How to alter Bonus Schemes and drive Call Center Agent Engagement

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Many call centers have designed and implemented attractive bonus schemes to promote positive attitude towards work and improve productivity among their agents. They have devised bonus schemes for those agents who enhance customer satisfaction, take a higher number of calls or make greater sales. Many a time, it is observed that implementing unique employee bonus schemes have helped call centers meet their business goals. 

However, irrespective of the kind of scheme call centers offer, success can be only tasted when the agents are motivated and engaged, in order to raise their own performance.

How to Best Engage Call Center Agents

You need to first understand the reason why only some employees seem motivated but don’t want to give their best for their employers. Cure Coffman, a world famous management guru on the theories of Employee Engagement, states that whenever a new employee joins an organization, he/ she is typically committed, willing to advocate the new employer and enthusiastic.

In a nutshell, call center agents are highly motivated and easy to engage in the beginning, at least. However, Coffman’s research also reveals that after giving their best in the first year of the job, the engagement level starts to come down. His research reveals that the more time an employee is associated with the organization, the lesser is the engagement level.

Coffman’s research also points out the following attributes of a highly engaged employee in an organization:

  • Such employees are eager to know the expectations from their roles so that they can meet those goals and also excel in them.
  • These employees are extremely curious about their organization.
  • Their performance is consistent and at high levels.
  • These employees are keen to use their strengths and skill sets at the workplace on a daily basis.
  • Such employees usually work with great passion for their organizations.

Due to the aforementioned attributes, such employees come up with innovative ideas from time to time and help the company in moving forward.

But, how can a well-structured bonus scheme help in reinforcing high levels of employee engagement? The reply to this question can be given by behavioral science.

Human behavior is mostly influenced or controlled by instant consequences. For instance a rise in an employee pay is immediate. When a boss praises his team member, the consequence is immediate. However, when that immediacy is not there, there are no extra or new inducements to compel such behavior. Experts opine that when immediate or continual consequences are absent, the self-motivating behavior of an employee starts to fease out.

It is a known fact that processing orders and making calls can be highly unrewarding, as well as, monotonous. When the incentive or bonus schemes of a company is just a mere promise of giving an amount at the year end, it is regarded as an ‘uncertain consequence’.

Therefore, a bonus shelled out at the end of the year becomes too remote a benefit to drive effective daily behavior throughout the year. It is necessary for a call center to think of daily and immediate consequences in more relevant and smaller manner so that the minds and the hearts of the employees are conditioned positively.

It is important that agents in a call center are informed about their actual performance vis-à-vis the expected performance every week. There need not be any alterations in their salaries and yet some sort of immediate recognition and reward are always welcome.

Bonus Schemes to Drive Positive Results

The technique of bonus schemes can be presented in various forms. Some of them are:

  • Incentives that are based on prizes, wherein the agents can score points that can be converted into a prize of their choice.
  • Cash bonuses that are linked to individual agent performance.
  • Non-cash-based awards- These prizes may be quite relevant when a company is unable to fund a bonus scheme for any reason.
  • Running team-based competitions when the result is linked to the team’s performance.

Some of these schemes have been highly successful in call center setups as they have improved the performances of the agents and helped them in achieving organizational goals. There might be some bonus schemes that can work superbly as a one-off business scheme at a specific time of the year. However, the question is – can it be repeated every month?

According to studies made in the field of behavioral science, the key to the success of any bonus scheme in a call center setup is in the fact that the consequences should be immediate and prompt.

Thus, a call center should structure its bonus in such a manner that the focus of the incentive is changed from time to time so that they appear to be fresh and new in the eyes of call center agents.

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