Janine Lazarus talks about the positive results obtained from good motivational practices in the Call Centre (CC) industry.
by Janine Lazarus
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janine Lazarus, the founder of Janine Lazarus Media Consultancy, has 24 years of experience in the South African and African media and communications environment. She uses her years as a hard news journalist, presenter, talk-show host and cutting-edge communications trainer to put together customised training programmes. Contact:
Towards the end of last year, I was in the process of facilitating a CC training programme for a group of delegates in the banking industry when an agent put up her hand to make what she considered a valid point. ‘Well, I think …’ she began before being rudely interrupted by her supervisor. ‘You’re not paid to think,’ the supervisor said bluntly. ‘You’re paid to make phone calls.’ There was nervous laughter from some of the other agents taking part in the workshop but the reprimand had its desired effect. From then on no-one dared venture an opinion. It is precisely this type of scenario that makes the agents who service South Africa’s call centres feel like they are at the lower end of the food chain. Why should an agent go the extra mile if their creativity is not only discouraged but shot down in flames?
Motivation within a Call Centre environment is a difficult concept to define but a caller can easily tell the difference between a motivated, energised agent and a demotivated individual who comes across as if he is doing his customer a favour by answering the phone. If we accept that an agent’s performance ability is greatly multiplied by the magic that is motivation, then we can understand why an agent can double call generation in half the time when she’s in a the right mood but produce exactly the opposite when she’s in the wrong frame of mind.
Facilitating practical CC training workshops across a host of different industries has led me to conclude that managers in call-centric environments must have the ability to deal with people on an individual basis whether they are in charge of a handful of agents or a 300-strong team. Uncomfortable as it may be to accept, the influence of a supervisor and their supervision style on agents can be a major source of demotivation as can the physical surroundings in which they work. It’s critical from a manager’s perspective to find out what makes their team tick and then try and create the kind of environment which encourages employees to perform at their best.