It doesn’t matter if you’re a student who’s struggling to study for a test, an artist who’s trying to get back to work on a painting, or a doctor who has a pile of exam results that are waiting to be reviewed; everybody suffers from a lack of motivation at times. This “everybody” includes your live chat agents.
Maybe you have noticed a dip in your live chat agents’ performance, or that your agents are spending more time in extended wrap-up mode, “away,” or on restroom, lunch and smoke breaks. Maybe you can sense that their motivation is fading through their grim greetings or the lifeless expressions that they wear into and around the office. Maybe your agents have morphed into a sea of oversized gray hoodies, and office laughter is nothing more than a faint memory.
It is inevitable that some days your live chat agents, like all professionals, will find themselves down in the dumps and in need of something to help keep them going. The good news is that when the correct measures are taken, a lack of motivation is very much treatable, and is even in part preventable. By following the tips that we have laid out in this blog post, you will learn ways to motivate your employees and boost your team’s morale in no time.
“Work is a search ‘for daily meaning as well as daily bread’,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author and radio personality Studs Terkel.
Wharton Business Professor, Adam Grant, backs this up. “ For decades, Americans have ranked purpose as their top priority in a job, above promotions, income, job security, and hours,” he writes. According to data from more than 11,000 employees across industries, the single strongest predictor of meaningfulness was the belief that the job had a positive impact on others.
Customer service is possibly one of the most accessible jobs for people who like to help other people and make a difference. However, sometimes in the hustle of the workplace, agents can get lost in the workload, and lose sight of who and what they are actually working for. To help them regain their motivation and/or stay motivated, it is important that your live chat agents be reminded of the greater purpose behind what they do.
Grant says that sometimes employees are too distant to see what the impact of their job is.
By reminding your live chat agents that they are helping real people find solutions to their problems, you will be reminding them of “why” it is that they do what they do.
Knowing that someone cares about you is an uplifting and oftentimes inspiring feeling. This is why one great way to boost team morale is to show your agents that you care. Here are a few ways that you can do this according to Forbes, with tips for each situation:
Some lists of workplace motivational tools downplay the use of donuts, coffee, and pizza as incentives, or call them out for being unoriginal or boring. However, on behalf of myself and other food lovers out there: don’t stop! Unsolicited food is almost always appreciated and is guaranteed to brighten someone’s day and boost team morale, if only a little bit.
Many live chat agents have a higher team morale when they feel that they are listened to. For example, if an agent can see that a process isn’t working well and makes a suggestion for improvement, he or she will feel more motivated if his or her request is heard and change is made as a result.
When employees see that their feedback is being translated into a visible, measurable improvement, they will feel like they are a vital part of the company and that their voices matter. This feeling is sure to energize your live chat agents and boost team morale.
Autonomy has repeatedly been identified as a major contributor to motivation. Specifically, autonomy has been proven to increase job satisfaction and alleviate emotional exhaustion felt by customer service agents.
An agent who has his or her hands tied by unnecessary limitations or excessive micromanagement can’t give much assistance to customers who need help. Agents who have more freedom to do what it takes to solve customer problems will feel more empowered at work and will be more motivated as a result.
When the going gets tough, dive into the work pool with your agents!
As an agent, nothing is more discouraging than to be under a heavy workload while your supervisor or manager plays solitaire on his or her phone. This is why it is detrimental to your team’s motivation that you lead by example. Whether you are working on a separate project or answering live chats yourself, make sure that you know when to hustle with your team.
If you notice that an agent has been down in the dumps, he or she might benefit from a change in pace. By having an agent who has been suffering from a lack of motivation come in an hour later or leave an hour earlier, the extra time to sleep in or beat traffic might prove to be an energizing change for the better.
Note that this requires proper implementation; if agents aren’t consulted beforehand, a shift in the work schedule could end up messing with class schedules, childcare arrangements, and other set compromises. This could prove stressful to agents, instead of motivational.
A great way to motivate your live chat agents to succeed in their jobs is to encourage a sense of community amongst agents. By spending time with your agents outside the office, your agents will be able to develop a relationship with you and with their coworkers that makes their job feel more valuable.
Your live chat agents spend most of their days on the computer. Every so often, a little bit of fresh air will do them good. In order for your live chat agents to sustain those budding relationships with their coworkers, give your live chat agents some breathing room to chitchat or to just unwind.
