Call Centers: Know How to Boost Your Team!
Breakneck pace. Stress. Depreciation. Sales objectives sometimes out of reach…, the working conditions in certain call centers sometimes induce unhappiness, even distress among employees.
Wage suffering inevitably impacts business productivity, and so it is necessary to understand the managerial methods combining humanity, technology, and efficiency. Can we really create a warm and vibrant atmosphere in such a context? Can employees and managers work in harmony, all while improving business results? We will see in this case why employee morale benefits the company, and how to effectively manage a call center team.
Call center employees faced with “managerial oppression”
This is one of the expressions used during the first “International Call Center Conference“, held at Saint-Denis in April of 2012. During this gathering, the telemarketing employees coming from France, Morocco, Argentina, and more, had the chance to expose the problems tied to their work. The difficulties mentioned echoed the report prepared in June 2003 by INRS, entitled “The management methods in a call center and their impact on the welfare of the operators“, revealing that little progress has been made on that question. The report, based primarily on testimony, highlighted wage suffering in the telemarketing industry. “That’s what is exhausting, said a sales adviser by telephone. It’s always incessantly harping on the same thing, always saying the same thing until the clients say “yes”, and the next client will ask the same thing. It wears you down.” Other than that, the Call Center advisers often have to bury a latent sense of guilt. You have to sell at all costs, including to contacts who seem to have limited financial means. The arduousness of the work is reinforced by the necessity to constantly maintain control over one’s emotions. Not letting one’s boredom or frustration show through one’s voice, as performance in the customer relationship is key.
The need for understanding
In these circumstances, what is the first need of an employee of a call center? The need for understanding.
That the difficult nature of his/her work, not only on the physical level, but on the emotional as well, be taken into account. “I have from 100 to 350 calls each day“, claimed Juan during the 2012 conference, insisting upon the off-putting and exhausting nature of this work.
Taking into account the difficulties of telemarketing employees is also considering the consequences that staff burnouts can have on company performance.
Employee unhappiness and impact on turnover
The managerial innovations that emerged in the beginning of the 20th century, although favorable for productivity, leave little room for the question of employee well-being. The employee himself was administered as one of the cogs of a machine, seeking one goal only: profitability. Over time, this lack of consideration of the employee has shown its limits.
The development of new technologies, the improvement of quality of life, and the media coverage of social movements have all stigmatized the inhumanity of certain entrepreneurial practices. Waves of suicides observed these last few years within major French corporations have propelled a more in-depth examination of the social consequences of unhappiness. It was found that the stress of the general working public has a clear impact on the global economy, even if this data is not immediately discernable. Since the 1980s in particular, there is an increase of psychosocial risks related to stress at work. In her memoir “The observation of stress at work and the unhappiness of corporate employees“, Sophie Dubois, citing a CSA source, reveals that one out of two French employees admits to feeling stressed often at work, while clarifying the consequences for the economy: 413 million Euros in medical costs, and 273 million Euros in losses tied to absenteeism. The IPSEC corroborates this claim, showing that the cost of work-related stress oscillates between 2 and 3 million Euros in France each year. As for the ILO (International Labor Office), it confirms that the economic cost of employee stress, including loss in productivity, represents 3 to 4 percent of the GDP of industrialized countries: for France, this works out to 60 billion Euros! What are the identified causes of this state of things? Far from shifting the blame onto the employees themselves, the various reports blame the managerial methods. The telephone sales businesses are often the epicenter of this phenomenon, as we mentioned above. In these circumstances, is it possible to combine effective management and human management in the telemarketing industry? Can team-monitoring guarantee well-being and productivity?
Management of a Call Center
For a really efficient team monitoring, “It is true that concerning pace, we are demanding, but we try to compensate that through the human aspect of things.” (Head of Department).
If you manage a Call Center or if you lead telephone sales teams, you need to take into account an essential point: the success of your company is tied to the well-being of the employees of which it is composed.
According to the APICIL (mutual health insurance), well-being at work has an ameliorative impact on company turnover, but also on its sustainability. Happy employees translates to less sick-days and less staff turnover. It is also a greater motivation, the desire to contribute to the common effort of a company they like. Who, then, can thus inject this flame into a group of call centers?
The manager. One that is specifically responsible for monitoring teams. The manager, who is often located in the same office as his/her telemarketing team, exerts a supervisory function. He/she observes attendance time, employee efforts, the results that they obtain… He/she can, therefore, quickly become a censor rather than what an efficient company really needs: a team leader capable of boosting his/her telephone sales team. A leader of men and women who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of his/her employees, and who knows how to get the best out of each. If he observes a decrease in performance, he does not hesitate to get personally involved, side by side with the operators in order to understand the causes, and find their solution: face-to-face interviews, listening in on conversations in real-time, and implementation of an efficient action plan with the telemarketing adviser.
“The intermediary managers play an essential role in the development of well-being within companies“, confirms The Practical Guide on Psychosocial Risks, reminding us that they are at the forefront in spotting unhappiness in employees. The point here is that the monitoring of telemarketing teams is in no way akin to slavery. It is collaboration, construction. The manager must work with, and not against, the telephone sales advisers. If she finds shortcomings within her team, she will correct them, but always with respect and dignity. The goal is to raise up, and not belittle, while never forgetting that personal interest is tied to general interest. Let us clarify that taking into account the dignity of everyone and acting with humanity does not mean “pampering” the telephone sales operators. Telemarketing is a challenging profession, and an employee may need to be boosted, stimulated, or shaken. An individual who does not have, or does not develop over time, a certain strength of character cannot continue in a call center, for it is the essence of this work.
