Contact centres are busy places. From the start of morning briefings to the end of the day’s final call, there’s rarely a slow moment. With all that noise, it can be easy for managers to get bogged down in the detail rather than planning for the future.
One of the areas that often gets overlooked is company culture. But a strong, positive atmosphere can have a huge impact on a range of factors, from staff performance and productivity to morale and retention.
If there’s room for improvement in your contact centre culture (and there almost certainly is), read on to find all you need to know about culture transformation.
What is culture transformation?
The phrase “culture transformation” has become a bit of a management buzzword in recent years. As with many buzzwords, there’s no single definition for what it actually is – partly because what counts as a “positive culture” is constantly changing too.
Broadly speaking, culture transformation is about permanently altering a company’s outlook. This touches on a wide range of areas, including:
- Office environment
Importantly, it has to be irreversible to be successful. If you build a more positive culture while things are going well, then revert back to a previous – less engaging – model when times get harder, you haven’t transformed anything.
What are the benefits of culture transformation to contact centres?
Your contact centre agents are the voice of the company and your most important asset. So it stands to reason that you’d want them to feel happy, engaged and bought into your company’s culture.
Your employees certainly think so. Indeed, contact centre staff rate company culture as the second most important aspect of a company’s profile – behind only job security, and well ahead of other factors such as facilities and social events.
But it’s not just about making your team feel happier for the sake of it. As we discuss in our guide “25 Ways Contact Centres Can Drive Employee Engagement to Reduce Attrition”, company culture is closely tied to employee engagement. According to a McKinsey study, engaged contact centre agents are:
- 8.5 times more likely to stay than leave within a year
- Four times more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues
- 16 times more likely to refer friends to their company
- 3.3 times more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues
In other words, they’ll stay with your business longer, perform better, and encourage their friends to do the same.
What are the steps to transforming contact centre culture?
Culture transformation isn’t about gimmicks. Buying a pool table and a beer fridge might make your team feel happier for a few weeks, but will do little to positively change your workplace culture in the long term. Here are the steps you need to take to deliver irreversible change:
- Ask yourself what your company stands for
Obviously, you work at a contact centre. Your job is ultimately about effectively resolving customer queries. But why are you doing that? Why not sell TVs, cut lawns, or design wedding dresses?
If the answer is “money”, that’s not good enough. Beyond wanting to know that their jobs are secure, your team have little reason to care how much money the company makes.
As managers, you need to drill down to the reasons that you get out of bed in the morning. Is it to deliver a better customer experience than any other contact centre? To work with talented people? To learn new skills? To be technologically ahead of the curve? These are the answers that will help you define your company values, which form the bedrock of your new culture.
- Make culture a part of your recruitment plan
Qualifications and experience can be useful measures when recruiting new contact centre agents. But if a candidate doesn’t fit with your cultural values, you’ll never get the best out of them, however talented they might appear.
Generally speaking, people who are bought into your values, goals and culture will stay with you longer and perform better. At Pure, we make it our mission to find candidates who don’t just align with your values, but have the personality and ability to add to your culture. Want to find out how we do it? Give us a call or fill out our contact form – we love to talk!
- Invest in your staff & promote from within
For your team to feel able to perform at their best, they need to know that you believe in them and are prepared to invest in their future. Unfortunately, more than half of entry-level employees say their career paths and promotion prospects have never been clearly explained to them.
Not only should your agents be aware of the opportunities that could be open to them in future, but they need to know that you’re focused on helping them grow. Set them practical, measurable goals that, if fulfilled, will lead them to a pay rise or promotion.
Once you’ve done this, set aside regular slots – at least once a month – to talk through their progress. If they haven’t met their commitments, don’t rush to criticise; find out why and offer support.
- Focus on the right metrics
There are so many numbers to look at in a contact centre, it can be difficult to pick out the figures that actually mean something.
Too often, managers focus on the wrong numbers. Average handle time (AHT) can be a useful metric, but it rarely tells the full story. Concentrating heavily on AHT can be detrimental to your culture, potentially resulting in your agents speeding through calls and delivering a poor experience for the customer.
If you’re using AHT as a key performance metric, it’s time to switch. Focus instead on the customer journey and experience, plus more useful measures such as satisfaction scores and first contact resolution.
- Start the day the right way
The first 30 minutes are the most important part of the day. Use this time to reinforce your culture transformation efforts: greet every agent as they arrive at the office and gauge the mood of your team. Some will be raring to go; others will need a pep talk or words of support. You’ll only be able to make a call on this by taking the time to understand their personalities and what drives them.
Once the greetings are out the way, use daily huddles to recap yesterday’s performance, assign individual and team-level goals, and provide one or two key insights that your agents can use to inform their first call of the day. Now you can back down – but make sure you’re on hand whenever your team needs your help.