It’s Time to Cancel Call Center Culture

Call centers are traditionally known as high-pressure, fast-paced and results-oriented environments. Because of this, call centers are susceptible to workplace toxicity and are at risk of adopting potentially harmful traits to keep up with performance requirements.

The global market for call centers is expected to reach $486 billion by 2027. This growth is partly due to the increase in customers having ready access to technology right at their fingertips and the ability to submit inquiries through multiple channels. But for call centers to operate at an optimal speed and efficiency, management must prioritize their employees and value culture above all else. So, how do organizations avoid becoming a toxic call center while striving for maximum business efficiency?

Here are a few ideas to create a positive call center culture and a healthy, fast-paced environment.

Realize that customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction are inextricably linked.

As leaders look to streamline their businesses with technology to be more efficient and automated, the opportunity for maintaining human relationships falls to those in customer service. Customer service is emerging as the true heart and soul of companies and the avenue by which they express their values. So, first and foremost, having the right people in place is essential to creating a successful workplace. Establishing a human connection can transform wary prospects into committed loyal customers.

Since call center positions are customer-facing, employees need to be equipped with a specific skillset that includes strong communication, critical thinking, and remaining calm under pressure. As customer expectations rise and demands for assistance grow in complexity, the urgency of many requests also increases significantly.

Many tech organizations make the mistake of not spending the time, effort, and dollars to train in the soft skill of customer service. Everyone needs to know their roles and how they impact the customer experience. Aside from onboarding, organizations must reinforce the customer service message and continue to build on that foundation.

Nurture a path to performance.

Initial employee onboarding and training only go so far. Organizations that invest in employee development through upskilling programs can help employees perform at a higher level. Supporting employees not only helps them perform better but also helps attract and retain talent.

A high-performing culture often includes a team approach to planning, management, employee engagement, and accountability to each other and customers. This team culture encourages a set of clear targets and goals. It also ensures employees feel comfortable communicating expectations and involvement in goal-setting.

Cultivating career opportunities can help to bolster retention. For call centers, investing in agents shows an investment in their future with the company. Building a culture centered around authenticity and encouragement will be reflected in increasingly essential customer relationships and positive call center outcomes.

Give employees autonomy.

The call center industry abides well by a fixed set of workflows and standardized processes. However, that shouldn't mean managers come down on agents with an iron fist if their schedules need to change due to personal matters. One way to build a strong company culture is by allowing autonomy in areas where employees can be self-sufficient, such as resolving customer complaints. If agents are trusted to accomplish this, they can also reliably determine occasional schedule adjustments.

Today's most successful organizations prioritize happiness as a fundamental need for employee engagement and loyalty, especially as it applies to remote work. In fact, according to a study by the University of Birmingham, the more autonomy workers experience, the greater their job satisfaction.

Many companies keep encouraging employees to work remotely, and flexible scheduling has been a simple way to offer employees autonomy. Even without a flexible schedule, other freedoms can include allowing employees to make decisions without a superior's guidance, contribute ideas freely, and hold themselves accountable without being micromanaged.

Companies boost employee morale and productivity by giving employees the freedom to choose what works best for them. Today, companies compete in an all-out war to attract and retain skilled employees. Great call center agents are hard to come by, so the answer in attracting and retaining them is establishing trust between you and your employees.

As much of the world is shifting to self-service, call centers remain one of the few remaining opportunities customers have to speak directly with a person. Therefore, it is essential to optimize each touchpoint by ensuring your agents are providing the best customer service. To do this, organizations must ensure they are creating a positive environment that will only create a better experience for customers. It's time to cancel toxic call center culture and create an environment where employees are happy to work.

Laure Fisher is co-founder and chief operating officer of CallTrackingMetrics.