When quality monitoring schemes are introduced in contact centers, agents’ reactions are rarely positive: “This is just another way for the bosses to withhold our salaries.” “More numbers for the bosses to make our lives miserable with.” “Why do we have to speak and write according to these stupid templates and rules?”
For the supervisors, trying to implement the quality monitoring scheme in the face of such complaints becomes an uphill task. Supervisors find themselves unable to face the prospect of hostile feedback sessions with agents who were, in many cases, their co-workers and colleagues until they were promoted. Without the supervisors doing the vital work of evaluating and giving feedback to the team, the quality process will grind to a halt and call content will not improve.
This is the classic change management scenario, but transferred into the contact center setting. The answer to this issue is also the classic way to manage change, don’t order it, impose it or decree it. Sell it!
When you start a sales conversation with a customer, you start with a short introduction of what your conversation is about. It’s a good idea to have the change announced by the most senior member of the company that is available. This is a very visible way to show everyone how seriously the company takes the project.
The next step is to give the agents the chance to react. Their reactions will probably not be positive, but they will give the agents the chance to express their views immediately and get them out into the open. They will give you, the person “selling” the new program, an insight into their “objections” which you will need to overcome. You may find that agents start asking questions. Questions are a “buying signal”, they show that the agents are engaged with the idea. They are starting to imagine what it will be like working in the contact center after the change has been made.
It is a very good idea to analyze their reactions and tailor elements of your presentation to answer agents’ objections and questions. Where possible, emphasize the benefits of the new way of working to them. If calls are going to be recorded, tell agents that this will be for their protection, since if any customer accuses an agent of lying, they can now check the call and conclusively prove to the customer that this was not the case. There may be some questions you cannot answer, either because you have to trial the program to see what will happen, or alternatively because you are waiting for decisions from other parts of the organization. To retain the trust of your “customers”, the agents, be as transparent about this as possible. Good decisions do not need to be supported by lies. At this point, it also helps to get the agents involved in the transition process by asking for their feedback. There is nothing wrong with promising that adjustments will be made as a result of their feedback, but never give your staff the idea that their feedback can lead to the cancellation of the project.
Once the “go live” date has been reached, don’t stop engaging with your staff. Ask them for feedback once it has started and involve them in review meetings. Follow up is vital, not only for the agents, but also the supervisors, whose workload has probably been increased and who now find their roles have become more confrontational as they hold their agents to account more often. In many cases, this will be the first time they have found themselves in such a situation and they may either not raise the issue at all or act aggressively to their agents unless they are supported properly. At this point, supervisors will need additional support as they learn how to really lead their agents and drive performance, in many cases, for the first time in their lives.
A lot of effort goes into getting the technology right when introducing quality programs, but often getting the people right will have an equivalent, if not greater impact.