Every agent and manager would do well to manage all of their relationships, especially their customer relationships, to the highest standards. To develop and maintain a center culture of professional etiquette requires dedicated and consistent modeling from leadership, to start. So, it begins with you, the supervisor.
What do you do when you make a mistake?
Do you deflect it, or dodge it?
If you dodge it, as a supervisor, is that the posture you want your agents to take in similar circumstances?
Look, managing relationships in your call center is a dynamic way of work. Relationships are managed from every angle you can imagine. Up, down, laterally: they all take energy. When energy levels are high, perhaps the best of what people have to give shines through their interpersonal conduct.
But, what happens when overworked agents and managers are tired?
Mistakes happen, huh?
Everyone is an expert player in the blame game.
Instead of encouraging an antagonistic culture of blame games, train your staff on how to manage their relationships, especially when they are suffering from fatigue.
Use These Tactics To Help...
Respond, Don’t React
It is easy to lose focus when fatigue sets up camp. When focus is lost, mistakes are made. Training your call center staff to become aware of their states of being before each of them does or says anything reactive is a place to start. When identified, an agent can pause and respond to an antagonistic customer or colleague, rather than react. By the use of the word ‘react,’ what is meant is that a quick reply is given that seems to have been unanticipated, as to catch an agent off-guard and for him or her to reply unprofessionally and/or disrespectfully to a customer. If the agent is trained to respond, the agent will be able to reply professionally, even when exhausted. Professional responses go along way in call centers to keep them performing consistently, constructively and productively.
Taking responsibility for your conduct is the best way to wrangle mistakes. When you mess up, own it. Don’t waste valuable time and resources. Enough of that is invested in the education of the mistake. Cut your losses, learn, and live to fight another day. Expect ownership of conduct from yourself and your staff. When your agents make mistakes with customers, insist that they own their mistakes, as well. Train them to apologize, uphold the slogan, “the customer’s always right,” and get on with solving customer problems by re-establishing rapport and trust.
If your agents are on the phones with customers who have problems, make sure the agents are endowed with enough information to provide solutions. Train them to focus on solutions with logic and reason, while being empathetic and listening. Nothing is more frustrating to customers, agents and managers for the problem-solving process to be bogged down by incompetence, due to the lack of information and the authority to use it. If necessary, provide scripts or written solutions for the more challenging problems so that the agents are prepared. For example, a simple way to discover what solution is expected by your customer is for the agent to ask the customer directly, “What would you like to see happen?” In short, disseminate enough information to your agents and managers to make quick repairs to the problems that threaten to terminate the relationships you have with your customers.
Fatigue, incompetence or both affect relationships every day, whether it’s realized or not. Training your agents and managers to be aware of their states of mind when working together or serving customers will serve them well. Responding to each other with professional manners and discourse encourages a safe and productive center.
When a culture of kindness and respect is established, mistakes can be more easily forgiven. Mistakes are a given. How much better off is your call center when the consequences from those mistakes are minimized? Supporting your staff with an autonomous, informative approach will equip them to build and maintain productive relationships in your call center.
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To your success,