Date 27-05-2019

Basab Bordoloi

Head Learning & Development, India & ROW, iSON Xperiences

If we trace back the history of the business environment, trading patterns and markets were stable, technology was static, customers were passive, speed in getting to market was secondary, the competition was limited to sectors and regions, hierarchies were generally accepted in all walks of life. No more, since the 1960s, America and much of the rest of the world has been almost continually buffeted by change. The twentieth century saw nations around the world become part of the global village, with trade barriers between them reduced or removed completely. Events of the last five years of the previous century have focused our attention on service industries. Quality human resources have therefore become an important base with which to respond to the emerging environment. The service workforce, in particular, has a vital role to play in the emergence of the digital economy.

A look at the trends in managing people in this dynamic industry reflects that attracting, managing, nurturing talent and retaining people has emerged to be the single most critical issue in lieu of enormous opportunities spun off by the market. The new avatar of talent is the service professional that is innovative, business savvy, quick on the uptake, has an instinctive ability to network and possessing unbridled ambition. The service professional will gravitate to an organization that is flexible, has strong values, a robust perform ethic and provides distinctive career path linking measures on three fronts. First, companies create an organizational ambiance where talent can bloom. Second, they put a reward and recognition mechanism that provides value for people.

HRM at Contact centers

Now, discussing specifically the “Contact center “, managing and motivating the contact center employees, the concept of leadership and managing people gave a radical rethink. Cubicles, hierarchies and rigid organization structures of the past, gave way to open work environment, flat structure with informality being general rule and empowerment of individuals. Contact centers where morale is high, employees approach their work with energy, enthusiasm, and willingness. Motivation, on the other hand, refers to employees’ drive to get the job done. Highly motivated employees tend to be high producers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their morale is high. In fact, contact center employees are often motivated by “negative incentives” such as a fear of losing their job, an excessive need for rewards, or an overly competitive need to outperform a colleague.

Although morale and motivation are different things, they tend to work together in a continuous cycle. Understanding morale and motivation is vital to creating a high-performance center. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that the best results come when a center has both high morale and high motivation. There are two things we want to point about raising morale:

  • it’s not fun and games.
  • Occasionally, you need fun and games

High morale doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of tensions, disagreements or challenges. This are-and probably should be- present in any dynamic working environment. However, when morale is high, the team invests its time and energy in finding solutions rather than creating problems.

“The moral of the center will be conveyed to customers through the words, actions, and attitude of the frontline employees”

Here is a real-life example

A credit card firm had three contact centers in different parts of the country. Morale was generally high in two centers, but not in the third. This may or may not be attributable to the fact that in the third center, the manager had held his position for more than five years, and always acted from a “don’t rock the boat” mentality. Many agents in that center had a long tenure and could not see why they should do anything differently than the way it had always been done. The company initiated a large campaign to turn the account reps into salespeople by having them “sell” balance transfers to customers. The two centers where morale was high outperformed the third one by some 34 percent.

To conclude, change is here to stay, and we need to understand that all the practices that are working today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Customer’s expectations, market changes, and strategic decisions will derive the tools to managing the human assets.