Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Contact Center Management: Motivating Your Employee to Perform Better! by guest blogger Sushma Bendore

Positive reinforcement is a great motivator, whether it is getting your child to complete her homework or driving your team to perform better! When behavior is reinforced positively, we tend to focus more on our strengths and less on our weaknesses. Thus, by regularly praising good work and rewarding targets achieved, you will be able to drive anyone (your child and your team!) into producing exceptional results consistently.

In fact, outsourcing experts recognize the importance of reinforcement in contact center management. They propose that direct, clear communication coupled with encouraging words is crucial for business success. There are two types of reinforcements: external (e.g., monetary rewards, compensation, certificates, gifts, etc.) and internal (e.g., recognition, praise, acknowledgement of a job well done, etc.). Both play an integral part motivating sales and customer service associates to achieve targets and business goals.

We found that that positive reinforcement is an extremely important ingredient in perceptual learning. We conducted a small experiment to understand its effects in contact center deployment. We decided to divide a batch of newly hired advisors into two groups during the training process. Group A was positively reinforced (feedback on performance, areas to concentrate on for further improvement, review of the previous training session, etc.), while Group B did not receive any reinforcement. Testing on the second day showed that Group A performed much better than Group B.

Since it may have been a little early for the second group to show improvements, we moved to the next phase—this time, the new advisors were trained continuously for 10 days and the test was administered on the 11th and 12th days. Once again, Group A was reinforced and Group B was not. The results were the same, group B did not show improvement and in fact indicated a dip in ITS scores (from 75% down to 71%). Group A showed a spike in results from 75% to 85%!

We can see that the performance gap between the two groups is huge taking into account that the only difference among the two was feedback on right/wrong answers. Clearly, just training in perceptual learning even for adults isn’t nearly enough. One of the solutions we came up with to “deliver” positive reinforcement is a sign-in quiz.

This automatically activated application serves a pop-up that presents a question to an advisor who has logged in. She is required to answer the question and gets immediate feedback on it. Her performance reports can be generated at any desired frequency and provide a mix of reporting variables.

The architecture of the quiz application allows us to create multiple question banks for a given program. The question sets are designed and mapped to the skills required by a program. When an advisor logs in, the question that pops up can be randomly generated from any of the pre-determined sets, depending on the desired mix of the questions (low/medium/high complexity). Also, these questions can be regionalized depending on the type and requirement of the program. 

The sign-in quiz app is designed to: 
  • Serve as a skill and knowledge building tool.
  • Serving as a skills re-verification tool on minimum skills and knowledge predefined for the program.
  • Act as a training needs assessment input for identifying key areas that may require training interventions proactively.
  • Provide continuous reinforcement to acquire job-critical knowledge.

We believe that positive reinforcement is not just about encouragement or compensation. It is about inducing continuous learning and ensuring that our employee is motivated to go that extra mile!
Sushma Bendore, Senior Manager-Business Excellence at Aditya Birla Minacs, is responsible for the Design Factory’s training initiatives. This role involves designing, implementing and delivering performance improvement solutions like  eLearning framework, curriculum design and development, trainer certification framework and project management of training application development like BIT (Business Intelligence Tool T&Q) and SIQ (Sign In Quiz).

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