For some agents, competition is a huge motivator. Although it may not be for everyone, having a friendly competition is a good way to help your most competitive agents shine.
When you use competition as a motivational tool, try and select a competition that won’t be de-motivating to other employees, or promote bad behavior. For example, it may not be the best idea to compete for lowest average handle time, as this might result in unsatisfied customers whose issues were not fully solved.
“Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes,” says Duke psychology professor Dan Ariely.
The Business Insider furthers this with their own quote:
Employee recognition comes in many different forms and is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to motivate your live chat agents. Many companies recognize employee achievement is through recognition programs such as the “Employee of the Month,” peer-to-peer recognition programs, or other recognitions based on specific results or behaviors.
Another often overlooked form of employee recognition is a warm word of thanks at the end of a long day. While telling an employee “thank you for all your hard work,” may not be as shiny as an achievement pin or plaque, it is a valuable way of letting your live chat agents know that they are seen and appreciated.
Some live chat agents might get bored of their current assignments, and feel a need for a greater challenge or additional intellectual stimulation. For these agents, try motivating them by offering them increased responsibilities.
By taking on additional responsibilities that they deem to be useful, many agents will feel a greater sense of value and will enjoy the mix-up in routine.
When using this motivational practice, it is important to first approach your agents and ask them if they are interested in doing something different or taking on a new responsibility. If they are not interested, offer up the opportunity to another agent.
Remember that nobody likes busywork and that your agents must feel like their efforts are amounting to something valuable in order for new challenges and/or responsibilities to function as a motivator.
For some live chat agents, customer service is their passion and is a field that they are interested in staying in for a long time. By promoting within your company, you will be able to motivate live chat agents who wish to stay long term, and who hope to someday become a supervisor or manager, or even work in a different department.
Promoting from within doesn’t just motivate employees–it is also beneficial to companies who have already spent time and resources training agents in company products and culture.
Every day that we are alive is a reason to celebrate, but chances are that’s not a part of the official workplace policy. Still, it’s nice to give your live chat agents something to celebrate whenever possible. That means embracing seasonal holidays as reasons to do something special for your employees and ways to boost employee motivation.
Whether you find yourself making Valentine delivery boxes for your employees, buying green cookies on St. Patrick’s day, having a full-on dress-up party on Halloween, or following your own original ideas, a little festive effort can go a long way.
While a classic holiday party or morning bagels might inspire newer employees, what about agents that have been with you for 5 or 10 years? Sometimes the best remedy for low motivation is to mix things up at the office and do something a little different to keep your employees enthused.
For some live chat agents, their job is just a means to make money in order to fuel other, more rewarding passions. By respecting your agents’ out-of-office passions and even giving them time to pursue those passions, you will be able to help motivate your team both in and out of the office.
Some companies, like Studer Group, a management consulting firm, give their employees paid time off to pursue activities outside of the office. This Gulf Breeze, Florida-based group gives its 114 employees four paid hours a month to volunteer for a charitable initiative or organization of their choice. This helps to promote corporate social responsibility and grow community ties, a process that is enriching for everyone involved.
The law may uphold that corporations are considered people for some purposes, but chances are your employees don’t agree. Live chat agents and employees, in general, can quickly become jaded by corporate “getting” mentality. If your agents feel that your corporate culture is all about profiting rather than truly caring for their employees or customers, then their motivation to do well by your business will be low.
If you shift your primary motivation from what profits your agents are getting, and towards how your employees and the corporation as a whole are growing and contributing, your agents are more likely to feel cared for and energized.
No two individuals are motivated as equally by the same things. Some agents might find food to be a primary performance motivator. Others might be most motivated when they feel like they have the ability to move up in the company.
This difference in motivations is also something that spans across generations. According to Jamie Gutfreund of the Intelligence Group, Baby Boomers were a “very individualistic generation. They were very independent. They wanted to get the corner office and the trappings of success.” Millennials, by contrast, want to find purpose in their toil and their career, she says, which does not necessarily come from getting the highest possible salary or nicest office.
While there may be truth to these and other generalizations, it is important to do what you can to figure out what makes each of your unique live chat agents “tick.”
By following these tips on how to boost agent morale, you will create agents who are more productive, dedicated, and most importantly, who are happier in the workplace. Say goodbye to grumpy stares, and hello to your new, motivated team!
For additional reading, check out our eBook, 50 Customer Service Training Activities for Live Chat and Telephone Teams.
How will you start motivating your employees today?