Creating a policy is easy. Having your agents obey the rules is not. A common problem of many call centers is expectations meeting reality, that is, seemingly perfect rules and initiatives miserably failing in action.
What are the common disciplinary mistakes many call centers make and how to deal with the human factor without causing massive resistance from the team? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. Let’s start!
Sounds good, doesn’t work
The trick with call center disciplinary policies is that they look good on paper. In reality, things often go terribly wrong. What initiatives can cause more harm than good?
Imposing fines and punishment points during training
In an attempt to show how serious they are about the discipline, some call centers introduce attendance policy point systems during training. As a result, potentially valuable agents receive disciplinary measures before they get to make any calls. It’s true that the call center environment is not for everyone, but getting fines before being officially hired can discourage even the most resilient people. It might be better to enforce such rules after the training is complete.
Calling agents on the carpet in front of everybody
Here’s another example of disciplinary action that does not work as expected. Some call center managers tend to invite agents to their office immediately after a failed call. Providing feedback is a good idea, but not when it’s obvious for the rest of the team that the agent is about to have a “poor performer” talk. Performance review sessions are super useful, but they shouldn’t transform into a walk of shame.
Treating employees like numbers
Call center managers track the performance metrics of their agents. However, the employees don’t need to see those numbers every single month. What sounds like a great idea might push agents to leave. In most cases, this information is not viewed as a guide for self-improvement but rather as a sign that they don’t have any future in this company. Regular face-to-face meetings with elements of self-reflection work much better than staring at a bunch of KPIs an agent hasn’t met.
Start with a company culture
If you want your disciplinary measures to bring the desired results, you need to combine them with motivation. For this whole thing to work out, you’ve got to make it a part of the company culture. Below is a checklist of the most important elements that you must include in your organization.
- Know every agent by their name. Respect regardless of the person’s place in the company hierarchy is a must.
- Build trust between managers and agents. For a manager, it means being unbiased and staying away from favoritism and gossip. Everybody in the team must be sure that they can confide in each other regardless of the situation.
- Provide open and honest feedback. Lifelong learning and continuous development can only be possible with ongoing feedback.
- Ensure regular coaching. Discipline must go hand in hand with coaching. Don’t just punish agents for what they did wrong, show them how it’s done.
- Celebrate success. Praise agents for their success, preferably in front of their colleagues.
Moving on to the actual techniques...
Discipline is not about punishment. It’s about setting clear expectations. Here are a couple of actionable tips you can implement into your call center to motivate your team and keep them organized.
Pay for performance
Make sure each agent knows how their performance reflects on their pay and what they can do to earn more money. You might as well align your company goals with performance expectations. Many organizations favor this approach because it stabilizes discipline, drives real results, and increases employee satisfaction at the same time.
Clear progression plans
Promotion means more money, a better work schedule, greater job satisfaction, and many other perks. Provide your agents with a clear and concise plan of what it takes to move up the career ladder in your call center. Say, if they want to become a call center manager, they need to do XYZ for an X amount of time, and so on.
Transparent policies and procedures
Make all the internal processes standard for everybody. If it’s a monthly performance review, it takes place on X day of each month. Also, make it simple for your agents to find answers to their questions. Vague procedures create additional stress for your agents. Their job is stressful enough already, don’t make it worse.
Recognition of achievements
The money will keep agents in your call center for so long. You need to make them feel appreciated. Reward high performance with public recognition, extra opportunities, advancements, etc. It’s really important to show your agents that you care.
What about remote work?
When working remotely, discipline and company culture matter even more. Your employees can't see each other's work in the way it is in an on-premise call center. It may cause a lack of community and affect discipline. That's when leveraging technologies comes in handy. To learn more about how to keep your remote call center functioning, read our call center management tips.
On a final note…
Ensuring an exemplary discipline in a call center is possible. You just need to be strategic about it. And most importantly, you mustn’t treat your employees like robots. Working in a call center is not a piece of cake, and there should definitely be a fine balance between carrots and sticks.