Call Center’s Motivating Systems

Call Center’s Motivating Systems

Are you a morning person? So-called early bird, who’s wide awake at 5 am ready for whatever there is to come in the day? If not – then we should high five each other as I’m none of myself. If you’re the lucky one, who can pull oneself out of bed before you absolutely have to – you have my recognition. Either way, you’re probably quick to realize that on some days getting out of bed is just easier. Moreover – you’re doing it with a smile on your face. Maybe on that day, your love one is having a birthday, maybe it’s just sunnier than yesterday. The key is right there and it couldn’t be brighter: motivation. Wouldn’t it be great to feel like this everyday? Well, the motivating systems stand just for that.

Financial and non-financial

Being motivated is the key to doing absolutely everything in your life easier. It can turn boring obligations into exciting challenges that you’d look forward to complete (not only to get over with them). Working as a telesales agent may get frustrating, boring, unsuccessful and dull just as getting out of bed on a rainy day is. Unfortunately, no matter how many motivational quotes you’ll hang above your bed, you won’t get up any faster just by reading them. The same thing goes for agents: they can’t stay motivated, they won’t look forward towards making more sales, just because their manager tells them to. What they need, what a Call Center company needs, are the motivating systems. One that is coherent, clear, undoubtful and focused on making agents want to get better results.

The motivating systems in Call Center, as in any other place, can be divided on financial and non-financial. The argument about which one gives the better results seems to be never ending. Moreover, everyone participating is partially right. Some people are motivated only by money and things they can buy, but there’s also a great amount which claims money isn’t enough to keep them excited for work. It’s individual, therefore choosing the best system is dependant on how well the managers know their own team.

When it comes to motivating people through their salary the opinions are mixed. Sure, the amount of compensation proposed is what’s dragging them to come and work for the company in the first place but for how long this motivation could possibly last?

The Maslow’s pyramid claims that it’s in the human nature to want more when the basic needs are fulfilled. That’s the first thing employee is pursuing while looking for a job: to have the salary that would cover basic payments (rent, food, etc.) and let them live life considered normal. If the compensation is big enough to pay for something more than basic expenditures, it may keep an employee from searching for a better option. That leads to a conclusion that the salary influences the employee turnover rate.

Performance bonus

When the basic needs are fulfilled people usually start to want more. This means they will either want to see bigger sums on their bank accounts or start caring more about what’s surrounding them at their workplace: for example possibility of promotion (which usually is connected with earning more) or completely different sphere of motivation: a non-financial one. This we’ll take a closer look on later, now let’s focus on another money connected motivating idea : performance bonus.

A performance bonus is nothing else than a reward for a success achieved. For example : every time a sale is made by the agent, he or she gets a financial award for it. It’s usually an addition of 50% of their basic wage. So let’s say an agent who’s earning 9$ an hour makes a sale, that results with him earning 9$ for every hour he worked that day and an extra 4,50$ for a made sale. This is only an example of how the bonus system may be working in the call center, it may look different in yours or in the ones you know. Nevertheless, if the bonus system is being used in the motivating systems, some common basics are worth to follow. Firstly: its rules should be clear to everyone: agents, as well as their managers, should know who, when and why gets a bonus and as it’s financial they should also be aware of the prize in advance. This would easily encourage the employees to set their aims on bonuses. Secondly: the reasons for getting a bonus should be reachable. An agent needs to know that he or she can actually accomplish the task and get the prize. That’s why in some companies the bonus system is equipped in thresholds. First one is usually very easy to reach for every agent, the higher threshold the lesser employees will be able to get there, but the prize will be bigger as well (therefore they will probably want it more but still have a slight reward if they won’t make it). Usually, the higher note goes to an agent who reached beyond expectations. That method definitely increases competitiveness among agents and engages them in their own sales, that’s why it’s a really good addition to the motivating systems in Call Center. Last but not least the bonus system should be coherent. There can’t be any misleading information or loopholes.

Performance bonuses work definitely a longer distance as an addition to the sufficient salary. Nevertheless, they are still considered temporary and as most people tend to get bored very easy and fast: competitiveness over the same thing may happen to decrease with every other month of their work, especially when they reach the goal once or twice.

Seems like the motivating systems based on non-financial motivation should be working a longer distance. But is that so? The truth is that when almost everyone will appreciate a performance bonus, they not necessarily would be as happy when they’d get a pat on the back instead. Non-financial motivation works best as a complement to the system but it probably won’t be a much success as the motivation system itself.

Once again Maslow’s pyramid comes with an explanation why it’s important as well as why it won’t work if the salary is not sufficient. Someone who doesn’t have their basic needs fulfilled simply won’t care about anything else. Overall, the need of belongingness, esteem and self-actualization won’t be significant until the foundations are concrete but may happen to be more important than any other financial motivation.

Saying that people are vain may be an overstatement but it’s a common truth that we crave attention and recognition. Especially when we’re doing something relatively new and we’re not entirely sure yet, whether we’re good at it. Some companies practice choosing an “employee of the month”, at the end of one month or on the beginning of another they choose a person who had the best performance, and that is said to be working excellent on employees’ self-esteem. As for the feeling of belongingness: if the team is smaller, the agents feel less like an individual and more connected with others, they’re part of the team. They see clearer how well each of them is doing and this not only increases their competitiveness among each other but often makes them want to work together to have better performance than other teams.

Non-financial motivating systems

The most important role in non-financial motivating systems definitely belongs to the managers. They have the closest contact with the agents, therefore it’s partially up to them to create a good atmosphere in their workplace. The opinions whether it’s better to be casual or intense while managing the team are mixed. Striking the balance is not easy and a lot seems to depend on the type of people you have in your team. Thankfully, there are some principles that always work. Rules once set shouldn’t change too often and they should be respected by everyone without any exceptions. The team should have no doubts what they’re not allowed to do. It’s important not to forget that having a manager, who actually has time to talk to every individual in his team, recognizes when they’re doing great and encourages if they’re not sure, whether they’re good enough for the job, makes the employees feel more relevant. Especially in the call centers, where calls often can get intense, an agent should feel that he has the support he may need.

Although we’ve already established that having the motivating systems in Call Center is quite essential with managing, one another thing is worth to be mentioned and that is : having  bad motivating systems is worse than having none.

In order not to change the system that’s supposed to help with motivating people to get better performance into the very opposite of that, it’s necessary to make sure that you’re judging your employees’ efforts right. The easiest way to demotivate people is to reward the ones who don’t deserve it. If an employee who clearly doesn’t care about his job would be getting pats on his back and stay around even if he’s dragging the whole team down then the rest is going to lose care about their work too. The lack of motivation makes people unwilling to work and then they leave – or stay because of the money but don’t really care about what they’re doing. That way the company loses not only another person but money invested in that one as well.

How to tell if you’re making right employee appraisal? Well, that requires some performance metrics and that’s another topic, discussed right here. 

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