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Positively impact agent productivity through small operational changes

Keeping agents in a call centre motivated and productive is an ongoing challenge. Whilst there are a number of short-term fixes, often in the form of incentives and prizes, we look at how operational amendments can keep agents on their toes.

How small operational changes can improve productivity


Keeping agents in a call centre motivated and productive is an ongoing challenge. Whilst there are a number of short-term fixes, often in the form of incentives and prizes, we look at how operational amendments can keep agents on their toes.

The industry as whole is tarred with the same brush when it comes to staff turnover and retention rates, with a variety of reasons from task repetitiveness to performance feedback and outdated ways of working being among the common reasons.

Whilst the technology being utilised to run the operation is critically important, it tends to overshadow the people behind the technology and tasked with using it – the agents.

We look at some of the ways you can make small changes to your operation that can keep things fresh, maintain agent focus and improve productivity.

Spread breaks and use your system to keep a check

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that users working with display screen equipment should be given satisfactory breaks. As no specific requirements are given, it is down the employer to decide which best suits their operation.

However, they generally recommend that short and frequent breaks can be more beneficial than occasional, longer breaks. So, if your staff are currently given a ‘long’ lunch break, consider introducing shorter breaks either side of this.

The HSE advise that a 5-minute break after every 50-60 minutes continuous screen work could be better than 15 minutes every few hours, however, you could also look to strike a balance if that would not work for you – such as a 10-minute break after every 90 minutes worked. Whichever you decide, using your agent log in stats you will be able to carefully police it.

Let agents see their own performance stats

It can serve as a form of self-motivation when agents can physically see for themselves exactly how they’re performing at a given time by just glancing up at a screen, rather than waiting to find out in meetings or catch-ups.

A great way to achieve this is by placing visual wallboards in locations where they’re easily seen, meaning your staff can take immediate responsibility to see what they could improve on and what they’re excelling at – whilst seeing their peers’ performance could also stir up friendly competition.

Consider consulting with your agents first to see how they’d feel about it as it’s likely to require careful management, particularly initially, as you don’t want it to create divisions between those agents performing well and those not. A way around this could be to only show a ‘top 5’ or similar appropriate number – that way no underperforming agent can feel they’re being publicly shamed.

Offer sporadic hot-desking opportunities

The hot-desking model offers a mix of pros and cons for both agents and the overall business, allowing staff to freely use any available workstation rather than be tied to a permanent desk.

Whilst one pro may be how it’s a great way to carefully manage space and equipment where it may be at a premium, as staff beginning their shift can come in and take the place of staff finishing, a con could be that it lacks ownership and permanence as agents cannot personalise their desk space to make it feel ‘theirs’.

One solution could be to offer hot-desking on an ad-hoc or interval basis. So, ordinarily your agents will be based at their own desks but from time to time they’ll get the opportunity to work in different teams alongside different colleagues – this ensures their keep their sense of ownership and normality, whilst benefiting from picking up on skills from a diverse range of colleagues and interact with a larger scope of people.

Create appropriate and more varied agent shifts

Analysing your statistics can help you understand the bigger picture in your contact centre so there’s always the right number of agents working at any given time, ensuring peak and trough times are covered appropriately.

The resulting improved management of your resources then allows you to plan ways to make shifts for your agents more varied, preventing staff from continuously carrying out the same tasks day-to-day and creating a more fun working environment.

So if your company handles multiple types of contact, such as email live webchat or even social media support, you could divvy out duties as and when appropriate. This may also allow agents the chance to develop other skills and progress their personal development, increasing job satisfaction.

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