It is no surprise that “Improve employee engagement and empowerment” was the top priority in our “2019 Challenges and Priorities” survey. Attrition, often a by-product of low engagement, is always among the top challenges. (I can’t wait to see what we find in the soon to be released 2020 update!) On the surface, engagement doesn’t seem to be about technology, but can technology contribute to it, whether good or bad.
You’re in the Tech Corner so, no surprise, you’re going to see that, in fact, a variety of technology tools can help employees in the contact center work better with leadership and their peers and position the center as a valuable part of the organization, positively contributing to its mission—in a word (or two), improve engagement!
Looking at Employee Engagement from a New Angle
Articles abound to help you define, measure and develop employee engagement. You can dive into what it is, what factors help engage people and why it matters (ROI!). Definitions are particularly interesting because they use words and phrases like emotional commitment or connection, enthusiasm, belief, dedication, motivation and passion. On the surface, it is easy to say that this is not about technology.
Sample questions on employee engagement surveys consistently fail to mention technology. The factors people focus on to improve engagement include things like culture, leadership, pay structures, career paths, communication, etc. They’re not thinking about technology, are they?! But when you get to the ROI of engagement, it starts to make a little connection to contact center technology because they mention productivity and profitability (which is of course driven by revenues and costs).
Many facets of contact center operations can impact how an agent feels about their job and how they perform. Imagine these sorts of questions bouncing around the agents’ minds (or perhaps related conversations in the break room):
- Do they care about me and treat me fairly?
- Do they want to help me grow and develop?
- Are they investing enough for the center to do what it is tasked to do?
- Do we know what they want us to accomplish, individually and as a team?
- How am I doing? Can I really succeed?
Now, think about all the ways contact center technology can help provide positive answers to these questions. The first thought is workforce optimization: planning for and managing staff levels, providing feedback on performance factors such as productivity and quality, using resources well, and assessing center contributions to strategic goals. But you can also think about a wealth of other tools, like routing to get the right contacts to the right people, self-service to not burden agents with mundane tasks, and a great desktop with integrated applications to help them serve customers well, quickly, to resolution, with confidence. (See assignment 2)
Many Tools in Your Engaged Employee Toolkit!
Looking at engagement from this new angle, you can define how technology can help an agent feel good about the answers to key facets of engagement. Your goal is to use technology to help agents:
- Feel like a part of a team with a good purpose
- Tie their work to organizational goals
- See measures of their success
- Have the right information and tools at their disposal to succeed at the assigned tasks
- Know where and how to get the help they need
- Have the opportunity to grow and develop to contribute more
Figures 1 and 2 identify a wide range of technologies for a new-hire (figure 1) and a production agent (figure 2). Workforce Optimization tools (aka Workforce Engagement Management) cover a lot of ground. Go beyond WFM and QA and consider how analytics, scorecards, coaching and development tools can help. Knowledge Management, workflow, scripting, and event robotic process automation are critical desktop tools that make the agent’s life better. Desktop communications tools like Instant Messaging connect them with others, in real-time. eLearning and online learning are just one way centers can demonstrate their commitment to an agent’s development. And many of these tools can be enhanced with gamification, adding fun (and engaging) ways to work toward goals, compete, and celebrate success.
We captured our “favorite engagers” in the sidebar—technology that can have a real impact on how your agents feel about working in your center. You may find some ideas that resonate for your center.
Pursue Engagement Enablement
In the Tech Corner spirit of action, I’ve outlined two different assignments for you to assess your technology and how it helps—or hinders—agent engagement. The first helps you assess and plan by considering how technology impacts various elements of engagement reflected in an employee survey. Even if you don’t have a survey, you can find samples online and gauge how you’re doing. If you prefer to just assess your technology directly, use Assignment 2. Look at each bucket of technology or break it down into more detail if you like.
The intent with either exercise is to honestly assess if technology is helping or hurting and get you to think about what can change. You may even want to ask a team of agents to do an assessment for you! I’m willing to bet you’ll find ways that technology improvements can drive a bump in engagement and that will undoubtedly ripple into other benefits in revenue, cost, and customer experience.
Employee Engagement as Defined by Wikipedia: Employee engagement is a fundamental concept in the effort to understand and describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the nature of the relationship between an organization and its employees.
Assignment 1: Tie Employee Engagement Metrics to Technology Issues and Opportunities
If you have an employee engagement survey*, review each item on the survey and assess and plan.
1. Assess: Does our current technology impact this aspect of engagement, and if so, positively or negatively?
2. Plan: Are there ways we can use technology to improve this aspect of engagement?
- Through changes to current use of technology?
- Through new technology?
* And if you don’t have a survey, use these or other sample questions to do an assessment anyway!
Some questions from your survey may not apply, but others may be a direct fit for what your center is doing (or not doing) with technology. We populated Table 1 with a few examples from common Employee Engagement Survey questions to get your juices flowing on this exercise.
Assignment 2: “Sniff Test” for Technology Enabling Employee Engagement
Use Table 2 to assess your technology and whether it contributes to or discourages employee engagement. For each category of technology, give it a rating (“Contributes” or “Discourages”—or more simply, thumbs up or down). Then note what the problems are and what you can do about them.