I’m sure you’ve had one of these employees work for you at one time or another. I certainly have. They seem to love to complain. Or whine about things. Others just throw their hands up in frustration and say nothing to you….directly that is.
Our contact centers are communities so the comments, complaints and rumors spread like wildfire. Before you know it, others pick up the negatives and are repeating them.
At one center I heard the Supervisor complain: “I’ve told her about this (skill) multiple times but she still does it”. The Quality Manager replied: “Yes, she doesn’t listen”. Both shook their heads and went about their business.
At another center I heard an Agent say: “This (process) is ridiculous”. I asked, “Have you discussed with your Supervisor?” The Agent laughed and replied, “Why bother…no one listens”.
When we hear these type of comments directly or through the center grapevine, we need to determine if what is being said is justified, just whining or just having a bad day.
In both examples, the employees used the word “listen”. Is it really about listening or is there more involved?
Questions are conversation controllers and conversation openers. They help us to clarify comments made so we don’t assume what we are hearing is the complete information needed. We use questions during our problem solving with customers but forget at times how effective they are during our conversations with our employees too.
In the Supervisor situation above we should ask
- Why do you think Mary isn’t improving? Skill lacking or attitude?
- What does Mary say about these skills?
- Does Mary seem interested in improving? What has she said or done to indicate this?
- What have you done to help her?
- What do you recommend doing now?
- Is Mary in the right job here?
- Have you discussed with the Quality team? What do they think?
When we gather this type of information, we can determine whether the Supervisor has approached the issue clearly and logically or whether he or she is responding emotionally out of frustration.
For the Agent complaining about a process, some helpful questions would be
- Why do you think the process is a problem?
- What can be done differently?
- Is this a problem for our team internally or for our customers or both?
- If we made changes as you suggest, how would this affect the customers, your team, our business goals?
Of course, questions aren’t the complete solution.
If our employees are giving us useful feedback and suggestions from our probing questions, we must demonstrate interest and take action whenever possible to show support for their suggestions. If we are unable to implement or change something, we need to share that and the reasons why.
In the Supervisor example, if they are doing all the right things to coach and Mary is unwilling or unable to improve, we need to support the Supervisor if moving the agent to disciplinary action would be best. Our actions will certainly speak louder than words.
In the case of the Agent, some are so frustrated that their suggestions aren’t acted upon or given feedback why they may not be implemented, that their positive suggestions now turn into whining and complaining mode.
Creating an open dialog with our agents and front-line leaders where feedback is welcome, utilized when possible or told why if not implemented, is key to turning the complaints and whining into productive wins for our customers, our business and the engagement of our agents and leaders.
Filed under: Call Center, Call Center Manager, Call Center Supervision, Communication, Contact Center, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Employee job satisfaction, Employee Motivation, Leadership, Work Environment Tagged: | Business, Call Center, Call centre, Communication, Customer Service, Employee engagement, Employee job satisfaction, Leadership, Office environment, Supervisor