In Part 1 of this two part series, we covered five ideas to lead your contact center through this current environment (COVID-19). To build on that, here are five more ideas to support your team through this challenging time. Here's Part 2.
6) Continue to communicate, even if you do not have all the answers:
When people lack information, they can create the worst rumors. Even when Agents are working from home, they may be in touch with other Agents via social media or through one-on-one phone calls and texts. So, stop the rumor mill by communicating clearly and frequently. Leverage virtual town halls, videos, emails and instant messaging to communicate information to your team. Let them know what you can about your company’s outlook, your contact center’s direction and address any rumors you need to clarify or squash. If you do not have an answer to an employee question, commit to finding it. You are their pipeline to information. If you do not give them answers, gossip takes over. That can be very destructive in this stressful environment. Get ahead of the rumors by sharing appropriate information.
7) Build engagement with your work-from-home Agents:
Remember, there is a difference between PHYSICAL distancing and social engagement. They may be working from home. However, you need to keep them engaged. Leverage technology like video conferencing, email, and instant messaging to build a relationship with your remote Agents. You cannot do “walk arounds” on the floor anymore. Now, you need to make an extra effort to keep Agents engaged. While that was always true around the office, it is vital now since at home Agents may feel isolated or forgotten by “head office.” Also, hold your direct reports accountable to do the same: Managers and Team Leaders also need to focus on building Agent engagement to keep morale positive.
8) Express gratitude:
Thank your management and front-line teams. Acknowledge what they have done well. Let them know they are appreciated for their efforts. It is easy to focus on the negative right now. A leader needs to counteract that by pointing out the positives, as well. That does not mean being fake or over-the-top enthusiastic. It means helping your team members realize how much they have accomplished in adjusting to office physical distancing or work-from-home measures. Or, noting the great job they are doing in attempting to handle a brutally heavy contact volume. It means praising people who have gone above and beyond over the last several weeks. Simple, honest appreciation goes a long way!
9) Plan for the future:
Vacation travel is currently on hold due to the coronavirus. In addition, some contact centers are asking Agents to defer vacation time due to current high call volumes. Since little vacation time is being used now, requests for vacation days may soar in the second half of the year. Can your Workforce Management team plan around employees claiming almost a year’s worth of vacation days in just four months or less? On the other hand, the second half of the year may generate lower contact volume, since customers have already updated their accounts. No one can predict the future. However, it is important to start planning for this, and other, contingencies.
10) Take care of yourself:
Many senior contact center leaders are working 14-hour days. They are scrambling to establish work-from-home scenarios, adapt to major company policy changes, work through technical challenges, provide leadership and give support to their employees. They also want to be a good parent, partner and caregiver at home. However, a leader cannot help others, if they are burnt out. As a leader, you need to recharge. Turn to your loved ones, friends, colleagues and industry peers for advice and support. A conversation with a friend, family member or trusted mentor can help you through this. Remember the announcement made on every airplane flight: If the cabin pressure suddenly drops, place the oxygen mask on yourself first, before putting one on your children. Why do they say that? Because if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others.
Use the ideas in this two-part blog to help you and your team navigate this difficult time. Stay safe, stay strong, and keep moving forward!