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:
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.
Pure opened its doors for the first time 5 months ago and it’s gone by in a flash; time really does fly when you’re having fun! And it has been fun; we’ve been blessed with some great new clients and candidates and are loving the balance that being our own bosses has given us.
What we have noticed however is just how much of a candidate led market it continues to be and how hard our clients are having to work to find the perfect match and secure that candidate. Recruitment has never been easy, but more than ever we are seeing candidates being snapped up in super-quick time, meaning we have had to change the way we approach sourcing, pre-screening and interviewing this new generation of candidate who simply won’t put up with a long, drawn out process. Welcome Generation-Z!
I remember when I finished my A-levels, all those many years ago and it was time to find a temp job to tide me over before I went travelling. In those days, (although we were using PCs - the ones with the massive, bulky monitors and first editions of Windows) email and mobile phones were relatively new technology to the masses, so I duly printed my CV and hand delivered it to all the recruitment agencies around Bristol City Centre.
After a few days (days!) I got a call and after going into the agency’s branch, completing a ton of paper forms and undertaking an hours’ worth of computer-based assessments, I found myself on a two-week placement at Prudential. My job.... to index and computerise thousands upon thousands of customer paper records and then file each record into boxes to be taken to storage. This job simply wouldn’t exist these days. Fast forward a few (ahem!) years and I now own my own agency and we are welcoming the next generation of workers through our doors. Millennials are now all grown up and Generation-Z or “I-gen” are next in line.
Generation-Z, who have been born since 1995, have never known a world without the internet and email. Imagine that?! From birth, they have been connected to the entire world (hence them also being coined the first real “Global Generation”) and can’t imagine life without smart phones; no longer just mobile phones, but mobile lifelines – their entire worlds held in the palm of their hands. They get instant updates and instant messaging – everything is in the moment and they are constantly connected 24/7, 365 days a year. For me, FaceTime and Skype still blow my mind, it’s like living in some sort of Star Trek future, but these young adults see this as a perfectly normal means of communication.... and us recruiters and employers need to keep up, if we have any chance of securing the best talent.
I often think back to how it was when I was a teenager. The idea that there would be people employed in businesses with the sole purpose of updating an electronic stream of pictures and chat or communicating with customers via text messaging would never have occurred to me. Now WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter are the norm (even I dealt with an issue with my TV provider entirely by text messaging recently!) and Generation-Z will no doubt be operating on platforms in the future that haven’t even been invented yet. As the ultimate multi-taskers (who has teenage kids who can simultaneously play their Xbox, talk to a fellow gamer in China via a headset, chat with their mates via WhatsApp and tell their mum they heard them the first time they were asked to come down for tea?) I-Gen will likely be less focused in their approach, but these types of roles are highly attractive to Gen-Z, who enjoy the fast paced, omni-channel experience where they can operate utilising the latest tech, whilst also Instant Messaging their mates about their weekend plans, without fear of reprimand.
Gen-Z will be entering the workplace earlier than previous generations, with I-Gen teenagers choosing work over further education and often crippling debt that sadly these days comes hand in hand with university. They know they can continue to learn via online courses and less traditional forms of education, which free them up to follow their career dreams... 72% of this entrepreneurial generation say they want to run their own business in the future.
Getting back to recruiting this new generation for a minute, I can’t remember the last time I was hand delivered a CV. This generation want to apply instantly to jobs online (using their Smart Phones and Apps) and they want the option of video interviewing for vacancies; vacancies which could be based anywhere around the world. Afterall, surgeons can now operate on people on the other side of the planet via a robot. Scary, but true!
Generation-Z will look to technology to aid them in their search for work and expect it to be fast and efficient when they get there. They want to communicate with their colleagues and managers instantly, not at a monthly one to one. They will need instant feedback and support and want to work with leaders who embrace this. Gen-Z are likely less focused; they have always lived in a world of instant updates, therefore in the workplace they need to know how they are doing almost instantaneously. Furthermore, in the recruitment industry, we are seeing more and more people wanting and needing the flexibility of home-working, and those forward thinking employers are embracing this and looking at solutions to move away from rigid working patterns, that tie employees to their desks.
Gen-Z are also much more socially and ecologically conscious than previous generations. They know the damage that has been done to the planet by previous generations and are set on putting it right. Employers with a great socio/eco message will be attractive to this generation and we all have a responsibility to this planet and to future generations, after all.
So, in summary, to make your business attractive to Gen-Z you should aim to advertise how great your tech is, how varied your roles are and how socio-ecologically responsible your organisation is. You should make the recruitment process fast and efficient and where possible embrace remote interviewing via video calls. Timely feedback to candidates is also of utmost importance, to protect your brand reputation and ensure candidates get a great recruitment experience. If they don’t, they’ll be sure to let the world know! If your business can support it, home-working to allow work / life balance is highly attractive, as are less rigid contracted hours and “big-brother” style management – embrace their fast learning styles and entrepreneurial spirit for what it is and what it can add to your business. Offer regular feedback sessions, with a hands-on management structure and an open-door policy and you will have it nailed.
And finally – don’t’ expect them to leave their smart phones at the door!
After weeks of appointments, several trips to Ikea, lots of obsessing over how our website will look and the dreaded photoshoot – we are elated to say that pure recruitment is open for business! Hooray!
With more than 25 years’ experience in recruitment, working in corporate PLCs and independent agencies, we couldn’t be more proud to take the leap of faith and start our own boutique recruitment agency. Although understandably daunting, with lots to learn about running our own business, (apparently VAT is added to everything!) we are confident our genuine passion for recruitment and customer service will make the headache of tax returns worthwhile.
We have spent the last week in our office preparing to open our doors and already learned more about each other in that short time than in the last six years of working together. Katie likes Radio 2 and I like Kiss FM. Katie can assemble IKEA furniture, I can’t even hold a hammer. I know how to use all things social media, Katie wasn’t sure where to find the monkey emoji! Seriously? Who doesn’t have the monkey emoji in their most recently used emojis? 🙈🙉
These are just a few of the many, many things that make us completely different personalities but which make us work really well together and that will make pure recruitment work for our clients. Despite our differences, the one thing we wholeheartedly agree on is how the recruitment process should look and what great customer service looks like. We are so excited to be able to offer a flexible and transparent recruitment process to our clients, who we can partner from start to finish.
Many people describe recruitment as an emotional roller-coaster; it is but we aren’t ready to get off yet, so are firmly fastening our seatbelts.
Wish us luck!