Could your call center do with a morale boost these days? You’re not alone! Working as a call center manager is not an easy job - not by a long shot. You’re juggling multiple compliance rules and regulations, keeping your eye on your center’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and managing human beings - which makes the idea of herding cats sound easy.
No wonder there are so many call center memes out there! [WARNING: Once you start looking, it’s going to be really hard to stop!]
It’s no surprise that keeping your team’s morale high is a challenge. The typical call center experiences rather high turnover rates, around 30-45%, in fact. That churn rate usually stems from stress; it’s a job that can easily feel like being in a pressure cooker. Long hours of “peopling” can really take a toll - especially when there are quotas to make, call center politics to navigate, and repeated rejections to shrug off all day long.
So, we wanted to put together as big a list of morale boosting tips for you as we could. After all, we’ve been in the trenches with you - and we work side-by-side with call center managers just like you. Passing on some helpful tips is the least we can do
#1: Encourage them to move around.
Agents work long hours. Most of that time is spent sitting - maybe a swivel here or there, but mostly just in the same position all day long. Anyone who’s been on the internet more than 17 seconds knows all that sitting is not good for the body - or the mind. Do your agents feel tethered to their chairs? What can you do to create more freedom to move around?
#2: Make a difference as a team.
Find a non-work-related charity or cause that everyone can get behind. Look for ways you could add a fundraising element to the workday to give your whole team an added incentive to work together. It doesn’t have to be a sales-related goal; you could incentivize any behavior you’d like to see more of in your center.
#3: Lunch and learn for tasty training.
There’s always more to learn in a job like this. Why not schedule a monthly training during lunch. You could bring in an outside trainer or have in-house teams present to the group.
After all, there’s no better way to learn than to teach. Don’t be afraid to reward people who volunteer to step up!
#4: Give agents as much freedom as you can.
The phones never stop, and there’s always another call to make or take - but one of the worst feelings your agents may battle is that of feeling stuck or even trapped. As much as possible, give them some wiggle room. For example, getting up to make coffee or walking around when needed.
#5: Make your call center a treat for the eyes.
A little bit of interior decorating can go a long way toward transforming an endless bank of phones into a space that welcomes actual humans to spend time there. Clean and attractive environments are less stressful than unloved-looking places jammed with equipment.
#6: Upgrade your break room.
Make it an oasis where your agents can truly relax. Just having a few minutes of diversion can make a huge difference in agent morale. By making breaks more rejuvenating, you can help your agents make the most of their time on the phones.
#7: What’s in your vending machines?
Why not ask your team what they’d like in there? Some might rather have healthier alternatives instead of the standard cheese crackers. Others might fight you tooth and nail to keep those Snickers bars in stock.
Again, having a feeling of control can do wonders for the human spirit.
#8: Look for ways to build variety into the week.
Humans thrive on a balanced experience of predictability and surprise. Drudgery melts when there’s always something different to look forward to throughout the week. Be on the lookout for ways to add color to days that would naturally fade to gray otherwise.
#9: Everyone loves a treat.
What kind of treats could you bring in now and then that wouldn’t cost a fortune but would give everyone a little extra enjoyment? Popsicles, hot pretzels, movie tickets, funny sunglasses - just use your imagination.
#10: Encourage your agents to build their own “soundtrack of awesome.”
Music is a huge mood-lifter. Everyone’s got songs that make them feel like superheroes who can tackle seemingly-impossible challenges. Do what you can to put the power of tunes to work raising morale.
It may take a conscious effort to lead the way with a genuine smile - but you’ll see how contagious putting some happy on your face can be. There’s all kinds of scientific evidence for the mood-boosting effects of smiling.
#12: Create a team tasked with planning fun.
You’re probably picturing Angela and Phyllis from “The Office” right now, aren’t you?
Might want to make sure the members of the team rotate to avoid the pitfalls - but you’ll also find that it’s not hard to find people who’d love to bring a little more fun into your workspace.
#13: Themed days might become a quick favorite.
Hey, it was fun as kids! No reason you couldn’t have a week of themed days now and then. Sports jerseys, fifties, tie-dye, twins, just remember back to high school spirit week for inspiration.
#14: Got a spot? Use it.
If you’ve got a designated parking spot, you can bet your team members kind of wish they had it. If you run competitions at work, you could make your spot a prize - they win, they park there for a week. The same goes for any other perk you could easily transfer on a temporary basis. Bonus - it won’t even cost a penny.
#15: Ask… and listen.
Some work environments are so keyed into positive thinking that there’s almost a sense of danger for anyone who points out a problem that’s holding the team back.
You might want to read a book called Illuminate by David Corbin to see how you could more effectively address legitimate gripes and decrease turnover.
#16: Anyone want to go for a walk?
If your call center’s location permits, why not build a walking path or even a fitness course on the grounds so your agents can get a quick, brisk walk in during a break or at lunch. You could even set up walking teams and encourage a little competition.
#17: Avoid mandatory fun.
For most employees, when they’re off the clock, the idea of having to go back to work - or stay late - for any kind of social function is less than appealing. While you build more fun into your call center agent’s work experience, be careful not to force it or to make them do it on their own time.
#18: Carve a path for advancement.
Nobody wants to work the phones all day, every day for the rest of their working lives. For many, just knowing there's a path ahead for them is a huge morale booster.
Make sure your call center has room for advancement and provide promising agents with training so they can move up and stay engaged.
#19: Look for reasons to celebrate.
Birthdays and work anniversaries are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start looking for opportunities to celebrate life’s wins with your agents, you’ll discover that the options are endless.
#20: Train well, train often.
