Finish 2016 strong in the contact center by doing three key things

Hand-Rich-174By Rich Hand, RCDA Consultant

It’s almost the end of the year! There are only a few weeks left before everyone is “checked out” for the holidays. For managers in the contact center, the holidays represent a special challenge. Normal weeks of the year can be difficult to manage in a contact center, but when people start focusing on the holidays, it takes a special strategy to keep your agents engaged. Here are three key things you can do to help your contact center finish the year strong.

1. Focus/set goals

The holiday season changes focus for everyone. People start thinking about the plans they need to make, the gifts they have to buy and the in-laws (not my in-laws of course). Agent conversations start to focus on everything except work. What can we as managers do to keep the focus on the work?

The first thing is we must be aware that the lack of focus is normal. It is going to happen and is OK. There is no use in denying this fact – it is going to take more of your focus to keep your team focused.  To be sure your team stays engaged and finish strong, you must have a strategy.

The strategy should be to engage your team in ways that keeps them focused on the work. This can be done by highlighting the metrics. Depending on where you are with your current goals, there needs to be extra emphasis put on the ways the team can achieve the goals. If there is a good chance you can achieve the yearly goal, it needs to be the focus of the team. If you believe you can’t get to the goal set earlier in the year, reset to a new goal and consider focusing on individual goals helping them maximize payouts to pay for the extra expenses around the holidays. Otherwise the team may give up, and this will hurt your efforts to finish strong.

2. Incentives

Introduce a year-end incentive that brings excitement and the possibility of adding a few dollars to your agent’s bottom line. Remember, the holiday season is the most expensive time of year for most families, and extra money could be the key to helping your team achieve their goal – and yours.

The incentive must be easy to understand, create excitement, build a sense of competition, be achievable and be worthwhile. Cash is king. Gift cards to major retailers are as good as cash. The opportunity for an agent to win $100 can mean thousands of extra dollars in revenue for the contact center.

Think about the possibility of 100 agents competing for $100 prize. Generally, 100 agents represent six teams. The total investment will be $600.00. If each agent sells 20 additional accounts, you have added 2,000 additional accounts. Depending on your revenue per sale, this can be significant.

By creating an incentive, you also change the conversation in the contact center from what people are doing for the holidays to how can I win the $100 to help offset the family budget for the holidays.

3. Increased interactions with agents

The reality is, not only the agents get distracted during the holidays, but we as managers can also fall into the same practice if we are not careful. It is easy to get caught up in the “relaxation” that happens at the end of the year. It is best to include as part of your year-end strategy an increase of your floor presence.

  • Walkabouts – If you generally walk the floor every few hours, you will want to increase your interval. If you are doing the recommended practice of walking the floor with a purpose, your increased presence will demonstrate your commitment to keeping the team focused on year-end goals. By increasing the amount of time you spend walking the floor, you can coach more agents to ensure everyone is focused on the goals.
  • Side-by-side coaching – If you normally coach your agents once per week, try to increase your coaching time with the agents most at risk to impact your year-end numbers. Schedule additional time to work with agents to encourage them to work toward the holiday incentive.
  • Quick hits – During your walkabouts, pay special attention to providing follow-up coaching to any agents struggling to stay focused.
  • Daily huddles – Use the time in the daily huddle to drive home the year-end strategy. Make sure you do skill transfer sessions that focus on helping agents make the incentive. Use this time to drive urgency and communicate where the team stands against the year-end goals.

The strategy to finish strong takes discipline. If you didn’t have a floor management strategy before year’s end, it is a good time to start one. But if you follow the best practice of having a floor management strategy that includes coaching and quick hits, you can set your team up for success by increasing the activity you are already doing.

The holidays can be an awesome time for connecting with our team members and hitting our goals in the contact center. By focusing in on a year-end strategy that includes an incentive and an increased floor presence, you can be successful for the organization, help your agents to make a little extra holiday cash, and rest assured you have met your year-end goals!

To learn more about a robust floor management strategy contact Robert C. Davis and Associates, and be sure to read a recent post by my colleague RCDA Senior Consultant Vicky Egan entitled “Drive results through a disciplined floor management and coaching strategy.”

Good luck and Happy Holidays!