Helping your call center agents break their bad habits

Faith Ocampo Published on January 6, 2017

office boss assisting employee

Bad work habits can seriously damage your team’s productivity and engagement. How can you help agents break these negative practices?

Upon spotting employees’ counterproductive habits, most managers immediately confront them and tell them off. More often, however, this isn’t enough to shake away people’s stubborn behaviors.
But why are habits so hard to break?

The human brain is wired to focus on pleasurable things. It’s all thanks to dopamine, a hormone released by the brain when we see anything associated with feelings of reward and happiness. And when it comes to our jobs, the things that give us little moments of joy are procrastinating, endless social media browsing, and basically anything that lets us dodge our responsibilities.
Practices like these have no place in productivity-focused organizations like call centers. But fact is, all your employeesโ€”whether they’re aware of it or notโ€”are guilty of a couple of these habits.
Your first impulse might be to fire your lazy or irresponsible customer support reps right away, and in some cases, that may be the right move. However, there are several things you can do to improve your staff’s work ethic and motivate them to perform well. Here are five suggestions.

1. Provide proper training.

boss training employees

Employee training should be part of your performance management initiative. Learning programs don’t just let you harness people’s skills and knowledge, they also give you an opportunity to let your staff know what’s expected of them.

This is applicable not only to new hires but also to those who have been in the company for quite a while. When you notice bad habits that slow down your operations, employees must be reminded of the importance of their role in the call center. In these cases, group-based or individual coaching sessions may be the answer.

 

2. Give regular feedback.

one on one meeting boss reading from tablet

When high performers suddenly start slipping into an unproductive phase, it could be a sign of decreasing employee engagement. Providing regular feedback to your staff can help you fix this issue. When you talk to your customer support agents about the quality of their outputs, they’d realize that every single thing they contribute to the organization matters. This helps them develop accountability and a strong work ethic.

 

3. Identify the factors that trigger their bad habits.

call center manager assistant looking at colorful post it notes

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, coined the phrase “habit loop,” which refers to the sequence of events that result to routine formation. It starts with a cue or a trigger, which tells the brain to engage in a specific behavior, followed by feelings of reward or pleasure. This cycle encourages us, though often subconsciously, to repeat certain actions.

It would help if you can identify what triggers negative habits among your customer support agents. Targeting these cues can discourage your employees from counterproductive activities.

 

4. Maintain a positive culture.

young coworkers having coffee

Your organizational culture greatly influences people’s work patterns and behavior. Make sure to emphasize the importance of employee engagement and productivity in your call center. One way to do so is to empower your people with the tools and resources they need to perform their tasks well. Also, make sure to promote work-life balance among your employees. Encourage them to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, and hold company events that would let them socialize with their colleagues.

 

5. Talk to your employees.

call center manager helping customer service agent

Talking to your employees individually will enable you to develop a good professional relationship with them. Whether your goal is to coach them on a one-on-one basis or just have a casual chat, you’ll be able to show employees that they’re an invaluable part of the organization. During these moments, be sure to ask your agents what they need for work, the challenges they face, and what you can do to help them perform better. Don’t hesitate to talk about employees’ bad habits, if any, and discuss ways to address them.

 

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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