How to Motivate Telephone Reps

Improving Staff Performance In Your Contact / Call Center: 10 Ways*

Motivate reps by inspiring passion, a spark, an edge. Equip them with the tools required to do their jobs well, which are largely intangible. Here are ten ways to enable reps to maintain a high level of performance and have a better time at work.

1. Incentives. Use incentives to make work fun and interesting. They can be inexpensive, such as free pizza or going home 2 hours early with pay.

2. Contests. Hold contests that reward individual achievement and/or team achievement. They can be short term, longer term or both. The prize must be attractive to reps for its usefulness or status. It can, if properly done, even be your version of the Oscars!

3. Recognize. Recognize achievement. One study found that it was important to 91% of employees that, "I'm recognized for good work," but experienced by only 51%. This means that at least 40% of supervisors overlook this free, easy-to-use motivational tool.

Verbally congratulate reps on their achievements. If a rep handles a difficult customer service situation well, le them know. Give out awards such as framed certificates, trophies or ribbons for high achievers. Let reps display these in their workstation or a department display case to build individual or departmental pride.

4. Performance Standards. Create written performance standards. We all want to do well in our jobs. Doing so is difficult when expectations are murky. Supervisors' interpretations of murky expectations may be different than those of reps, and could be taken as a personal attack. Use clear, specific and realistic standards, and be sure to train reps on them. When standards are clearly understood they are easier to meet. When performance standards are consistently met everyone wins.

5. Regular Performance Evaluations. Evaluate rep performance regularly. Everyone wants to know how they are doing. An annual review would be much too infrequent for your contact centers key metrics. You manage these much more frequently than once a year. So that the contact center and reps do well, manage their performance with quick discussions about how they are doing. Ideally, these would occur weekly. At minimum they should be scheduled monthly.

6. Training. We all need the proper tools to do our jobs. In contact and call centers, training is as important a tool as a telephone or software. Would you expect an intern fresh from medical school to successfully perform brain surgery? Why expect untrained reps to successfully sell or service customers and prospects? Appropriate training is essential.

*These are general recommendations. Specific strategies and tactics should be based on a review of your needs, market and operation. For outside support contact Lieber & Associates.

Two reps with headsets at their computers with one supervisor

7. Refresher Trainings. Conduct refresher trainings regularly. Training should never stop! Product knowledge, telephone skills, closes, customer service and technical questions all merit periodic refreshers, even for star reps. Pro sports teams and Olympic athletes practice the fundamentals. Professional and Olympic quality contact/call center reps do the same.

8. Prompt Updates. Keep your reps up-to-date on product changes, announcements, new ads, your company and program. Your reps can only communicate information which they have available. Use e-mails, memos, meetings and trainings to get the word out.

9. An Occasional Shot in the Arm. Now and then, an outside trainer and/or outside video trainings can spice up your training program. The new face or medium can make it all fresh again. These shots in the arm can help enhance what you do on an ongoing basis.

10. Have a Program. Have a program, have a plan and work the plan. Don't make motivation and training a temporary or annual activity. Do both regularly to experience better staff performance, better contact center results and lower turnover.

Set modest, realistic goals that are within relatively easy reach, and you will find that the benefits of your program more than exceed its costs. While an investment is necessary, it is not the cost of your program that determines effectiveness. Rather, it is how you design, develop and implement it.

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