“It is necessary, despite everything, to have them perform forced sales, claimed a manager in the collections industry. Because this is a profession of persuasion. And it isn’t because the client said no once that he is going to say no again tomorrow. And so, we go back to him. We are challengers, it is constantly challenges” So, how can you effectively boost your telephone sales teams? Let’s take a look together:
4 tips to boost your telemarketing team and increase your productivity
Tip n°1: Be sure of the well-being of each telephone sales operator
Team monitoring is above all keeping track of troop morale. Why? Because happy employees make for happy customers. Well-being is just as contagious as stress. Even if she is an excellent actor, the stress and frustration of a telemarketing operator remain discernable in her voice. However, if she is fully satisfied with her place within the Call Center, she will be fully implicated and motivated. And if, ultimately, customers are happy, the company will be a winner.
Tip n°2: Create a group dynamic
It is a fact: in a telemarketing group, there is often competition. Although competition can generate emulation favorable to profitability, it mustn’t under any circumstances lead to animosity, or even rivalry. Telemarketing operators mustn’t forget that they are above all: a team. And there is nothing better for productivity than a team working in collaboration and synergy. You must thus create the conditions for the emergence of an esprit de corps within the call center, by reminding them that the individual objectives lead toward the accomplishment of the team’s common objectives. The best will therefore not hesitate to carry the weak link(s), always within a mindset of mutual aid.
Tip n°3: Favor the carrot over the stick
Imagine the scene. You are a foreman, and must monitor prisoners crushing rocks with picks. If they take a break for even a moment, you have orders to whip them in order to drive them on. What will these prisoners do? They are going to obey. They are going to dig tirelessly. But why will they do this? Because they have no choice. But every time you turn away your attention, they will slacken their efforts. Now imagine the following approach.
You abandon the whip and reveal a secret to them: You know, the ground that you are digging into… Well, there is a treasure underneath. Whoever finds it first will have a part in it. What will happen? They will work hard, they will dig again and again, and this because they want to. Whether or not your back is turned is of no importance, as they will mobilize all of their energy to find this treasure and benefit from it. This is the secret for motivating troops, for an optimal team monitoring! Tell your telemarketing groups that at the other end of the line is a trophy. Tell your telephone sales teams that there is a reward. Tell your call center employees that they will have a part in the treasure! Promotions, bonuses, premiums, managerial congratulations, career advancement… Boost them by promising them a part of the pie, boost them by making them want to excel, boost them with promises, and not with punishment!
Tip n°4: Regularly go through assessments with the telemarketing members
Being efficient does not necessarily mean more work. It does, in any case, always mean working better. It is essential to constantly evaluate the sales results by telephone operators in the light of their marketing techniques. Gather everyone together, for example once a week, and go over things. Discuss what works and what doesn’t. Practice, simulate this meeting by anticipating unexpected client responses.
Imagine together new approaches, and test them in real situations to determine their degree of effectiveness. During these meetings, do role playing(6). Note carefully: an efficient call center is one that learns. Telephone sales increase as operators constantly refine their methods of work. A competitor performs better than your call center? So, spy on it! No, correction: take a look from time to time at its side of things to see if everything is going well, then see with your team how you can do just as well. The most important is that you develop with the telephone sales employees a constant dynamic for optimizing performance. Certainly, you are the one that determines the strategy. But, by making the call center employees a sort of “advisory board”, you value them, and they will feel even more implicated in the success of the business. And all this will be seen in the results.
PhoneCall: an innovative and dynamic call center system
Performance is at the heart of the PhoneCall device. We have developed with the help of users an innovative technology that is beneficial to telemarketing employees and their clients. We believe that the more the telephone sales operators work in good conditions, the better the numbers are. Telemarketing is the art of remotely persuading, of transmitting to someone that we don’t see information that will hit the mark. Our whole system has been designed to achieve this result. A runner, as fast as it is, will be slowed if the shoes he wears are not the right size. Similarly, the efficiency of a telemarketing employee will be lessened if he does not work in good conditions with the right tools.
Management according to PhoneCall
As success depends directly upon the relationship between managers and operators, PhoneCall has designed a call center management tool that takes into consideration the quality of life of all those involved. The system effectively offers a readability of results in real time, which makes it possible to substantially facilitate the management of the fleet of telemarketers, and thus better approach their problems in order to reveal the weaknesses and develop the strengths, congratulate those who deserve it and encourage those who need it.
It is also important to note that the being able to observe the evolution of the activity continuously also constitutes a powerful tool in terms of improving service quality. All of this data can be stored for up to 3 years (without additional costs), enabling you to anticipate the reaction of clients and optimize the discourse depending on the obtained and analyzed results upstream.
Finally, its simplified and ergonomic interface is synonymous with simplicity, and strongly influences the quality of life of employees. It thus facilitates their work daily, and represents considerable time savings for everyone.
Let’s finish up by talking about a time that those under 20 don’t know about. Remember… When you received a call, the surprise to discover who was calling you. Today, the surprise is gone. The source is anticipated. But one thing remains: what we will experience by hanging up. Will we feel more happy or less? There is the real challenge of a call center: to make it so that after each phone call, the client isn’t frustrated, but pleased. The PhoneCall Call Center management system helps you manager and boost your teams in order to attain this objective.