The better they know, the better they do, and the happier they are. Everyone wants to be on a winning team, after all. Don’t skimp on ongoing training for your team - especially for your best performers.
#21: Huddle up before getting to work.
Think about how you could spend a couple of minutes before every shift to encourage your team, make them laugh, and help to build a cooperative and happy environment.
Could you play a game, issue a challenge, or play a song that gets everyone going?
#22: Fire wisely.
Ideally, you’ll only ever hire and invest in agents who are a great fit for your team, who get stellar results month after month, and who stay with you for the long term. Of course, that’s not how it always goes in real life. Don’t keep employees longer than it makes sense to keep them. If it’s not a fit, you’ll do them - and your team - no favors by prolonging a bad situation.
#23: Consider alternative KPIs to celebrate.
Don’t just settle for rewarding and celebrating any one particular KPI - it may not be the most telling metric for agent success. Take a look at other metrics and how they tell the story of what’s going great in your call center. No doubt, there are some you could turn into some fun acknowledgments of your agents’ efforts.
#24: Praise publicly, reprimand privately.
Keep your agents’ dignity as a top priority, always. Don’t be stingy with the praise whenever you see an opportunity to give it genuinely.
But whenever you need to redirect or correct or otherwise reprimand an employee, make sure you do so in a way that protects their privacy.
#25: Upgrade your equipment as often as possible.
Newer isn’t always better - but it usually is! As quickly as technology is advancing these days, every new iteration of equipment and software that comes out is nearly guaranteed to be a vast improvement over the last version. Especially if your agents include a lot of Millennials, an upgrade can produce an instant morale boost.
#26: Promote from within, whenever possible.
Change isn’t usually easy - and it can be even more challenging when the change comes in the form of a new supervisor… especially if it’s someone outside of the organization. Make it a priority to train promising agents for their next role. It’s a good way to demonstrate your commitment to your team while rewarding their improvements and showing everyone that there is a future for them, if they’ll put in the work to grow.
#27: Focus on flexibility where it makes sense.
In some call centers, the biggest complaint is a feeling of being nothing more than a number. Your agents are individuals, of course, not robots. The more liberty you can create - while still getting the results you need - the better. If there’s room for a well-trained agent to deviate from the script and succeed, great. If it works well for employees to swap shifts sometimes, great. Don’t get so hung up on uniformity that your team feels stifled. But don’t go too far… find a balance that lets everyone win.
#28: Become a student of human nature.
The more you understand about personality types and what makes people tick, the better you can lead your own team. Invest in your own training and education so you grow as a leader continually.
#29: Give them the power to solve problems - and the backdoor to escalate a call.
There’s no worse feeling than being on the phone and not knowing how to do right by the person on the other end of the line. Although knowing how to fix a problem and not having the authorization to do so is a close second. As much as possible, empower your agents to handle difficult calls the way they think best.
#30: Staff your team appropriately.
Most businesses have times throughout the year that are really busy, and others that are pretty slow.
Don’t expect your understaffed team to handle the kind of volume that really needs more agents. They’ll be stressed, less likely to rest during breaks, and they’ll burn out.
#31: Never point to a poster.
You know the ones, with the motivational quote and a picture of a river or mountain. If you must hang “inspiring” posters on your call center’s walls, let them just hang there. Never, ever, ever use them in a corrective conversation - unless the outcome you’re looking for is rage.
#32: Never eat your lunch alone.
Take that time to get to know your team members on an individual level. Find a way to either take employees out to lunch or to eat with them in-house on a regular basis. Keep rotating, though, don’t form a clique.
#33: Help your agents learn to set goals for themselves.
There’s no shortage of goal-setting processes. Find one you like and teach your people. Encourage your team to set their own goals and to report their progress to you.
They more aware they become of the results they’re creating, the more empowered they’ll become to motivate themselves.
#34: Don’t skimp on the gratitude.
Everyone likes to know their efforts are appreciated. It’s all too easy to forget to say “thank you” when an employee does their job - but if you can ingrain that habit into how you show up, you’ll see that it works a bit like grease in a machine. Appreciation, regularly shown, can make your call center a much more pleasant place to work.
#35: Watch for the signs of burnout.
Just like with a campfire, it’s easier to stoke the flames when they’re starting to fade rather than to wait until they extinguish themselves. You could even ask your agents (during those lunches!) what signals they’ve reached the point of overwhelm or burnout. When you see these signs, have a conversation, listen, and see how you can help reignite their enthusiasm.
#36: Put a headset on, regularly.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take or make a few calls yourself each day. You’ll stay better connected to your team’s experience and find out first-hand where there’s room for improvement.
#37: Give them the best possible leads and inbound calls.
The better you can set your team up to win, the more they WILL win. You can’t expect them to convert calls and leads that are indifferent, after all. But when you get them on the phone with people who truly want to do business, it’s an entirely different game. Upgrade your lead and call source as needed. Truly high-quality leads and calls are worth every penny because they convert better and more often - and that’s a huge morale boost that also makes your company more money.
Hey, we hope this list has given you some new ideas for making your call center a workplace your agents actually love. The job ahead of you isn’t an easy one - but when you do it well, you have the opportunity to impact so many other people. Your team can do meaningful work that they’re good at doing. Your customers can experience the best service they’ve ever had. Your company can excel and grow, and reward the employees who make that growth possible.
If we can help you with that last item on the list, getting your agents on more calls with people who are eager to buy, let’s make that happen. The first step is a conversation with our team - and from there it’s easy for you to run a test and then go full steam ahead… we can get you as many calls and leads as you can handle.
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