How to Transform and Improve your Call Center culture


How to Transform and Improve your Call Center culture

If customer satisfaction is your ultimate goal, you must be striving toward making your employees empowered enough to satisfy customer requirements. Do you already have set core values of your company? Then, you are no doubt looking to translate them to your call center culture.

We all know that customer service is the driving factor for better performance. Leadership often needs to focus on the company culture in the search for change in their company. Since your call center is the central point in your organization from where your customers are managed, it is important to keep it as polished as the rest of your business.

A positive call center culture will trigger higher employee engagement. This will over time lead to better results. A healthy call center culture needs to be maintained thoroughly. Your contact center reporting employees will enjoy their work and feel enthusiastic about serving customers, which will in turn help contribute to a positive culture. Over time this will lead to outstanding service and higher levels of customer satisfaction, but also contribute to reducing burnout.

The importance of Call Center Culture

Call Center culture could be understood as a state where people are proud to come to work and deal with customers. This is something every successful call center should strive forward.  If the culture in your call center is bad, your employees will not look forward to coming to work. In turn, this will lead to other serious consequences, such as employee churn. Since it is often very difficult to see what a call center culture is good at, and where it is lacking, it might be difficult to realize when something is not right.

The term “culture” might be commonly used, however it is rarely understood. Often the cause of long-standing issues and a negative impact on the company’s reputation is the company culture. Call center culture is the culture of customer service. As such, poor call center culture means poor customer service.

It is not always immediately visible that your company culture is affecting the customer service and reputation. Sometimes this process can last for as long as six months before you notice any evidence of the negative impact of customer service. Only when you take a look at your company’s balance sheet you may notice that something is not right.

However, there are a few indicators that you can look out for. Managers of your call center should be taking the QA on your call center agents and leading by example. It is not correct to always rely on the numerical in order to measure the standards of your call center. However, it is often the case that only these numbers are carefully monitored.

Since employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are closely linked, the main thing is to keep your call center agents happy. Call centers have changed dramatically for every industry over the past years. Since we have so many technologies, channels and processes to manage, your call centers are expected to deliver more. Sadly, this is often done with less time and fewer resources. In order to keep the pace it is mandatory to go back to the basics of employee engagement.

Build your Call Center culture from top down

Turnover usually starts with your frontline call center employees. It is often the case that the higher up the ladder we do, the less turnover there is. Managers and call center supervisors have a turnover rate of as low as 7%, which is doubled or even tripled for call center agents.

Does this suggest that call center staffers in a leadership role are more secure in their positions? Then they are likely better equipped to serve as a source of professional support for their subordinates. Managers and supervisors should incorporate them in your efforts to build a stronger call center culture. Here is how you can take a top-down approach.

  • Don’t leave training and support programs solely to HR.
  • Try to engage your supervisors in the technical and emotional support programs provided to employees.
  • Resources made available to entry-level staff and training programs should be established to help supervisors stay aware of the challenges their teams face.
  • Supervisors and managers should take care to help their employees find ways to overcome daily challenges.
  • Ensure that your company has a clear and distinct mission statement.
  • Your supervisors should be aware of this statement and able to put it into practice through corresponding policies and procedures.

Promote Authenticity

If you are looking to establish or improve your call center culture, you are most likely paying attention to the latest trends in customer experience. This will mean that you are on the lookeout for technologies to use and closely monitoring where customer experience is headed in the next decade. However, don’t forget to focus on the present. Don’t make nods to the future at the cost of providing the basic customer expectations of respect, understanding and empowerment.

Your customers want to feel that the person at the other end of the line is being real with them. And your employees want to receive respect in return.

This is where it is very important to focus on building a culture that is brimming with authenticity. While this does not mean providing a hundred different perks, it is something to strive forward. Take care to find moments and opportunities to give your support teams and the opportunity to connect as human beings. Keep in mind your team relationships. Make sure there is the opportunity to connect between agents and managers, with trust at the core.

This trust will allow agents to bring their full self to the job. If they can be true to themselves, they will become more deeply attached and committed to doing a good job. If you are improving your call center culture, a step in the right direction is providing a culture built on authentic values, mission statements and relationships. This will be easily funneled into precious and important customer relationships.

Give your employees autonomy


Call center industry is one of many that need a fixed set of workflows and standardized job practices in order to work correctly. However, that doesn’t mean that managers and supervisors need to rule with an iron fist.

It is important to allow a bit of flexibility while building a successful call center culture. You can build a strong company culture by giving your call center employees more autonomy in areas. While your managers still need to be in control in order to manage the quality of work, your employees can still be independent in areas they excel at. Like resolving customer problems.

One of the biggest keys to employee happiness and wellbeing, as many researches show, is an acute sense of autonomy in their daily operations. For example, in a University of Birmingham study of 20,000 workers, researchers have found that the more autonomy a worker experienced, the greater their level of job satisfaction.

If you are unable to implement flexible scheduling, what can you add in order to further the autonomy of your call center agents? For example, autonomy can refer to the ability to make decisions without having to run everything past a superior. Your agents can contribute ideas freely and feel like they’re being heard. And this would lead to your agents being able to hold themselves accountable for fulfilling their job duties without being micromanaged. All of these ideas can be applied in your call center environment.


The importance of managing your team leaders


Your call center culture starts at the top. You cannot coach agents through a change, if your managers are not going through that same change. It is important not to manage by numbers, but rather to manage people as individuals. This is how you will be able to understand what is actually important to customers. This is one of the faults of the industry. A team leader sometimes has no support and the statistics are often the only thing they know how to interpret and control.

For a good company culture, it is important to go through development work with your team leaders. This will not lead to your team leaders drastically varying in quality. It is important to lessen the inconsistency at this level and to do this within your call center and through your company as a whole. Sometimes, supervisors and managers can be the biggest barriers and disruptors to culture improvement. Get your team leaders on board to make things work!

Even in a company where the culture is bad it is the management and leadership that has failed, not the staff. Your team leaders would need to learn how to notice the signals. No one builds a call centre with a poor culture. This happens over time through poor leadership.

In order to achieve a good call center culture, your team leaders and call center managers have to get out of their offices, be visible and communicate with the agents and their managers. A good leader is prepared to act on what the agents tell them, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Your call center agents are on the front lines and they need support in order to be satisfied with their work.


Don’t forget to promote a customer-centric culture


Satisfied employees will lead to satisfied customers, which will in turn lead to a customer-centric culture. First and foremost, a call center agent has to care. They are someone who is going to listen and be present in the conversation. The importance of human connection is that it is fueled by empathy. This can transform a wary customer into a strong and committed brand follower.

It is not easy to find talent that will know how to deal with customers, so it is important to push your company culture in that direction. Great handling of tricky moments requires an instinctive frontline response that puts the customer’s human needs at the top of the agenda. A good call center agent has skills like compassion and active listening. Currently, decision-making, critical thinking and good judgment are also very necessary.

Adopting a call center culture of empathy is important across your entire company. However, it often requires a rewiring of goals and enhancing your communication of values. A culture built on empathy will build and maintain customer trust.

The key to developing a successful customer-centric culture is to find the means necessary to keep employees engaged and inspired. As established already, inspired employees work the hardest, and having inspired employees nurturing your customer base is ROI gold.