Quarterly Publication of the Quality Assurance & Training Connection

Motivating Your Agents Through Quality Monitoring

By Deelee Freeman, Call Center Training Associates

You see a lot of articles and information out there offering tips and suggestions on how to keep your frontline agents engaged and motivated to do their job in the call center.  As a supervisor, this can sometimes be one of the more challenging of your leadership responsibilities.  Let’s face it, answering call after call day in and day out can be one of the most difficult jobs in the workforce. And our customers don’t always make it easy.  Many of you work in call centers where customers only call when they are having problems, leaving our frontline staff with nothing more to look forward to than the next frustrated, often rude caller.  Now it’s your job to motivate them!

Most call centers’ motivation efforts generally fall into two categories:  food and games.  While I’ll admit, I’m a lover of both (!), the reality is these can be time-consuming, costly, and unfortunately short-lived as motivating forces.  I’m not suggesting you eliminate all food and games because there is value in how they can lighten the mood, reduce stress, and add some positive energy into the workplace.  People like to work in places that are fun and these can be great ways we show our appreciation for their hard work.  But are you really encouraging agents to be more dedicated to work to their greatest potential?  The answer is probably no, which begs the next question and topic for the remainder of this article: How can call centers create a truly motivating environment?  The answer can be found in your QUALITY MONITORING and COACHING programs.

Extrinsic Rewards as Motivators.  According to experts in Incentive Theory, there are two types of motivational factors:  extrinsic and intrinsic.  Extrinsic motivation relies on rewards outside of yourself.  Examples of extrinsic rewards might be schedule preferences, bonuses (money), prizes (gift cards, event tickets), employee of the month awards, and catered lunches for the winning team of a contest.  The challenge with creating and maintaining extrinsic incentive programs is matching the reward to what works to motivate the individual.   With extrinsic motivation. the degree of influence over agents’ behavior is very personal, factoring in both their individual values and their situation.

Let’s take the motivator of money, for example.  If someone is struggling financially or just really loves money, then an incentive plan tied to bonus dollars would be a good-fit motivator.  But this may not match the values/situation for another who may prefer social rewards such as winning “bragging rights” and catered lunch to enjoy with the team.  With extrinsic reward programs, one size does not fit all, making it difficult (and expensive) to keep an entire call center motivated to strive to perform to their full potential.

Intrinsic Rewards Through Quality Monitoring. Intrinsic (internal) motivation is the self-desire to overcome challenges and gain knowledge to improve yourself because it is personally satisfying.  In a call center, recognizing agents’ contribution and the value they bring to the customer experience and company provides intrinsic motivation.

When agents know what is expected of them and are praised when they do it well, they will be motivated to keep trying harder.  Conversely, if they are unclear of what counts as doing a good job, and only hear from their manager when they are doing it wrong, they will quickly lose their enthusiasm for the job.

The best way to ensure that you are intrinsically motivation your agents is through your Quality Monitoring (QM) and Coaching Programs.  With the right quality evaluation tools and impactful coaching practices, quality analysts and supervisors are able to support Intrinsic motivation and create a climate where individuals strive to not just meet but to EXCEED performance expectations.  The problem is many call centers’ QM and Coaching Programs are structured around the notion of catching agents “doing it wrong” and one-on-one coaching sessions are reserved for those who score low on their quality-evaluated call(s).   

The following are a set of questions to help you determine the Intrinsic Motivational Factor (IMF) of your call center’s QM and Coaching Program.

Quality IMF Assessment

Quality Evaluation Tools

  • Are quality standards supported by company and
    call center business drivers?
  • Are quality standards objective?
  • Does your scoring scheme reward most critical behaviors?

Agent Engagement

  • Do you challenge agents to take measures to exceed customer expectations?
  • Do agents do self-evaluations on their own calls?
  • Do you engage agents by asking self-analysis questions during call coaching sessions?

IMPACT Coaching

  • Are supervisors required to coach on the “good” calls?
  • Do you include agent analysis of customer impact with their calls?
  • Do you track your coach-notes to hold agents accountable and reward ongoing progress?
Quality Monitoring

Improving Your Quality Intrinsic Motivation Factor (IMF). “No” responses on the Quality IMF Assessment suggest potential areas to improve your QM tools, agent engagement and/or coaching processes. In our upcoming 5-Part QUALITY FUNDAMENTALS Webinar Series, which you can find listed on page 13, we can help your quality specialists, supervisors and even call center managers improve quality and coaching practices. Best of all, we aim to help you create an environment to support intrinsic rewards and motivate your agents to give their best on every call! Register today at www.qatc.org.

Deelee Freeman is the Director of Call Center Training Associates, who provide world-wide training and consulting services for to improve staff performance and operations in contact centers. www.callcentertrainingassociates.com. She can be reached at 404-630-2156 or dfreeman@callcentertrainingassociates.com.

2024 Spring Quality Fundamentals: A 5-Part Monthly Web Series for QATC Members Dates Time
Essentials of Quality Form Design: Identify Relevant and Objective Call Standards March 14 1:00pm CT
What’s the Point: Principles of Quality Form Weighting and Scoring April 4 1:00pm CT
Developing Your QSDD: The Quality Standards Definition Document May 16 1:00pm CT
Call Calibration: The Pathway to Consistency in Quality Monitoring June 20 1:00pm CT
Call Coaching Fundamentals: Preparation and Delivery of Impactful Feedback July 18 1:00pm CT