5 Secrets to Beating the Late Summer Slump
Keep Your Call Center Agents Present, Productive, and Brand Positive, Even During the Dog Days of Summer
Let’s face it, an inbound customer care center is a busy, sometimes high pressure work environment. It takes a special kind of employee to handle every call with an upbeat, can-do attitude, while maintaining total accuracy and peak productivity.
As the summer months drag on, even the best agents can find themselves dragging a bit. Has your team been showing the signs of summer disengagement? Are they late for their shifts? Are you seeing spikes in absenteeism? Is productivity slipping?
You’re hardly alone.
In fact, organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry confirms your worst suspicions in their recent survey:
Yes, work productivity suffers during the peak summer vacation season. In fact, 25% of respondents confessed to “playing hooky” in order to soak up more summertime fun. In addition, fully 46% stated that their work productivity does decline in summer. And nearly 33% of respondents seem to think this is exactly what you intended and expected, describing their employers as “more laid back” in summer.
But when your customers call in, they’re not expecting a longer hold time, a lackadaisical attitude, or an overall lower quality experience.
Neither are you.
So, what can you do to keep your team on board, even in the dog days of summer?
Take these 5 Proven Steps:
- Summer Fun Infusion
Let’s face it, summer does create the daily temptation to play hooky. You can either agonize over that fact, while watching your attendance numbers falter. Or, you can build in some fun summer activities that keep the energy and optimism levels up. The key is to organize events – whether they’re in-person or online – that tap into the interests of your team. In other words, this doesn’t work too well if you haven’t taken the time to really talk to each of your agents. Get to know what kind of activities would be both meaningful and rewarding. Are they having fun at work? Do they have solid, interpersonal relationships with their team members? Think about creating friendly, humorous (but always appropriate) competitions with fun awards. Host virtual or in-person coffee chats. Whatever they are, get these activities on the calendar at least weekly that encourage team building.
- Mix Up the Daily Routine
Try structuring your KPI’s to allow every agent time on every shift to do work related tasks that are not on the phone. That might include reviewing training materials (see more below) or helping respond to emails, or assisting a supervisor with certain admin tasks. Doing so not only breaks up the monotony of a day, it reinforces the message that you’re committed to cross training and skill development.
- Make it the Training and Certification Season
While onboarding training is essential to getting a new hire into the right groove, it’s also critical to keep training throughout the year. If you build certification levels into your ongoing training, you can schedule modules throughout the summer, with award higher certification levels in the fall to agents who complete the curriculum. Of course, that means you’ll need to offer certification levels that are meaningful to your agents and are tied to actual career aspirations.
- Coach One-on-One
The greatest glue in the relationship between your agents and their jobs is their relationship with their supervisor. Encourage daily, brief, scheduled, check-ins that cover: team successes and challenges (vs goals), the agent’s individual successes and challenges, and celebrations of key milestones. Above all, ensure that these little chats are authentic, compassionate, and encouraging.
- Work from Home; Connect with Technology
Imagine fighting rush hour traffic every morning and every evening. (You may not have to imagine it; that may be exactly what you’re doing now.) Now layer on some of the following daily challenges that face many of your agents: childcare and school commutes, road construction, unexpected car troubles… the list goes on and on. Finally, factor in the simple, understandable, human temptation to soak in some extra in the summertime sun. Some days, the urge to avoid the commute, skip the business attire suit-up, and save the gas money can be overwhelming.
When you offer a work from home option, your agents can simply walk – maybe 20 feet or so – to their shift. That’s why more and more call centers are investing in remote worker technology that allows their agents to simply log in from a desk in their own home. At Skybridge Americas, we’ve found that our in-home agents are actually more engaged with their work and their coworkers because coming to work is easy and staying connected is even easier.
Here’s the great news: these tips are proven to beat the summertime slowdown by keeping customer care agents happy at work. But following these steps takes experience, laser-like focus, and frankly, a serious investment in long-term call center operations. If you’re not sure these are steps you can take on your own, reach out. Or, if you’d simply to like to learn more about how outsourcing can boost your team’s productivity and improve your customers’ experience, please reach out! I would love to talk with you about how Skybridge Americas can help.
That’s where we can help. At Skybridge Americas, we make appointment setting a positive, caring, quick and easy experience. To learn more, please reach out. We would love to help you improve your patient satisfaction and experience.
by Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Find out how Skybridge Americas can help you delight your customers and grow your business.
We seamlessly integrate our superior customer care skills with your brand messaging. For more information, contact us at 763-477-7720 or submit the form below!