For call centers and many other businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed what it means to go to work. Many outbound sales agents now connect with customers from the comfort — or chaos — of their own homes. This suits some employees, but it can challenge sociable reps who thrive on the buzz from a communal workplace. To keep quotas on target, leaders must find ways to rustle up motivation for call center agents who are working from home.
But how? A unique way of working requires unique approaches — so take note of these tips specific to remote teams.
Challenges outbound sales reps face when working remotely
If your team went remote during the pandemic, one challenge they face is managing change. Agents may be uncertain of new policies, processes, and ways of communicating, or just need time to adjust.
While some have happily swapped their commute for a short walk to their home office, working remotely can make it harder to leave home life behind during office hours; your reps may confront family, housing, and childcare concerns throughout the day. And without being able to leave the office at the end of the day, they may find it difficult to leave work behind, too. Burnout can be a danger.
But the biggest challenge of all is the isolation that comes from being separated from colleagues. This makes call center morale boosters a necessity.
6 ways to motivate call center agents
Motivating remote agents takes a lot of creativity. Try these call center engagement ideas to make sure your team has the support they need to stay productive at home.
1. Provide the right tools
For remote call center employees to stay engaged, they need a proper work environment — one that lets them focus on building relationships with customers and closing sales. This is particularly important if they’re new to working from home.
Asking about your reps’ home office setups can help you understand what may be preventing them from getting work done, and how you can support them. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do your agents have a desk, a comfortable chair, and enough light?
- Do they have a high-speed internet connection?
- Do they have access to a powerful predictive dialer and other technology — including internal communication tools — that they need to do their jobs well?
- Do your reps need supplies beyond phones, laptops, notebooks, and pens?
- Do your employees know who to contact if they’re facing IT problems?
Ideally, everyone can be as efficient at home as they would be in the call center. By knowing your agents’ individual needs, you can make sure they’re set up to perform.
2. Connect over video meetings
Working from home can feel lonely, so it’s important to help your reps connect with their coworkers and supervisors. Video meetings are great for two reasons:
- They give team members the chance to collaborate on work and resolve problems.
- They allow colleagues to engage on a personal level, like they would on the call center floor.
Whether video meetings are held for the entire team or for one-on-one conversations, they’re sure to boost call center agent engagement. Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other online communication tools can also help with this. One of the best things you can do for a remote team is make sure they have efficient means of getting in touch with each other, so find a solution that opens up those lines of communication.
3. Turn sales into a game
Gamifying the sales process can also motivate call center agents. This is a competitive field, and upping the stakes with some friendly rivalry can go a long way. From battling it out for the highest customer satisfaction metrics to keeping score on connection rates, call lengths, wrap time, lead conversion rates, and other call center KPIs, the possibilities are endless.
It also pays to reward your reps for their hard work. Prizes can range from favorite snacks to bonuses to extra time off — whatever incentive you think will show your appreciation. Recognizing employees’ successes can make them feel excited about going to work every day, and encourage them to keep on dialing.
4. Make time for virtual team building
One of the biggest challenges brought on by the pandemic is not being able to engage with coworkers outside of work. Meetings are usually all business, meaning agents are less likely to connect with each other in more casual settings.
While planning remote team activities requires some extra effort, and taking the time to foster friendships allows reps to unwind and may ultimately help them feel more involved. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Try hosting virtual game nights and happy hours.
- Schedule team lunches, and encourage reps to take breaks.
- Create opportunities for knowledge sharing; agents can schedule a video meeting to walk the team through a challenge they solved or a lesson they learned on the job.
- Organize a virtual exercise class, like yoga or meditation.
- Book check-ins that allow reps to share their wins and ask team members for help.
5. Prioritize professional development
Especially in a remote environment, coaching is an essential source of motivation for call center agents. And one of the best ways to provide mentorship is by finding out what their individual goals are. Do they want to become a team lead or supervisor? Are they interested in transitioning to a different department? Do they want to take on more responsibility?
Understanding your reps’ objectives can help you create a professional development roadmap that’s specific to them. It can also help you pinpoint what training material they need and identify opportunities for them to learn new skills. It’s also a good idea to regularly check in with team members on the progress of these goals, whether you send a quick email or set a monthly meeting. With the right solution, you can even monitor performance and generate helpful reports that can keep these conversations with team members focused and productive.
6. Ask for feedback
The best way to find out what your call center reps need is to ask them. A lot of call center agents are motivated by feedback — whether they hear it from prospects, colleagues, or supervisors — and they’re likely to have ideas to share in return.
Surveys let call center reps know that their opinions matter, so don’t hesitate to question them about processes, policies, quotas, scripts, and the technology they use. Just remember to share the results with both team leads and agents, so everyone knows they’re being taken seriously — and follow up with how you’re planning to act on the feedback.
Inviting your reps to input on everyday processes, and showing that you care about their workloads, challenges, and goals might be all it takes to motivate them. You should also make sure it’s clear that team leads are available to field questions and troubleshoot problems, since agents can’t casually drop by their desks.
Lively conversation, a bustling office, and maybe even the clanging of a bell to mark a sale — that’s the classic picture of a motivated sales team. It’s hard to see and feel the momentum when you’re working at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it. Remote teams have unique, specific challenges, but they all share a theme: the need for support. If you want to boost morale, start there.
When remote call center employees are engaged and motivated, it’s easier to turn dials into dollars — and with these tips for managing remote call center agents, you can make sure they’re set up to do just that.
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