Six Tips to Motivate Your Agents for Maximum Customer Satisfaction

“Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate.” – Vince Lombardi, five-time NFL championship-winning coach

Motivation has been a topic of discussion for centuries. Everyone from classical poets to professional athletes and coaches, have offered pithy comments and recommendations. Perhaps the reason there is so much focus on motivation is because it is so necessary for success—and because there are so many variables. Everyone needs motivation in some way, and motivation is especially important in customer-facing roles. It can be difficult to interact with people day in and day out—you never know what you’re going to face in the next interaction. Is the customer having a bad day and taking it out on you? Is the customer very nice but asking for the impossible? Contact center agents must remain motivated so they can remain positive and give the customer the best possible impression of the brand.

“While the things that motivate us differ greatly from one person to the next, the outcomes do not.” – Tom Rath, author

It’s no secret that individuals are motivated by a variety of different things. For one person, it may be recognition, while financial compensation may inspire another. Someone else could need a combination of a few motivators. It’s important for contact centers, in particular, to have a strong and comprehensive motivation program in place that speaks to these different needs. It is also critical that supervisors identify what motivates each agent and play to that individual’s interest(s).

A comprehensive motivation program consists of, at minimum, six different motivators:

  1. Supervisor guidance and support – It is essential for supervisors to be present and involved. It may not always be possible to be in the same location, but regular check-ins, conversations and online chats help build that social bond. That relationship and support go a long way to inspire an employee to work hard.
  2. Recognition – People crave acknowledgement and kudos. Simply acknowledging an individual and showing appreciation for his or her work can help inspire someone to work harder. Consider both public and private recognition—mentioning the person in a weekly meeting or email, as well as a personal “good job” communication.
  3. Rewards – It’s a safe bet that most people would be motivated by a tangible reward. Gift cards, a certificate or award, a company-sponsored trip, a dinner, cash…I don’t think anyone would turn down a prize or bonus.
  4. Learning and growth – People like to learn new things…and they frequently need to learn new things to provide the best customer experience. Establishing and sharing clear growth plans for individuals with goals and development opportunities can be helpful to encourage an individual to strive for excellence.
  5. A team – Establishing a supportive, collaborative environment makes agents feel like a part of a team working toward a common goal. Again, the team doesn’t need to be in the same physical location. Online communities, meetings or calls and opportunities to interact regularly establish that team spirit.
  6. Fun – One of the most important motivating factors! Contests, challenges, annual gatherings and encouraging interaction make work fun. Infusing friendly competition into the mix with gamification and contests during peak periods can help build the team spirit and add fun and motivation to an otherwise challenging time—when motivation is needed the most.

It’s important to note that a motivation program is necessary every day, 365 days a year, and not just during holidays, special events or peak periods. There may be additional efforts made in busy times, but there should be a regular, consistent program. This will help demonstrate that the effort put forth by the contact center management team is sincere. Contact center agents are more likely to go the extra mile for the company that places a high importance on agent satisfaction on a regular basis and not just during certain occasions.

All of these efforts to keep agents happy and motivated should be visible in customer satisfaction scores. The customer may not be aware the agent they are interacting with is being motivated by a reward, but the positivity and helpfulness the agent is demonstrating in pursuit of a motivating factor will shine through and impress the customer. And that happy customer is more likely to return. The bottom line: Motivate your agents and help ensure customer satisfaction—any company’s ultimate goal.

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