Off Center
 
Note from Greg Levin of Off Center:  This month’s “Contact Centerfold” feature comes courtesy of guest writer Sherry Leonard, President of contact center outsourcer CaLLogix. Sherry shares how her organization has greatly enhanced agent engagement and performance via a comprehensive wellness program that’s focused on much more than just employee health.
   
If I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t have believed our wellness program could reduce attrition by 50% and absenteeism by 80% while cutting our insurance premium increase and improving our overall company performance.

These fantastic results are exactly what we experienced over a recent nine-month period. As President of CaLLogix, a lean contact center company headquartered in New Hampshire (an expensive geographic area for a contact center), my focus is on being highly responsive to our clients’ changing requirements, delivering exceptional service and managing a profitable company.

Attrition, absenteeism and rising health care costs negatively impact our service and bottom line. Our ability to provide superior service depends on our staff being ready to take the important calls coming into our center.

When 15 people are absent on a single day in a 200 person contact center, we have to scramble to cover the calls those 15 people would have taken. Prior to implementing our Consciousness @ CaLLogix wellness program, we averaged 15 absences each day. Today we average two. As you can imagine, that’s much easier to manage.

 
A More Conscious Contact Center

We initially designed the Consciousness @ CaLLogix program to address a few big challenges for our agents: Smoking cessation, weight loss, and stress reduction. Our goal was to enable our agents to be healthier and happier by helping them to quit smoking, to eat healthier, and to better manage the stress they face in their personal and professional lives. Healthier and happier agents are better able to serve our customers. Not only has our wellness program increased the health of our employees, it has solved some of our key management issues.

Following are some of the key components (and partners) of the program:

Smoking Cessation. We offer this course twice a year through Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. More than half of the program participants stopped smoking initially, and many are still smoke free one year later.

Stress Reduction. This program, provided by Conscious Success LLC,  teaches agents how to quickly reduce stress through easy-to-use mindfulness techniques, which can be used at any time to immediately calm the nervous system and increase effectiveness in the present moment.

Monday Minute. A weekly newsletter featuring monthly stress management themes and providing techniques to reduce stress – posted on our internal site. Examples of past monthly themes include: Managing Holiday Stress, Focusing Your Attention, 4 Keys to Easily Accomplishing More and Enjoying Yourself, and Navigating Change.

Success Matters Webcasts. Conscious Success offers a monthly webcast in which the monthly Monday Minute theme and stress reduction techniques are discussed and questions are answered.

Meditations. We hold brief stress reduction meditations a few times a week using recordings provided by Harvard Pilgrim and Conscious Success.

Program for Leaders. We used Conscious Success’ Emotional Intelligence for Leaders program, which focuses on reducing negative thought patterns and stress that effect leadership and management abilities. We conducted a 360° assessment of each supervisor’s emotional and social intelligence. The supervisors receive comprehensive coaching on the results to help them further develop their emotional and social intelligence competencies.

Healthy Eating. We run this program internally with the aim of making lasting improvements to agents’ eating habits and energy levels. Examples of program features include:
    ·      Healthy Recipes.In celebration of National Nutrition Month, we researched and posted a week’s

           worth of healthy recipes and healthy dietary guidelines and tips on our internal website.
    ·      Healthy Start.To encourage a healthy start to the day each morning during Customer Service

           Week, we offered a snack of apples and peanut butter, granola bars, yogurt or orange juice.
    ·      Happy Healthy Day. On Valentine’s Day, we introduced agents to the delicious health benefits of

           oranges and dark chocolate.

Awaken Your Inner Radiance book. We bought this book for our supervisors and administrative staff to help them learn how to reduce negative thought patterns and live a more healthy life.

Summer BBQ. This is a fun and relaxing outdoor lunch that helps to foster a sense of camaraderie and team among agents.

Theme Days. For additional fun and motivation, we hold frequent themed events in the contact center. Recent example include: 50’s Day; Red Sox Day; Ugly Sweater Day; Hat Day and Super Hero Day.

Customer Service Week. Many of the aforementioned programs are offered during National Customer Service Week (the first week of October each year). Our most recent Customer Service Week theme was “Refresh. Recharge. Reconnect.” During this week we offered such things as a Healthy Start “Souper Heroes” soup and sandwich lunch, fun and educational puzzles each morning, blood pressure screenings, smoking cessation programs, flu shots and office yoga classes. In addition, supervisors wrote agent compliments on paper leaves that we then hung from big paper trees on the walls.

+500 STEP CHALLENGE. A few times a year we give pedometers to all agents and encourage them to log the number of steps they take each day. Each time we offer this challenge we get greater participation. In addition, many agents participate in our walking club, which meets three days a week during lunch. Our agents are now aware of the number of steps they take each day and have become more active. During Customer Service Week, we have a 24-hour step challenge which gets the whole office moving.

