A few years ago, my team wasn’t doing too well. Morale was low, which impacted calls and led to agents not staying too long. So, I started experimenting with different ways to engage team members and show them some appreciation.
I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t over the years. However, our call center is now remote, so I have had to reevaluate some of the ways that we engage our agents.
26 Engagement Ideas
The following are 26 activities and tools that we use at Briljent to engage our remote teams:
1. Postcards by mail
I design and print postcards using Canva. I have a separate section where I can write a personalized note to the agent. Image 1 shows an example of a postcard, and here is another: bit.ly/2VvDtBP.
When I send my team postcards, I often include a sticker (see image 2) in the envelope. I created these stickers on a website called StickerMule, which provided me with a batch of 50 at a reasonable cost.
3. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries
The call center sends a shout-out with best wishes to agents on their birthdays. Briljent also sends a birthday package to every employee. Both the company and call center get permission from employees before doing this as we want to respect every individual’s beliefs and principles. In addition to birthdays, Briljent emails every agent on their work anniversary thanking them for their continued service with the company. During the holiday season, our CEO, Kathy Carrier, records a heart-warming message that is sent to everyone in the company, and the call center sends gifts to every agent.
We didn’t have a newsletter when we were all working on-site. However, in our remote-work environment, we find that it’s a useful way to connect with our team members. We use a simple four-page format to communicate how things are going, such as whether we met our service levels. We also include training tips and some humor. You can find an example of our newsletter here: bit.ly/36pA49F.
5. Pick up the phone
You don’t need a reason to pick up the phone and talk to your team. If I know that an agent is struggling with a challenging diagnosis, I will be calling to chat. If someone is requesting time off, I’m calling to see what plans they have, and so on. Of course, I allow them to share whatever they feel comfortable with, but it helps since we’re not in the office.
6. Messaging and emails
I often communicate via instant messaging (IM) or text to check on folks or send them an appreciation message. I also send out weekly emails with updates, reminders and funny pictures. Here is an example of a message I created for an agent who wasn’t feeling well: bit.ly/36o6S2O.
When I send out agent scorecards, I do my best to personalize the feedback to the indivdiual, what area needs improvement, and tips that have helped others succeed with similar struggles.
8. Certificates and badges
Again, Canva makes it easy to create certificates from their available templates. I send team members an e-certificate when they complete a course or to show appreciation for outstanding performance.
9. Internal recognition program
Briljent has an internal recognition program where supervisors can submit the achievements of individual agents, such as: “Jane was able to assist us in testing out a new application. She identified bugs that we informed the developers about before the application was deployed to the rest of the program.” Employees can be nominated for exhibiting Briljent’s Non-Negotiable Items (NNI), which are:
- Never, Never, Never Give Up
- Learning Leaders
- Deal With It
- Impeccable Integrity
- To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required
- Purposely Positive
Those employees are featured on the company website and receive a Briljent T-shirt.
10. Recognition blog
Every month, I try to identify new ways to recognize my team members. One of those ways includes writing a short blurb about them on the company’s intranet site. After writing one, I send the team member a link to the post.
11. Gift cards
Last year, I sent out digital gift cards to recognize agents for either perfect attendance for a year or for meeting all their individual goals for a year. I asked them what they liked and sent them a small gift card. One agent mentioned that she loved to read, so I sent her an e-certificate and a gift card to Barnes and Noble.
12. Virtual meetings
We can’t get all of our agents off the phones very often, but when we do, such as a date that we’ve scheduled as a training day, the team enjoys the time to talk to each other and joke around. We usually let the group have 15 to 20 minutes to chat and catch up before starting the schedule.
13. Raffles and competitions
Another great way to engage the team is a gift basket raffle or friendly competition. We recently held a decorate your workstation competition where the winning team won gift cards and bragging rights.
14. Continuous learning
I’ve been sending training messages to the call center team while we’ve been working remotely. These include brief bites of information (micro-learning), quick reference guides, and treasure hunt presentations converted to PDF.
15. One-on-one meetings
One-on-one meetings with agents are a good practice. If you can’t afford the time to conduct these monthly, do them quarterly with your agents. These discussions can cover struggles, growth opportunities, educational opportunities and so on.
16. Fun committee
It can be challenging to do all the “heavy lifting” on your own, so create a fun committee tasked with generating and implementing ideas for morale boosters. Make sure the team is comprised of a mix of frontline agents and leaders.
17. Ask for feedback
Most agents appreciate being asked for feedback. It makes them feel that their input is valued. I use surveys to collect my team’s feedback for newsletter articles, training needs and so on. Importantly, be sure to set their expectations for what their feedback will accomplish, such as how it will be used and what actions will be taken as a result.
18. Be helpful
The quickest way to disengage an agent is not helping when they need it, especially with agents who are working remotely. If the agent’s manager, supervisor or team lead is in a meeting or helping someone else, refer them to another internal resource who can assist. Getting involved to assist can help you identify training needs or challenges, such as system issues or processes that are creating difficulties for agents.
19. Knowledge management system (KMS)
An up-to-date KMS is a vital tool to support your agents. Having a team chat is excellent as well, a place where agents can talk to each other and quickly share information.
20. Schedule flexibility
Life happens, such as a sick child or a dentist appointment. Give agents the flexibility to swap schedules with someone, login early or leave early, or the ability to make up time missed during the week, especially if you have agents who don’t have paid time off (PTO).
21. Grant in your employee’s name
Our CEO helps businesses that help the community, so I reached out to organizations that my team members are affiliated with to turn in applications for these grants. As you can imagine, each agent was not just happy but proud to be part of Briljent.
22. Find out what they love
We all have a life outside of work. Understanding what your employees do for fun or their aspirations is an excellent way to build a stronger bond. I attended two fundraising walks to support my team members (such as the one pictured below). It was fun spending time with them and their families.
23. Peer-to-peer recognition
When team members show appreciation for each others’ performance, skills or helpfulness, it can be especially meaningful. Make it easy for co-workers to show appreciation for each other: Place a word template on your intranet site, and direct team members to create peer recognition certificates that they can email to each other.
24. Fillable activity sheet
I will email my team fillable PDF forms with questions to learn more about processes, test their knowledge, and also have a laugh with jokes and riddles.
25. Support the whole person
Employees work for more than just a paycheck. Make sure your team members understand company benefits like counseling and wellness resources since working in a call center can be stressful. If your company offers an employee assistance program (EAP), make your team members aware of the services provided.
26. Celebrate compliments
Our call center celebrates compliments that our agents receive from customers. We do this by taking what the caller said about the agent and broadcasting it to the entire call center via email.
Never Stop Looking for New Ways to Show You Care
I’m always searching for new ways to add value to my team. I find that the key to increasing employee engagement is communication and being empathetic to your agents. How? By showing them that you care and appreciating their efforts. The same way client meetings and deadlines are important, your employees are the lifeblood of your call center.