3 Ideas to Help Customer Service Employees Work Through Burnout

Stressful day at work

The twentieth of May marks 16 years that I’ve been in business for myself, doing the things I’ve dreamt about, the things I love – training, writing, designing curriculum. I love where I am and what I do; yet recently I have experienced burnout.

Guilt was my first response to burnout. How dare I feel bored, dis-interested and un-creative. So many people would be happy to be where I am; I should be grateful. I’m my own boss. A typical workday for me includes dining at a highly recommended local restaurant, perhaps a walking tour of a historic city in the south, shopping for shoes in Toronto’s fashion district or meeting beautiful spirited Native Americans in Milbank, South Dakota. All this is after a well-received training session or keynote.

I am grateful, actually, and yet, I was experiencing burnout. I wonder if your employees have ever been where I am just now emerging from – the brink of burnout. Maybe you, too, have felt un-motivated at work. I’ve addressed, really still addressing, my burnout by doing 3 things. These 3 things, I believe, can help your employees (or you), out of a rut when they feel burned out or simply un-motivated.

1. Don’t allow customer service employees to spend more than 80% of their time on the phones

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How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees

Espresso for Writing

 

I’m sitting in my office sipping bold Ethiopian espresso, my favorite, and doing a run-through for this week’s big training event. The big event? We’re calling it:

“How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees.”

If you’re a Member of my Full Access program or you registered for this event, your handouts were sent to you last night, so be sure to check your email for the packet.

It’s a fact. Most managers don’t give employees the constructive feedback they need in order to develop and grow. Some managers shy away from conflict. Perhaps they hope the problem will correct itself.

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Many fear getting a difficult to handle response from the employee. We never want to admit it, but some managers want to be “friends” with their employees and this “friendship” keeps them from the giving the constructive feedback their employees need. And then there are those who just wait until the annual performance review to lay it all on the employee.

Why are managers so ineffective when it comes to giving constructive feedback?

It’s simple really. Managers never learned exactly how to assertively address unacceptable performance. And let’s face it; giving constructive feedback about a person’s performance can be a little intimidating.

Join me for a 60-minute discussion on Wednesday, February 10th at 1:05pm ET where I’ll share:

  • 4 Pain points of coaching agents and how to handle them.
  • The Manager-Tested-and-Proven 6-Step Strategy for Addressing Unacceptable Employee Performance that Myra has taught managers in Fortune 100 companies, contact centers, government agencies, school systems, a spa and a plumbing company.
  • How to avoid sounding critical and nitpicky, yet still get your point across.
  • 3 Keys for coaching underperforming employees.
  • Special take-away packet: A powerful 9-step coaching strategy for coaching calls in contact centers. +++ Get a sneak peak at Zappos monitoring form.
  • How to get employees to take ownership for performance improvement using a super-simple 4-step Coaching Through Questioning technique.
  • 3 Techniques everyone who coaches contact center agents should be using.
  • Myra’s KFD principle for how to fully prepare for constructive feedback discussions with employees. Using this principle, you’ll be prepared and confident!
  • A 2-minute exercise that you can do at your desk that will instantly boost your confidence by boosting your testosterone levels (this works for women too) and lower your cortisol (stress hormone). Do this quick exercise right before having high-stakes conversations and you’ll have the confidence of Olivia Pope.

Sneak Peak at what we’ll cover in “How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Employees.”

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After our discussion I will give you:

  • Full webinar digital recording
  • Unlimited viewing within your organization with no expiration
  • Rights to download and save webinar video
  • Rights to incorporate webinar within your Learning Management System (LMS)

How to Solve the Biggest Problems with Coaching Agents

February 10th, 1:05pm – 2:05pm ET     $299 per organization

Register now

Motivate Your Employees Like Fans Motivate Their Sports Teams

Operator woman talking on headset at work

Managers can learn much about praise from the sports industry. Critical to the success of any sports or corporate team is praise. Here’s how coaches and fans motivate athletes and (and what you can learn from them!):

Cheer your team.

Perhaps professional athletes would play simply for the money, but can you imagine a basketball game with no fans and no roaring cheers? It wouldn’t be the same without the fans. The cheering of fans energizes athletes. Fans cheer to motivate, encourage and show support for their teams.  Athletes, like your employees, are motivated by both money and praise. Never assume money alone is going to motivate and keep employees.

Praise progress, not just results.

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The Psychology of Employee Motivation

Motivating Employees

Abraham Maslow developed the concept of the Hierarchy of Needs and it has been extensively applied to managerial situations. Maslow suggests that people are motivated by 5 levels of needs and higher level needs do not motivate until lower level needs are met. That is, if the need for adequate money is not met, even the most creative employee rewards program cannot motivate employees. Take a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and think about where your employees are today and determine what you’ll need to do next.

  • Physiological Needs

    The lowest and most basic needs in the workplace, and in life in general, are physiological needs. Physiological needs are usually associated with money; that is, people use money to satisfy basic motivations. If a person’s physiological (financial) needs are not met, higher level needs are relatively unimportant. If employees don’t earn enough money to comfortably meet basic financial needs such as rent, healthcare, etc., it is difficult to focus on creating value in the workplace Are your employees consumed with the salary issue? If so, conduct market research to ensure your salary is competitive and fair.

