It’s amazing to me that a CEO or top management at a company can put their best company front line people in the dingiest places to work and provide little to no motivation and training.
I’ve seen Call Centers or small Customer Service teams in old trailers, Reps hanging lunches up to avoid mice sneaking bites of their meal while they go into the warehouse. Then there are the windowless dungeons of phone hell….people given just enough room so as not to touch elbows and bad chairs that squeak or are bent like contortionists.
I’d like to say that the management in these places were not aware of what was going on, but unfortunately, all of them acknowledged it was bad and often added comments like, “Well, we are going to relocate in a year or two” or “Well, the Reps haven’t complained about it”. If no one complained, I guess that was because that company also had huge Employee turnover problems in the Call Center. No one stayed around long enough to complain. They stayed just long enough to find another job or on occasion post out somewhere else within the company.
Then there was the business that had an Exec who, when asked about the Call Center team said, “Do we still have one of those? Where are they?” In this case, the small team of five Call Center Reps were in a building several minutes away from the nicely decorated headquarters. There was a light out in the corridor outside the Center — dark and creepy— shades of a Friday night fright flick. The inside was no better. Grey walls, torn carpet, no pictures or anything colorful or interesting. And, there was row… after row… after row of old files stacked on open shelves filling one-half of the room. Reps complained of breathing dust in. A Rep had asked for headphone replacement parts for months to no avail and was now sitting 8 hours a day with her neck bent to one side to hold the phone while she typed. To add to the bad atmosphere, there was an off-site Manager who only visited every couple of weeks and no Supervisor on-site.
When I sat with Employees at this center, listened to calls and observed their interactions with each other, the word that best described the overall atmosphere was Apathy. They weren’t rude to the Customers. They took down information and answered questions. They just didn’t appear to care at all. All of the Service Reps had good work backgrounds in the industry. All should have been providing a high level of Customer Experience on calls but weren’t.
Fortunately, this “Do we still have a Call Center” story has a happy ending.
I wrote an Operational review report for this client and outlined some opportunities for improvements for the Employees as well as the Customer Experience overall. In one section of the report, I discussed how having a poor work environment was very demotivating to the team and in turn affecting both turnover and the Customers. Happily the CEO admitted that improvements were long overdue in the small Center. Within two weeks of making some initial improvements in the Center, the attitudes were greatly improved and so were the Customer calls. I had recommended, and they had implemented, some relatively inexpensive improvements such as installing an air filter to help with file dust, painting walls in colors the team chose, purchasing new Ergonomic chairs that were more supportive, replacing some defective headphones and cleaning old computer equipment out of the area (yes, the Call Center had also been deemed a garbage dump by IT). I also asked the off-site Manager to commit to more hours per week in the center doing coaching and motivating the Reps which she agreed to.
I’m happy to say that the Reps’ skills have greatly improved. The improved work environment, increased support and motivation demonstrated that Management cared about them. With the Reps’ attitudes and skills improved, Customer feedback is more positive and the Reps themselves are noticing that Customers are appreciative of their efforts and smiles.
Simple but effective solutions. This has been a real Win-Win-Win for all parties involved.
Filed under: Call Center, Call Center Manager, Contact Center, Customer Service, Employee job satisfaction, Employee Retention, Employee Turnover, Entrepreneurs, Ergonomics, Inside Sales, office furnishings, Work Environment | Tagged: Business, Call Center, Call centre, Company, Contact Center, customer experience, Customer Service, Employee job satisfaction, Employee Retention, Ergonomics, Motivation, Office environment, Retention, Supervisor | Leave a Comment »