Maintaining Agent Engagement During Times of Stress
When agents come across as unhappy or unengaged, customers are the first to take notice. Sincerity isn’t something that can be faked. When customers feel as though their questions and concerns are being dismissed seriously by the person on the other end of the conversation, they often think “This person must just be having a bad day.”
As businesses around the world have adjusted to remote operations, many agents have struggled with day-to-day engagement. Particularly those for whom the transition to working from home came quickly and unexpectedly.
Here are five tips designed to keep agents engaged during times of stress and difficulty.
- Address the Issue
Burnout and low engagement are not necessarily problems that will fix themselves given the right amount of time. Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of us can predict when things will return to normal. Or what that sense of ‘normal’ will even look like. The prolonged nature of the pandemic has been difficult for all of us, and ignoring the problem while hoping for the best does a disservice to your agents struggling with mental health and burnout issues.
Leaders sharing resources, or scheduling discussions to address the issues of burnout and low engagement may seem like simple solutions, but they do send an important message to struggling agents and employees. Understanding that the people at the top genuinely care about their mental well-being can make a huge difference to the overall health of a company’s culture.
- Listen to Your Team Members
Communication is not a one-way street. Broadly sharing tools and resources across the workforce only address part of the problem. The second half of the solution involves offering a space for individuals to express individual concerns.
When setting up a program for your team, be sure to start with the people for whom the program is explicitly designed. Take stock of the needs and concerns of the workforce. Listen to what they may desire from a robust mental health program. Is your company set up to provide the appropriate solutions to the specific problems they may be struggling with?
- Enable the Right Technology
Technology is constantly evolving. Is your business keeping up? At this stage in the pandemic, there is little reason for a business to not utilize remote communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. Communication platforms such as these serve as a reminder to your agents that even if they are working currently remotely, they are not working in a vacuum.
Don’t start investing in new technology without fully understanding the ins and outs. Be sure to research your platforms to utilize all that they are capable of and make sure that the platforms employed by your business are fully complementary with one another. And above all else, let your workforce in on the decisions. Allow them to express their thoughts on whether or not new platforms will be able provide them the solutions they are looking for.
- Create a Community
Feelings of isolation are common for those of us who work from home. Especially those who once sat in a bustling office, remote environments can be shocking. If and when these workers are sent back to the office, or hybrid model, adapting starts all over again. Every person needs a community, a place to find belonging – whether that is in a brick-and-mortar, or in a virtual environment.
This is something we have carefully innovated over the last two decades at Liveops. Liveops Nation is a virtual networking platform that serves as a hub for agents to connect personally and professionally. Agents are encouraged to take part in forums and message boards that speak to topics they are interested in.
The agent forums are designed to provide agents with a space in which they can achieve a deeper sense of belonging among their peers and a greater understanding of their shared experiences. These boards are also self-moderated, giving agents the power to speak freely and flag content they determine as inappropriate on their own terms.
Whatever meets the needs of your business model, ensure you are fostering an inclusive place for agents to meet.
- Nurture and Cultivate
Investing in a community among agents is not a “set it and forget it” solution. Projects such as the ones listed above require continued monitoring in order to determine what needs optimization and improvement.
At Liveops, we understand the industry is continually evolving. We continue to optimize the agent experience, ensuring we are innovating and evolving alongside industry trends and agent needs.