On Aug, 27 2021
There isn’t a single agent out there that likes to be micromanaged by their boss all the time. However, on the other side of the coin, there are some important company guidelines agents need to follow and understand because they are essential to being successful.
This difference in communication is a reason why more contact centers are moving away from relying on a top-down approach with directives and instead are shifting their focus towards a culture where peer influence plays a major role. After all, if a friend guides you down a path, you’re more likely to follow and trust their guidance. This concept also holds true in a corporate environment where power hierarchies are present.
With all of this said, below are a few approaches to consider when it comes to leveraging peer influence to make your contact center workforce management (WFM) strategies successful.
Create clear and distinct expectations for all agents – Playing favorites with agents causes resentment and distrust among colleagues. For example, don’t let an agent request last minute schedule changes on a regular basis when many of their colleagues are denied the same opportunity. Creating a foundation of expectations for all agents to follow can go a long way to help build peer trust. People in general don’t want to work alongside others who think they are superior and deserve unique perks. Instead, utilize your WFM software to define the process for scheduling changes so that everyone is treated the same.
Include select agents in the WFM ideation process – Not all agents are thrilled with new ideas. Instead, there are some agents who will feel more invested in a WFM project or idea when they are involved from the start. If a company is looking to launch shift bidding for the first time, it can be valuable to include experienced agents in the process to get their input right away. Ask them about the bidding process, shift durations, and who has priority to better understand and refine the end-user experience. And, once the bidding solution is rolled out to all agents, have these agents help with training and sharing internal knowledge. Their positive excitement for the idea will come across to their colleagues. Involving agents from the start can make ideas feel like they are coming from a peer instead of upper management, which can improve the perception of a project or idea within your workforce.
Reward accountability instead of punishing it – A major positive of leveraging peer influence is the fact that you are utilizing peer trust. It’s important for a contact center to set examples that a loyal employee won’t be immediately reprimanded if they make a single mistake and own up to it. Agents can and do tell their peers about a problem they created before approaching management, and if a peer reassures them that the reaction from the management team won’t be overly negative, it can build up an agent’s confidence to admit they made a mistake. This level of peer reassurance and honesty within a contact center can go a long way in retaining your best agents.
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Implement a balanced mix of individual and team rewards – Simply put, some agents are not motivated by individual accolades. Instead, not letting down their colleagues (and friends) is what drives them to provide excellent customer experiences. By creating team rewards, not only are you appealing to this type of agent, but you are strengthening agent bonds by creating positive group experiences. For example, if a team has excellent schedule adherence during a busy week, reward them with a pizza party on a Friday. However, you also shouldn’t have your top performing agent and your worst agent receiving the same reward all the time. No two people have the exact same motivations, and a good blend of individual and team rewards are essential to cater to the different personalities in your team.
To summarize, peer influence can be leveraged to make your contact center WFM strategies successful by expanding your internal communication options. When agent boundaries are clearly defined, leaning on experienced agents to champion new initiatives and continually reassure their colleagues goes a long way in creating a productive and positive culture.