inexpensive game I used when I was a center manager and it can still work today. I referred to it as “Retro Pac-Man Day.”

For this game, first make sure you have a wall space where you can hang/post large sheets for visibility in the center. Purchase 1 to 2 large White cardboard/paper sheets depending on the number of participants for your team (usually 6 – 7 agents max per sheet) and bright yellow construction paper. Buy two yellow sheets for each agent participating.

Cut out 2 circles from each yellow sheets (use cups or glasses as template). Give each agent 4 circles and ask them to draw a “Pac Man” face on each with a Black magic marker. Encourage them to customize the faces. Anything goes as long as fun and clean.

Draw a table on each large sheet of white paper with agents down the left and game days across the top.

One of their Pac-Man faces will be placed (taped or tacked) in each of the four spaces if they reach the goal that day. If they don’t reach the goal, the space is left blank.

Announce the daily Pac-Man goal for that day at a 5-minute start of shift meeting or the day prior. Some examples of goals are: upsell goal reached, worked scheduled hours/back from lunch and break on time, met availability, etc)

On Friday, bring in pizza or snacks for everyone and reward the top person(s) who achieve the most goals. You can have a drawing if there is a tie by placing the Pac-Man faces with agents’ names on them in a box and drawing out winners. You can also put the “runner ups” in a separate drawing. More goals reached (i.e. Pac-Man faces in box) increases their chance of winning.

Unexpected Surprises

We need to do the unexpected and add an element of surprise to an agent’s day. Make an announcement at shift start that the next upsell/cross-sell completed gets the $10 bill you have tacked on the wall of your cubicle. Or, a chosen number of agents reaching a morning goal get to choose from several sealed envelopes and find a prize inside. Prizes can be movie coupons, gift cards, or $5 bill.

It’s fun, quick and easy to manage.

Supervisors, Please Smile!

We have a no-cost way to help make our center more positive through our actions and words: A simple smile and a kind greeting work wonders!

Find time to walk through your center. Smile and greet every agent, including those who aren’t on your team. When they ask you why you are smiling, tell them you love working with such dedicated successful agents who make the customer feel important.

So stop running a disengaged contact center and start looking for ways you can make your workplace friendly, creative and fun. Having this atmosphere will drive agent retention and engagement, which in turn will bring customer experience success.

About the author

Since 1983, Melissa has partnered with Contact Centers and Retail Teams to help them develop strategies, operational processes and skills to successfully blend People, Process and Technology for Customer Experience success.

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