Nowhere is the quickened pace of today's workplace more evident than in call centers, where effectiveness is measured in seconds. In this environment, customer service representatives take a new call each and every time they hang up the phone. With each call, they're expected to be as positive, professional, and expedient as if they were taking their only call of the day. With all the stress, it's no wonder that high turnover and burnout are problems.
Ameritech's Chicago North call center office has successfully bucked these negative trends by initiating a systematic, online performance improvement program designed to encourage desired employee behaviors that influence the bottom line. Partnering with Motivation Online (www.motivationonline.com), an industry leader in providing customized Web-based incentive solutions for performance management, Ameritech identified the behaviors it wanted to see more of and devised a strategy to reinforce them through training and technology. Key areas that managers were watching included improved customer service satisfaction, call quality control, increased sales efforts by customer service reps, and closure rates on sales.
Turning Negatives into Positives Here's how it worked: Customer service reps were awarded points for each desired "call flow" behavior they practiced in randomly screened customer phone interactions. The points were delivered instantly into employees' electronic "virtual" accounts; reps could then use the points to purchase a wide range of products and services over the Internet. Reps who practiced all desired behaviors on a call not only earned the highest reward of virtual points but also qualified for entry in a lottery to increase their point totals tenfold. To increase their points, reps asked for more feedback, and their managers gave more frequent, higher-quality feedback. Managers also posted kudos on a daily briefing page that contained relevant information and messages.
Making the Grade The results? During the three-month tracking period, improvements were made on all the behaviors targeted in the program, with customer service satisfaction improving 40 percent over the previous quarter alone. As predicted, the program had a direct impact on both employee satisfaction and sales. In fact, in the initial three-month period, the Chicago North center moved from sixth to third place in revenue ranking of 15 centers in the region, with the trend continuing after the intervention.
Now that's a turnaround worth bragging about.
Tips to Take Away 1. Rally around the positive to create a more motivating work environment-- Create positive indicators that managers and employees can rally around.
2. Focus on the specific behaviors you want--Be clear about what you want from employees, communicate and train them as necessary, and systematically focus on those desired behaviors in both an immediate and ongoing manner.
3. Use today's technology to reinforce your message--Online reward programs can help you streamline your reward system and minimize the time it takes to administer it.