Most companies are focused on employee engagement and understand the benefits for retention, customer experience and the bottom line.
Some just “talk the talk and don’t walk the walk”.
A few don’t even crawl.
The latter would apply to the senior management responsible for an insurance contact center team I’m writing about today. Incidentally, this is not one of my clients but maybe they should be.
A little background on the employees: They are a small satellite center a few hours away from the headquarters where a large 100 seat center is located. The contact center agents handle customer service calls and walk-ins needing help. They appeared to have a good system of shared work loads and they worked well together. They even spent a few months “self-managing” since their local Supervisor retired and was not immediately replaced.
Senior management finally posted the open Supervisor position. Two of the eight employees at the small center were interested in the promotion and so interviewed and tested. One candidate handled a lot of special projects for the center; the other was always asked to participate in new technology development and testing of systems and procedures. Both had excellent work histories and quality of service. Both had letters of praise from customers.
Both were offered the Supervisor’s job and declined.
Why would these long time, loyal employees turn down this great opportunity to become leaders with the company? Unbelievable as it may seem, they were offered lower salaries for this promotion than what they were earning as Agents. When each questioned the amount, Human Resources said that the VP had said that was all to be offered. They decided to remain as Agents instead of taking on more responsibility for considerably less money.
Then, the supervisor replacement took an interesting and insulting twist. They hired someone from the outside with no customer service or contact center experience. He had never processed an insurance claim or worked with the industry either. And more fun…those two agents were asked to train him.
There are some more great moments in Employee Engagement with this same team:
- An Agent relocated from headquarters to join the satellite team. The first day, the other Agents saw her leave at 4pm. She told them “We always leave at 4pm at headquarters”. The satellite team always worked until 4:30pm and never knew that the other contact center agents in the large 100 seat center left that early. No explanation was given.
Knowledge base errors:
- Agents are receiving “errors” from quality control despite showing the quality people (in writing) that the knowledge base has two differing answers for the same procedure. Management ignores and the errors continue on their performance reports.
Performance feedback (NOT coaching!):
- 98.8 accuracy performance stats (99% accuracy is goal) are emailed to an agent by headquarters manager who asks, “Why are you making all these mistakes?” (note to manager: SEE KNOWLEDGE BASE ERRORS ABOVE FOR ANSWER.)
Rewards and recognition:
- Agents receive letters from customers with compliments for service but management never acknowledges or rewards.
- Agent sent to internal conference with supervisors from other national locations. He is the only agent attending because his former supervisor was afraid of technology and didn’t like to travel. His suggestions end up saving company time and increase effectiveness. He never is told thank you or given an incentive for his cost saving and efficiency suggestions that worked.
Recently, the president of this same company sent out an eloquently written letter to all employees saying how they must all “focus on the customer”.
I heard the satellite team laughed when they read it. They said he never mentioned any appreciation for what they or the other agents were already doing for customers. The two who rejected the poorly offered promotion have expressed an interest in looking for new jobs. I hope they find something worthy of their great skills and work ethic.
Employees don’t need the president to tell them to focus on customers. What they need is for the president to say, “We are focused on YOU, so in turn, you can provide the best customer experience”. And then he needs to take action and do what he says.
Not holding my breath on that one…are you?
Filed under: Call Center, Employee Engagement, Employee job satisfaction, Employee Motivation, Employee Retention, Employee Turnover, Human Resources, Leadership, Promoting Employees, Work Environment | Tagged: Business, Call Center, Contact Center, Customer Service, Employee engagement, Employee job satisfaction, Employee Retention, Human resources, Leadership, Management, Motivation | 8 Comments »