Find out the intrinsic motivators of each individual. This investment will not only help in building strong relationships and loyal customers, it will also help identify high potential candidates among staff. I have worked with clients that have former ambassadors, brain surgeons, rocket scientists, CPAs, church leaders, all hidden among their frontline staff. Let me share a great way to start connecting. Make it a point to ask each of your employees this simple question. “What keeps you busy these days?” And then get ready. You will learn about family, pets, and hobbies – and yeah, maybe even some drama or things you never really cared to learn. BUT – you will also learn just how amazing your staff is. And you will identify resources you never dreamed you would have access to for future projects. I learned this early on in my career when I worked as a frontline Agent in a call center. I was also playing in a band at the time and my manager cared enough to ask me that question. When she learned I had this passion for all things creative, she assigned me to a special project to help raise awareness of customer retention. What happened next was the first time I realized “WOW – work really can be fun!” I worked with several colleagues on creating a very LOW budget training video to help inform and train employees on customer retention strategies. We even made an original soundtrack. This also allowed other talents – actors, comedians, and artists – to emerge in staring and supporting roles. It also was a great example of a culture where an organization really took the time to connect with its employees.
I worked with a client that expressed their concern about being unable to motivate their staff. They managed a call center in a very challenging environment in the transportation industry. They were restricted by policy in their ability to implement recognition programs to motivate their staff. As a result, they had basically given up. The logic being that without the ability to reward employees with movie tickets and gift certificates, they were unable to motivate. I was asked to spend some time doing focus groups with employees. I heard amazing personal stories among the staff. There were vets, athletes, musicians, and artists – all of which became incredibly motivated to share this part of their lives. Their eyes lit up, full of passion, and I was moved by the stories they shared. One gentleman, named Bill, had been with this organization for 21 years. He was also an enormous fan of the Blues. He had played the saxophone during college. Over the last few years, he decided to pull his horn out and dust it off. After several months of practicing and regaining his ability to play, Bill decided to sit in at an open microphone night at a Blues club in Fort Worth, TX. After he hung up his headset at the call center, every Thursday night he would head out to the club to recharge by doing something he loved.
During a meeting the next morning with this client, I decided to review some of the information I acquired while interviewing some of the front-line employees with members of the management team. I explained that I wanted to get their feedback on their staff. I would write various agents’ names on the board and then ask for feedback on each individual. I wrote Bill’s name and here are some of the comments I received:
• Bill’s attendance is satisfactory
• Bill has been with the company a long time.
• Bill needs to work on his greeting. He is not consistent.
• Bill needs to watch his schedule adherence. He takes too long on his 2nd break sometimes.
• Bill provides pretty good customer service most of the time.
Ok… decent list. I asked if there is anything else we could add. What is Bill like? What motivates him?
I received one answer: “I am sure Bill likes money!”
I explained I had a couple of things I could add. And here is what I wrote:
• Bill loves the Blues. Especially Texas Blues.
• Bill plays the saxophone.
• Bill plays with a band in Fort Worth every Thursday night.
So, what does this have to do with the type of agent Bill is? EVERYTHING!
What is the first thing I should ask Bill every Friday afternoon when he reports to work if I am his manager? “Bill. How was the gig last night? Did you knock ‘em dead? Great job (high five) – go knock some customers dead today!”
The passion that is ignited in Bill when he thinks or talks about the Blues – if we can tap into that, and have just a tiny fraction of it spill over into the work culture – that my friends, is good stuff! And that is where Bill begins to connect with his manager. Where he feels valuable as Bill, not just CSR#56712, and Bill builds a relationship with his manager that transcends any relationship an employee can have with a “company” or benefit program.
So, what keeps your employees busy?
Also – take part in the free CDM Challenge here