Curating a talented, motivated, and successful team of employees is a challenge—and call center managers are faced with perhaps the toughest leadership challenge of all. Decreasing budgets, high employee attrition, IT issues, and unpredictable demand are issues many call centers face every year, and these problems all have the unfortunate consequence of impacting team morale.
The main question is this: how do you motivate employees to provide excellent customer service and help them enjoy coming to work every day?
Call center employers have to get creative. When your goals include reducing turnover, inspiring individuals, and improving KPIs across the board, it’s time to look at the most effective strategies available to build and maintain a successful long-term team.
Call Center Team Building Strategies That Actually Work
Most call center resources online offer stale ideas for workplace trivia, treasure hunts, and icebreaker games that are all supposed to get your team excited about taking calls all day, every day. We all know that’s not what it takes to reach success in such a stressful and high-churn environment. Instead, we suggest effective team building strategies that target key employee pain points.
Building a solid team involves addressing concerns, building connections, and offering valuable outcomes. The following four strategies help you address each of these important elements:
1. Refine Your Leadership Style
The first and most important strategy for good team building is leading from the top. As the CEO, manager, or HR professional in a call center, you are the light bearer of inspiration and motivation for your team. It’s your job to share good news, keep morale high, and model a positive outlook as much as possible. If your existing leadership style isn’t getting the results you’d hoped for, it’s time to reevaluate and refine how you communicate with your team.
To start, let your employees know you value their opinions by making feedback a major part of your strategy. Ask employees to evaluate their workload, their managers, and their experience with the company in regular surveys. Host team-wide open meetings where employees at any level can voice concerns or discuss ideas for improving processes. Gather valuable information in one-on-one meetings with each individual. Feedback is key to a respect-driven workplace because it helps build a sense of mutual understanding.
Once you’re fully tuned in to your team members, endeavor to give each individual more autonomy. Allow agents to make daily decisions on the job or to authorize certain customer requests on their own. Refining your leadership style means shifting from a boss-centered organization to an employee-centered one—and that change can lead to much higher buy-in and engagement from your team members.
2. Establish a Common Goal
Call centers exist in a constant contradiction of goals. Teams are torn between keeping costs low and giving ever-improving customer service, and these goals always seem to be imposed from above and completely at odds with each other. To elevate morale and build a stronger community in your call center, you must inspire everyone to believe in the same goal.
What should your common goal be? In accordance with an employee-first leadership style, try asking this question to your team members and letting them decide. It’s the perfect team-building exercise. This task requires collaboration, inspires conversation, and actually matters to everyone involved. Facilitate open debate, small group work, or individual discussions, and allow your team to reach a consensus through a respectful and open-minded approach.
Perhaps they’ll agree that increasing efficiency KPIs is most important—or that their most valuable task is creating a positive outcome for every customer. Whatever they decide, it’s your job to champion this goal on the floor and to the company at large. And don’t forget to evaluate employee and team success based on this new metric (and not on the average answer speed).
3. Prioritize Connection
Now it’s time to take team building to another level and create real connections between individual employees. Call centers have a tendency to be noisy, fast-paced, and stressful, and your team members probably aren’t taking time to get to know one another. As a leader, you can help them build relationships that last (thereby strengthening your team as a whole).
Aside from the annual holiday party, there are plenty of opportunities to foster connection in your organization:
- Encourage walking meetings. Employees will really appreciate the change in scenery, and you’re likely to see a happier and more motivated team after everyone’s gotten a break from the busy office space. Walking meetings are a great opportunity for small groups to get to know each other in a new way.
- Switch up your seating. While not always a popular idea, shifting seats and teams can help bring a sense of community to your call center. Employees get the chance to interact with new coworkers and to strive for success on new teams. To lessen the blow that change always brings, try scheduling a shift on the first day of every quarter.
- Optimize your break room. When call centers get stressful, you need to provide a place where your employees can relax and regroup. If your break room is sterile, uninviting, and too close to the hubbub, it’s almost guaranteed your team isn’t taking advantage of their breaks as much as they could be. Deck out your break room with comfortable furniture, fun decor, tasty snacks, or even video games. That way, employees can enjoy making friendly connections on their off-time.
4. Recognize, Incentivize, and Reward
The final effective team building strategy involves providing your employees with something to work toward. They’ve got an inspiring leader to follow, a common goal to rally behind, and a tight-knit community of peers—they just need some kind of incentive that keeps them taking difficult calls and coming to work each day with a smile on their face. A high-quality employee incentive program can get this done.
Normal points systems and one-off company drawings usually aren’t enough to motivate employees who work a difficult job day in and day out—you need a specific incentive program designed for call centers to reward employees for their daily grind, small wins, and big victories. These programs are built to offer rewards that really mean something to your employees (like custom swag and gifts from high-recognition brands).
Best of all, a rewards program helps you recognize the hard work what your call center employees perform every single day. It’s a tangible way to highlight your star achievers and make them feel noticed and appreciated. The best incentive programs aren’t just about tangible rewards—they also build camaraderie and inspire everyone to work toward being recognized and rewarded for meeting their personal objectives.
Team building is absolutely necessary for organizations which, like call centers, deal with costly employee turnover and a stressful work environment. It’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to improve morale. But team building only works if you take the process seriously—no gimmicks, cheesy quizzes, or cringe-worthy employee outings. The best team building strategies are real, down-to-earth processes that help your company build community and respect across all levels of employment. The four strategies above are a great place to start.
We’re experts at crafting employee incentive programs that inspire your employees and build stronger, more successful teams. Interested in partnering with Inproma to see real results in your call center? Let’s talk.