When it comes to motivating your frontline to do more, where do you start? Increase pay? Run incentive campaigns? Review their benefits packages? While these are often the first places that companies start, there are other factors that come into play.
Most important of these is your customers.
There’s an increasing amount of studies that show the effectiveness that hearing, sharing and engaging with customer stories can have on your Contact Centre agents [Source: HBR]. The studies also show that having this external motivation can be much more effective in driving performance and results.
Your customers are both the proof of a job well done and also the evidence of what happens when things don’t go to plan. Making them the main focus changes the thinking and approach of the frontline from pleasing the manager who is in the office with them, to pleasing the customer who is ultimately the person on the receiving end of their service.
How can companies empower their frontline with a cause?
To start, they need to be brave and not afraid of soliciting feedback. While it can be a tough decision, the evidence of its impact will support you. When feedback is about people, what we see is that most consumers actually have a lot of positive things to say about the personal interaction they've had. Even people with issues really appreciate a good quality conversation, with someone who's being thoughtful, patient and attentive. In the feedback, customers separate out the issues that they’re having (for example with an invoice or incorrect meter reading) and the experience they have with speaking to your Agents. This is especially true when you ask customers to express their experience in their own words.
Companies should take comfort that when they start rolling out this type of feedback programme, it’s not just going to be people who want to beat up their brand. The type of positive feedback they receive is in fact a really nice opportunity for frontline agents to self-coach. So, when they have a very good conversation with a customer and subsequently receive a really good piece of feedback, it’s self-affirming a job well done. They don't need a team leader to say that that was good. Equally, when they’ve had a bad day, they were maybe a bit short or snappy and this is reflected in the feedback, again they probably don't need anybody else to let them know it wasn't a great conversation. So they become more self-reliant. Their feedback becomes a mirror that they can put up for their own day-to-day performance. In effect, they self-measure against the customer expectation because they’re driven by this expectation – they have a cause.
Empower the frontline, so they have ownership
The real struggle with this is how do you operationalise it? How do you prevent it from being just another initiative, action or KPI? It has to be a cultural thing. The creation of this type of movement has to start with the frontline. Start with the people that are having the conversations with customers and give them ownership. Look to engage them in eliciting feedback from customers, because what they'll find is that customers will probably have quite a lot of positives to say.
Create a small movement within the organisation, sharing those little nuggets and stories that have surfaced from the frontline team. Distribute them through a bulletin or a newsletter throughout the organisation. That way the customers are starting to live as real people rather than numbers and revenue.
Watch our On Demand webinar to find out how else you can engage your frontline employees in the Contact Centre: