The quality of customer service provided by call center representatives can heavily influence a company’s success or set it up for a breakdown. Proactive managers of call center operations can lead their staffs to success by coaching and involving them in team-building exercises. Skill-building games help employees develop communication techniques that are valuable, especially when the calls are taxing and start coming in at a rapid pace.
Role Play Exercises
Even experienced and well-trained operators occasionally receive a call from a difficult and challenging customer. They begin by using standard procedure techniques to work through the customer’s issue, but can end up at a standstill. Call center operators must identify the point where passing the call on to a supervisor is the proper protocol. One workshop exercise that teaches operators to identify that escalation point involves role-play. Team participants take turns being both the operator and the demanding customer. With the aid of the meeting’s facilitator, participants gain an understanding of the proper way to end the customer interface and bring in the next level of management.
Reward and Recognition
Using team activities and contests to motivate call center operators is a successful way to generate results. Prior to introducing quotas for new product launches or up-selling expectations, operators should be involved in team exercises. The facilitator’s role is to demonstrate sales techniques designed specifically to show the customer the benefits and uniqueness of the products. Dividing operators into teams to practice what they have just learned is the next step. Awarding points in a contest that measures day-to-day team results, ending with both prizes and recognition, keeps employees moving forward toward the finish line.
Fine Tuning Communication Skills
One of the core responsibilities in the operator’s job is active listening. She must hear and comprehend the customer’s exact request and respond accordingly. Managers continually work with their teams to increase listening skill levels by leading simulated challenges. One such exercise involves blindfolding team members. Players must rely on their other senses. Participants take turns describing objects to the blindfolded operator. This game not only forces acute listening but also works to improve the verbal communication skills of all participants. During the exercise, players also learn and apply techniques used by their teammates.
Outside the Conference Room
Building a strong cohesive call center team takes more than workshop activities and exercises. Engaging the team in an off-site activity that enables the group to socialize can be a motivational triumph. Many companies have a training budget for outside consultants. These third-party agents lead team-building exercises that often take place outdoors. Physical challenge courses give participants an opportunity to experience risk-taking, self-discovery, and more importantly, trust in their co-workers and team leaders. One low-budget way to give call center staff an outdoor team experience is to hold an off-site picnic and pair teams up to play baseball, volleyball or soccer.
Jan Simon is a career and life coach with more than 20 years of experience in corporate human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. Simon enjoys writing career articles and is a columnist for the CV Weekly. She also publishes a weekly blog called Life on the Sunny Side.