  •  Safety Needs

    Safety and security needs in the workplace involves job security factors. This doesn’t mean that employees need assurance of lifetime employment, but rather that reasonable precautions are being taken to minimize risks. (Of course, in today’s economy there are no guarantees.) You can meet employees’ needs on this level by keeping them informed of the company’s health and financial position and keeping them in the loop on all company matters that affect them.

  • Social Needs

    Not surprisingly, most people are concerned about their social relationships and want to belong and be accepted by others. Managers must expect that employees will want to satisfy the need for social relationships on the job. If the satisfaction of social needs is hindered, employees may become apathetic, uncooperative, and even aggressive toward the manager. Years ago I brought in a consultant to my call center who told me that one of the biggest problems facing my group was that they did not have the opportunity to meet their social needs (on the job). I had to learn to provide opportunities for socialization through staff meetings, employee luncheons and even venting with one another between calls.

  • Esteem or Ego Needs

    Esteem needs relate to individuals’ achieving the confidence and respect they desire in themselves and want to be recognized by others. These needs include the desire for recognition, promotion, achievement and accomplishment. Failure to meet these needs can result in apathetic behavior and substandard work.

 

  • Self-Actualization or Self Realization Needs

    The highest level of needs in Maslow’s hierarchy involves the development of full potential. Self actualized people want to use their capabilities to the fullest and continue to grow. We all have the need to express our full potential in life and in our work, but according to Maslow, most people don’t become fully self-actualized because they expend their energy trying to meet the lower level needs. In order to help your employees express their full potential, you must first create an atmosphere that supports the first 4 basic needs.

Employees are motivated by needs that are not satisfied. In other words, it is what employees are seeking that is motivational, not what they already have. As lower level needs are satisfied (physiological/financial and safety/a sense of job security, etc.) they retain less motivational value in an individual’s behavior. Once a level of needs is satisfied, you must move to the next level in order to truly motivate your employees.

 

Now you can get even more ideas for motivating employees, specifically how to motivate employees working in customer service. Join me for my 60-minute webinar, How to Motivate Customer Service Employees. It’s loaded with practical ideas to resist burnout and fire-up customer service employees. Attend live or watch the recording, which is available 4-hours after the live event.

Myra Golden is a consultant and keynote speaker who has been helping companies for over twenty years to improve employee relations through her work with Human Resource Departments. Myra has a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, helping her to understand the challenges of Human Resources as it relates to the psychology of the employees. She is also a veteran customer service expert who specializes in engaging employees through live training and online learning.

Motivating Agents and Increasing Call Center Productivity

Using Incentives in the Contact Center: 5 Tips for Success

Employee incentives run the gamut from ball point pens to retirement funds. They include bonuses, benefits, perks, and anything else aimed at motivating agents to take a job at your contact center and to stay there. The idea behind these incentives is to keep agents on a track of continuous improvement and to reward them for succeeding.

So often we think that the only perks people want are more pay and then some bonus money on top of that. But that’s not necessarily true. Many contact center employees are motivated to attain additional skills and knowledge so they can look forward to the prospect of promotion or job enhancement.

We’ve seen many studies that aim to discover which incentives are most important to agents—and all have different results! Here, without ranking, are the most frequently cited incentives:

  1. Opportunities for promotion
  2. Additional training and education
  3. Recognition for hard work
  4. Better pay
  5. Better work environment and working conditions
  6. Job security
  7. Bonus/commission
  8. Employer contribution to retirement plan

Following are five tips to keep in mind when you’re creating a new incentive program or overhauling an existing one.

#1 Make sure the goals are achievable. Many incentive programs revolve around some goal associated with productivity or quality. In order for a program to be a success, it’s essential for the goal to be within reach of the agents. Set the bar high but not impossibly high. Remember, you want people to win. If the goals are set too high, people will lose heart and stop trying. What’s worse, they’ll feel like failures when in fact they may have made great progress from where they started.

#2 Let agents choose their own incentives. The simplest way to make sure your agents will like the perks and rewards given to them is to ask them beforehand what they want. You can include a question on an employee satisfaction survey or find some other way to get agents to identify what rewards would be most meaningful to them. Chances are you’ll get a variety of responses. Keep track of who wants what, and, when it’s time, reward them accordingly.

#3 Make it enjoyable. To really get agents rallied around a goal, you have to do more than just give them a goal and then say, “OK, go out and reach it.” It’s equally important for the process of reaching the goal to be fulfilling for agents. This doesn’t necessarily mean that at every moment the environment has to be jovial, but agents should at least feel that they’re enjoying the challenge.

One way to accomplish this is to celebrate small successes along the way. Another is to continually remind agents of the progress they’re making, the learning they’re accomplishing, the professional or personal growth they’re achieving, and so on.

#4 Use incentives at crucial times. Incentives can be used any time but there are certain situations in which an incentive program is especially timely in the center. Following are a few examples:

  • At the end of training, offer incentives to agents to start using their newly acquired skills.
  • When a major change occurs, use an incentive program to encourage agents to embrace the change and to make a smooth transition.
  • When morale is low, try an incentive program to inject some renewed energy and enthusiasm into the team.
  • At the launch of a new product or project, incentives can help rally the team.

#5 Avoid overkill. Can you do too much? Yes, overkill is possible. Don’t feel that you have to have an incentive program running at every hour of every day. You’ll be exhausted and your agents will be too. People can’t work at their peak at all times.

For more information about improving morale and productivity in your organization, give Impact Learning Systems a call at 800-545-9003 or visit us on the Web at http://www.impactlearning.com.