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A ‘Voice of the Employee’ (VoE) program is a great way to capture agent feedback and insight and use it to continuously improve the contact center, the customer experience, and agent engagement. Most VoE initiatives, however, fall short because they don’t go deep enough. They entail merely surveying agents a couple of times a year and asking static questions – questions that do little to unlock and harness agents’ collective wisdom and intuition or to uncover how close they are to staging a violent coup.

To capture the kind of agent knowledge and sentiment that drives real change, your VoE program needs to capture agents’ real voice. To do that, you need to think outside the traditional VoE box, push the envelope, and break a few federal privacy laws.

Following are three bold and innovative VoE tactics embraced by contact center leaders who are so committed to continuous improvement and the customer experience, they are willing to risk prison time.

VoE on the Edge     

Bug the bathrooms and breakrooms.  Agents may provide you with some valuable comments and suggestions via surveys and focus groups, but they generally save what they really know, think and feel for when they’re offline and out of earshot. When chatting with peers in the restroom and breakroom, agents often share their candid views on customers’ intelligence levels and exchange ideas on where management can stick its policies and metrics. By secretly placing a recording device in the aforementioned rooms, the contact center is able to capture a continuous stream of insight (and obscenities) that might enable the organization to rise to the highest levels of mediocrity.

If you’re struggling with the ethical aspect of bugging the bathrooms and breakrooms, you can ease your conscience by thinking of this approach as merely expanding your monitoring program into new and uncharted territories.


Ply agents with liquor. You should be doing this anyway to reward agents for a job well done (or for at least not quitting) and to help relieve job-related stress. The best contact centers don’t stop there, though. After buying staff a round of shots during happy hour (or, in really stressful centers, before their shift), smart managers and supervisors listen up and take notes. After the second round of drinks, most of the smaller agents and those not accustomed to drinking will start sharing the kind of information and opinions they’re too afraid or uncomfortable to share when sober. After the fourth or fifth round of drinks, those agents will have passed out, but your larger and heavier drinking agents will continue where the lightweights left off.

Keep in mind that if you decide to add alcohol to your VoE initiative, you’ll need to find just the right balance. Too little, and agents won’t loosen up enough to share anything revealing or meaningful. Too much, and they’ll develop liver disease, which can negatively impact attendance and significantly hinder agents’ ability to upsell.


Spy on agents while they’re sleeping. This practice is a little controversial. And creepy. But hey, if you’re not willing to be a little controversial and creepy in an effort to improve your contact center and the customer experience, then perhaps you’re in the wrong line of business.

Spying on agents while they’re sleeping – either by hiding under their bed or, for those of you with less time on your hands, placing a recording device in their bedroom – is the best way to capture the subconscious thoughts that agents mumble when snoozing. It’s how the best contact centers discover what’s in the deepest, darkest recesses of their employees’ minds – the kinds of thoughts and feelings that the company could never uncover merely through bugging bathrooms and getting agents drunk. By spying on sleeping agents, the center will learn stuff that may enable it to improve ways to strap agents into their workstation chairs, enhance the colors and themes of the motivational posters the center has on its walls, and decrease the number of customer homicides agents attempt each year.     

 
Don’t let my obvious expertise in this area intimidate you. Feel free to leave your own ideas on how to capture the REAL ‘Voice of the Employee’ in the ‘Comments’ area below.



Laly Gomez
2/7/2014 01:28:55 am

I love the liquor part love it

Reply
2/7/2014 01:57:37 am

I like that you love it, Laly. (I also like the "L" alliteration of that line.)

Alcohol may kill brain cells in the long run, but it can be good for business in the short term.

Thanks for reading my playful piece. Enjoy the weekend!

Best,

GL

Reply
JR Hardenburgh
2/7/2014 02:16:22 am

An agent based council that meets monthly, is provided a realistic recognition/rewards/entertainment budget and a seat at the CC leadership team meetings to provide feedback works well in some centers

Reply
2/7/2014 02:20:44 am

Great suggestions, JR. Still, not as fun as bugging bathrooms, using booze or hiding beneath beds.

Appreciate your input!

Regards,

GL

Reply
Dani
2/7/2014 11:24:10 am

What about reviving the junior high funfest also known as Slam Books? The CC Management team could start it, and fill it with the names of the Senior Management team, as well as some policies or processes? Nothing encourages open opinions haring like anonymous venues guaranteed to hurt people's feelings

Joking aside, your point is valid. It's great to ask but if you are asking for the sake of asking and not to get actionable responses, then please don't even bother? Its a waste of time and annoys the employees.

Reply
2/7/2014 09:06:11 pm

Nice sardonic suggestion, Dani. I like your style.

And right you are -- studies show that asking employees for feedback/input and not taking any action actually causes disengagement. So, not only a waste of time, it can damage morale and performance!

Thanks for playing.

GL

Reply



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