I was going to post a thought about excellent customer service but decided to postpone that entry until after January 1st. For now, I simply want to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It’s been an exciting end-of-the-year with the launch of ProCulture Consulting and we look forward to an even more exciting 2014.
As the economy heats up, so will the war on talent. Workers will gravitate toward companies that value their employees. Organizations that invest in employee development and healthy culture will be rewarded with engaged employees who stay longer and work harder. This employee development has a direct impact on the bottom line through increased revenues and lowered expenses. Companies will enjoy additional benefits such as positive publicity and happier customers.
PCC is dedicated to helping companies make those investments in their workers. Through employee surveys and customized presentations and workshops, PCC will support your people development efforts and complement your current training programs. We look forward to exploring ideas with you and will work hard to be a great partner.
That’s it for 2013. I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and a fun, safe New Year celebration. See you next year!
Call centers are notorious for high turnover levels. Most studies show call center turnover rates average a little over 30% with some companies dealing with rates of 50% and higher. “Bad” call centers endure turnover rates of 100%! Considering the expense of replacing employees, this presents an enormous cost for call center organizations.
It’s no secret why turnover levels are so high – poor managers, poor working conditions, monotonous work, rigid work schedules, lack of development or career advancement. Of course, money plays a part as well. Call center agents will quit and move along to a different call center for just the slightest pay increase.
These turnover rates and the reasons behind them are nothing new. We’ve seen and heard these rates for years. Why is this? Why do we see these same numbers and same reasons year in and year out?
I believe Wall Street is the problem.
Wall Street’s yearning for higher profit quarter after quarter pushes companies to take a short-term view of employee development. This is particularly true at the end of a fiscal year. As an organization approaches year-end, departments are told to watch expenses if not outright cut them. In my professional experience and in working with customers, I’ve seen T&E cut as the end of the fiscal year approaches so numbers look good, without regard to how it might impact operations. How can you grow the business if you can’t visit customers?
The same goes for employee development. Training budgets are many times one of the first items cut when expenses go under the microscope. Employees are fortunate if this is only a year-end occurrence. For some call centers, employee development budgets are always under the microscope!
If call center organizations want to decrease turnover and increase morale and engagement, they must adopt the long-term mindset of Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. In an interview for 60 Minutes, Bezos said he doesn’t mind giving up short-term profits if it means greater profits and success in future quarters--even three, four, or five years out.
The solution to reduced call center turnover is simple: time and money. Investing in those frontline call center employees and their managers over a sustained period of time will see those average turnover rates come down. That's the easy part. The hard part is calling on the courage to look far down the road at those business benefits. Without this long-term, employee-centric mindset, we will still be talking about the same 30, 50, or even 100% turnover rates years from now.
Agree? Disagree? How does your call center develop frontline agents and managers?
The title of this entry could be “That’s What I Said” or “ProCulture’s Engagement Philosophy.” However, as much as this is how PCC views corporate culture and employee engagement, Jack Welch lays it out better than just about anyone.
According to Welch’s recent musings on LinkedIn titled, “ ‘Rank-and-Yank’? That’s Not How It’s Done”, one of the keys to employee engagement and success is communication. Welch uses the term “exhaustive” to describe the communication level company leaders must exercise to engage employees.
Do your employees know your corporate values? Your mission statement? They should. Why you exist, what you believe, and how you behave must be common language across your entire organization. Leaders must regularly speak to these areas.
How about corporate goals? Do employees have a clear understanding of your yearly financial demands and objectives? Do they know how the company is tracking throughout the year? Employees are unable to support those goals if they don’t know what they are.
What about individual performance? Are employees receiving clear – Welch uses the term “candor” – and consistent feedback?
Of particular interest is Welch’s approach to under-performing employees, particularly those bottom ten percenters. Welch is well known for getting rid of those bottom performers but he still recognizes these employees as real people who must be treated with dignity and respect. Welch writes:
“And the bottom 10% is never surprised when the conversation sometimes
turns, after a year of candid appraisals, to moving on. No, they are not
summarily shown the door. When differentiation is done right, their manager
helps them find their next job with compassion and respect.”
(This comment brings up another point. Are your managers prepared to help their employees find that next job? We’ll tackle this in a later blog)
It seems so simple. Communicate with your employees. Unfortunately, this simple concept is difficult to put into practice for a majority of companies. How do I know most companies fail to communicate up and down their organization? First, I’ve experienced and second, I read about it. And read about it. And read about it. And . . .
Communicating with employees, especially those frontline associates slogging through their daily responsibilities, will do more for employee engagement and performance that just about any other business activity. So why doesn’t it happen?
Or lack of it.
Communicating with employees takes time, something most leaders find in short supply. Yet making the time to get all of your employees on the same page is arguably just as important as board meetings and strategic plans. Taking the time to pen a company update or, better yet, pulling your group together for a live update will give your employees a boost of energy just as much as a free lunch. And these company updates are free! Clear communication must be a company expectation and must be demonstrated at all levels of leadership, particularly from the very top.
So how can organizations take effective communication from concept to reality?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.