Snowfly Program. Agents who consistently meet or exceed goals in key areas – such as attendance, call quality and up-selling – receive Snowfly tokens that they can redeem for cash and other terrific rewards. Agents can also earn Snowfly tokens for active participation in key programs and initiatives. Examples include the center’s walking program, peer mentoring program and the wellness program’s kick-off survey. 

We fully believe in walking our talk. Our management team participates in the Consciousness @ CaLLogix wellness program, dresses up for theme days and creates much of the content for our employees. We also celebrate our achievements with our staff. For instance, in honor of our sixth anniversary as a company, we gave each employee a chocolate dipped strawberry, a glass of sparkling cider and a note thanking them for their commitment and outstanding support in fulfilling our promise to our clients and their customers.


Wellness Improves Reps, Revenues and Customer Experience

The wellness program has brought the following notable results:

·      Employees are more likely to quit smoking for good and eat healthier once they’ve participated in the Conscious Success program.

·      Each time we offer the +500 Step Challenge participation has grown and the group has become very competitive. Now, during 10-minute breaks on rainy days, we see groups of employees walking the halls rather than sitting in the break room.

·      The number of employees asking for meditation breaks has grown and attendance keeps rising in these sessions.

But the most notable result is that the company saved $380,000 during the first year of the program – that equates to $2,000 per employee! Further, we haven't had to conduct our usual monthly new hire training in the past 8 months due to big reductions in turnover.

The wellness program has greatly improved our bottom line, our employee health and engagement, and not least of all, the customer experience.



5/8/2012 08:38:53 am

Glad to see Snowfly mentioned in this article. Callogix has had great success with their Snowfly-Facilitated Employee Incentive Program.

Reply
5/9/2012 03:44:17 am

Thanks for your comment, Tyler. I've seen first hand many other contact centers doing good things with Snowfly incentive programs.

Grateful you stopped by.

Best,

Greg

Reply
Kevin
5/10/2012 05:55:13 am

GL,

This is more good stuff! I keep passing on this site to some of my colleagues. Hopefully, you're up to 9 or 10 followers by now.

Just a quick anecdote on something I did previously with the Customer Service Week. Each day, we had different activities, fun stuff, contests and so forth. On the last day of CSW, my entire leadership team would serve up a pancake breakfast for the team. When I say "serve up", I don't mean have team members walk through a line. I and my leadership team would literally take orders at the agents' desks, cook each order individually (ie. eggs, or whatever) and deliver their breakfast to them at their desks.

Fortunately, we received high NPS scores, zero Abandon Rate from our team members and nobody ever got food poisoning. Thus, it was always hailed as a success on many levels. For us, CSW was always a peak morale period as we actively demonstrated that leadership exists to serve the team.

It's always refreshing to hear about companies who take seriously the well-being of their contact center team members. CaLLogix appears to do just that. Thanks for sharing this great story!

Kev

PS. At your suggestion, I'm starting my own blog. The focus is How Zeno's Dichotomy Paradox Hinders Attainment of Contact Center KPIs. I'm just having a bit of difficulty getting the first half done.

Reply
5/10/2012 06:53:51 am

Hi Kev,

Apparently the blog restraining order I requested was denied, but I'm glad, seeing as how you had some very positive things to say this time around.

You need to start managing a contact center again so that I can do a case study article on YOUR org. You clearly "get" it.

Good luck with your new albeit highly esoteric blog. Expect me to invade every so often with manic commentary.

Thanks for your support!

Best,

Greg

Reply
5/11/2012 12:54:56 am

Hi Greg,
I'm always inspired by Sherry's leadership style and now by Kevin's comments. His quote, "we actively demonstrated that leadership exists to serve the team" is a prime leadership lesson. When leaders live this concept, great things happen in their organizations.

Sherry and her team do this at CaLLogix and as a result have a contact center with great morale and exceedingly happy clients and customers. Thanks for offering this blog to highlight industry best practices and contact centers who walk the talk.

Jacqueline

Reply
5/11/2012 01:05:09 am

Glad you enjoyed the article, Jacqueline. Sherry deserves all the credit. I just stepped aside and let her do the "talking". Not EVERY great article has to come from me. ; )

Kevin has it going on, as well. I'd love to see more managers with his level of customer care expertise, his wonderful sense of wit, and his willingness and ability to make work engaging.

Thanks so much for reading, and for your thoughtful comment!

Best,

GL

Reply
Kevin
5/11/2012 02:04:15 am

Thank you, Jacqueline! I appreciate your comments!

GL, you'll be pleased to know that my therapist largely agrees with you.

Kev

Reply
5/21/2013 04:49:57 pm

If they feel like they aren’t cut out for the job, can’t keep up with the persistent demands of customers, and/or discover that what the organization “sold” them during the recruiting and interviewing process isn’t at all reflective of the reality of the agent position.

Reply



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