By : Mitch Causey
That’s a great quote, Mr. Penney. It yields a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but can we rely upon our feelings to guide our business decisions? Should we look at statistics instead?
Interestingly enough, it appears the statistics and the feelings are on the same page. Towers Watson recently evaluated a number of companies and found that the ones with engaged, connected employees had operating margins 27% higher than their under-engaged competition (source).
the researchers in the Gallup organization conducted a study measuring
the same types of things. Their findings? More engaged and connected
employees helped generate 22% higher profit margins than sub-engaged
Although we find that keeping your employees engaged is an incredibly complex matter with a lot of moving parts, if you successfully keep employee connection at the heart of your company, you’ll outperform the competitors that are neglecting this key principle.
Here are a few ideas that will keep engagement at the center of your training and onboarding strategies:
1. Rep to Rep Learning
Your senior call center reps have a lot of knowledge for their daily jobs. Your new reps don’t. We’ve found one of the best ways to bridge this knowledge gap is by leveraging your experienced reps for developing your training materials. This may not sound groundbreaking, but providing them with the tools to actually create the material is where this goes from good to great.
There is no need to rely on someone with “training” in their title in order to get your team completely up-to-speed and on the same page.
Candidly, we are surprised at exactly how successful this approach has been. It has made the groups involved more efficient by reducing translation losses between the practitioners and the training department. It has also made the training department more efficient because they don’t have to worry about this segment of training anymore.
In the call center, one example of this practice is a “training hack day,” in which the experienced team members take one or two hours out of one day per month to dump some of their tribal knowledge onto the training platform for others to view. Because of this, the experienced team members have more pride in their work, and the trainees respect the trainers and know whom they can seek for advice.
CEB put together a report recently that studied engagement in 1,579 employees. They found that team members who held a positive sentiment toward peer learning outperformed their counterparts by 8.4% (source).
2. Rep Self-Introductions
Onboarding new call center staff can be tough. In addition to training on business processes, required technology education and corporate mission, you also need to optimize your talent’s soft skills. This is a unique and sometimes overwhelming combination.
Starting this process before someone comes on board has a very positive effect. According to the Aberdeen Group, 77% of the best-in-class organizations are implementing onboarding prior to day one (source).
In addition to the standard employment forms that are typically issued in advance of the start date, we have found that allowing your new representatives to introduce themselves via the training platform is very beneficial.
Have your new hires build out an “about me” introduction lesson about themselves. In addition to the standard identifiers like work history, have them write about personal things like their goals, passions, interesting facts and even favorite YouTube videos. After the employee has completed creating the lesson, have them share it with the rest of the call center to begin connecting with others before they even start.
Doing this allows the current reps to know more about the new hires before they’re officially on board – without stalking them on social media. Further, this will start to generate more connections between reps as they can identify similar passions and interests. Over time, your call center will have a fantastic directory of everyone on the team that reps, new and old, can use as reference.
3. Constructive Rep Competition
In today’s world, nearly everything is tracked. From electricity meters to exercise, we can see what we do all day long – with graphs too!
It is therefore shocking to discover how few companies are implementing training platforms that track activity. Most are stuck in the untrackable world of Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. By adding a tracked, gamification element to the training process, you can display the data to spur on constructive competition.
Deloitte has been testing adding gamification to their corporate training exercises. They’ve found that by publicizing their participants’ progress, they have reduced their time to training completion by 50% (source). The numbers don’t lie – gamification works!
Whether you’re as large as Deloitte or only have a couple people on your call center team, today’s technology allows you to swiftly—and successfully—bolster your training platform with a gaming element.
Here’s how we suggest implementing. Take the next 30-90 days, completing onboarding as usual. During this time, track how long it takes your new staff to be considered on board. For the following 30-90 days, display your participants’ training progress and scores in a way that everyone can see them. Track the time to become onboarded during this time and compare to the previous period. Which worked better?
Whether you move forward with one, all, or none of these tactics for improving engagement in your call center, keep the words of J. C. Penney and the statistics above in mind. Make sure they grow together.
Success, after all, is not just about the warm and fuzzy feelings we get when we achieve it. It is also about improving the call centers and organizations of which we are part.
The best strategies give us good feelings and great results.