Do you want to know how to attract – and keep – the absolute best call center agents possible for your business? In this first part in our latest series on the contact agent experience, we’re going to give you a sort-of-secret weapon.
Everybody’s getting on the CX bandwagon, and for good reason – it’s a nice bandwagon, full of toys that give us powerful insight into the people we want to be close to.
But these tools are good for way more, too. Just think of the insight they could bring to your organization internally.
Because remember: contact agent experience is a thing too – and considering how much time call center agents spend with customers, it’s the hidden flipside to the coin that is CX.
We’re going to say another way, because it’s a big point: neglecting your agent experience is the same thing as neglecting your customer experience.
So let’s take a look at how some of the core CX tools are perfectly suited to crafting your AX. We’ll start the series off with personas.
The Buyer Persona
Customer Personas are fantastic things. They’re like fictional ambassadors – spokespeople for our customers, if you will.
Buyer Personas tell us not just who we’re looking at, but what they’re like. What gets them going? What do they hate? What are their habits? What drives their decisions? What’s that thing their spouse does that irritates the living bejumbles out of them?
A good customer persona takes equal parts research and empathy, plumbing both demographics and common gut feel. A great contact persona is continually updated with new research and careful interviews.
Now here’s the thing: personas are just as fantastic for both recruiting and preventing attrition.
Just think of your star performer. Wouldn’t you like to attract more people like that? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that those people never want to leave you?
Creating a persona will make you think carefully about the ingredients of such a person. You might be surprised to uncover new insights you’d assumed you already had.
Perhaps best of all, the persona helps you quickly filter out CVs and get straight to the beating heart of any interview.
Personas, everybody. They’re the best.
Now let’s walk through creating one for your contact center’s ideal contact center agent.
Here are 8 steps in creating the ideal call center agent persona
Download and open this Word template! Aren’t we nice? (Hat tip to the lovely Fake Crow, whose amazing template is the basis for our version.)
Pick a name for your persona.
And now look: names are important (just look at the studies). So don’t use ‘Agent X’ or ‘Fancy McFancypants’. Don’t be that person.
Make your persona real by using a real name. Then type that name at the top of your template.
We’re going with Vuyo. Vuyo’s where it’s at.
Find a photo! Photos make the whole thing come to life, really and truly.
They can also be kinda tough to find – but don’t leave this step to last (or out altogether). It’ll really help you gum the rest of the persona together, Scout’s honour.
We recommend checking out a wonderful site called Exactitudes for ideas. You can also browse free-photo spot Pexels (great!), or trawl through Flickr Creative Commons (if you’re missing a little painful boredom in your life).
Pro tip: go for something human and real, not some cheesy stock shot or ultra-schmelebrity magazine cover.
Once you’ve found the perfect shot, click on the image symbol in your template, then load in your image.
But wait! Whoa, it looks weird?
That’s because it needs to be resized and cropped. First, click on the image. Then, drag the bottom handle down until the image fills most of the frame.
It’ll look stretched now, so click on Format (in the navigation ribbon)…
…then select Crop and click Fill.
Aaaaand, you’re sorted!
Write a super-short bio. Super! Short! You’ll see there’s very little space in the bio section of the template we made. That’s for a reason: you really, really don’t want to get too heavy here.
Think about summing somebody up in a single tweet. It can be done! It should be done. It’ll help you distill your thinking. Now write it under the bio section.
Everybody loves Vuyo. He’s smart, he’s unflappable, and he has this way with words that puts even the toughest clients at ease.
You get the picture.
Get out your demographic guns. How old is this person? Are they single? Married? How many kids? Education level? Vuyo’s fresh out of college, a bright 23-year-old with real ambition. Children? C’mon. Vuyo ‘doesn’t have time for love just yet’.
Settle on your agent’s personality type, too – it’s really useful for getting to the core of what you want out of your agents. Vuyo, for example, is an ESFP: the Entertainer type. (Have yourself a look at 16Personalities for more on this. We can’t recommend it enough.)
Many of the options here are available as drop-downs, just FYI.
Think up a quote for your character. Y’know how everybody has these things they say, and you’re like, that’s so them? Yeah, that. Make it short, sweet and legit, then write it into that big old quote box.
Here’s ours: ‘Don’t even trouble your heart about it. It’s already done.’
Aw, Vuyo man. We love that guy.
Now let’s home in on what drives our character.
There are six classic motivators here that drive our character: incentive, fear, achievement, growth, power and social.
People who are motivated by incentive like working toward a reward. Think commission, bonuses and even the good old pat on the back. Star performers tend to sit here – but they can be a little too competitive.
Consequences. The avoidance of consequences is what keeps a person motivated by fear on the straight and narrow. People who like doing things ‘by the book’ are often in this class. These people tend to be hardworking, and not overly prone to seizing lucrative risks.
As you might expect, those driven by achievement love to look back on a job well done. They take great pride in doing things to the best of their abilities. This is obviously fantastic. (They can be annoying perfectionists, though.)
High-scorers in this area have a need for personal – and professional – development. Standing still, in other words, is not their idea of a buzz. These people are usually hard-working and conscientious. Just don’t expect them to stay in one position for too long.
If you’re grooming anybody for management, you’ll want them to be motivated by power. These are your natural leaders – both willing and able to exert control over their own actions and the actions of their co-workers. A major gift when they’re well-balanced, those motivated by power can also be a major pain when things don’t go their way.
The need to be liked, accepted, admired – these are front and center in the mind of a person whose main motivator is social. (Don’t make the mistake of thinking these are necessarily extroverts.) Balanced socializers often have great people skills. Unbalanced ones can be manipulative or way too people-pleasey.
Vuyo’s a high roller on achievement, growth and social, which stands to reason. He’s also not much driven by fear, which suits us just perfectly. We’re not about that life.
To change the values of these bars, right click on them and click Edit Data. This will open a little Excel sheet – just plug in your numbers and close the sheet when you’re done.
Last step! All you have to do now is list three frustrations for your agent and three goals.
Vuyo? The chap hates a slow computer, can’t stand lazy co-workers – and don’t even get us started on days when the coffee machine is broken.
Delight-wise, Vuyo’s massively keen on expanding his skills, so a training programme is a must. He’s a snappy dresser who looks after himself, so a clothing voucher scheme and subsidized gym membership are right up his alley.
Now would you look at that! You’ve got yourself a call center agent persona. And it wasn’t too hard, was it?
We recommend doing this little exercise in brainstorm groups – and make sure you’ve got a persona for each of your major job roles.
Doing this process right will ensure you know exactly what you’re looking for in your staff. On top of this, doing this will see to it that everybody in management is on the same page in this regard – and the importance of this cannot be overstated.
Creating a contact center persona will also help you prepare for the next step in your Ax journey – crafting an experience map for your staff. Experience maps are wonderful things. They give you incredible insight into the parts of your operation that can be hard to define – and they give you the perfect structure to help you unify your staff retention strategies, among others.
Draw on them:
- when you’re drafting job notices
- in the interview process
- during onboarding
- for incentive planning
- deciding on discipline policy
- when you’re establishing culture
Next time we’ll look into putting together a touchpoint catalog for your work environment. These help you get a solid feel for what life is like for your employees, and give you fantastic insight into problem areas and opportunities.
It’s going to be great.