Certainty is a human need! It’s up there with Safety, Food and Shelter, if ignored doubt and uncertainty will heavily impact productivity and CSAT.

“Why am I bothering, no one cares anyway”

“I heard they’re downsizing so what’s the point of working my backside off”

Left unchecked people will almost always revert to these types of productivity sapping thoughts, so as leaders one of our most important jobs is to make sure this does not happen.

As people get lost in their own insecurities, mental health issues and the rumours which fuel them, they are no were near as productive, creative or customer focused as they could be. This adds up to lost minutes and hours, day after day, week after week, month after month, which cost thousands. Lost customer confidence will also make your organisation less profitable.

This is where well thought out, automated, people focused visual communications makes so much sense!

With very limited effort and investment it is possible to guarantee all of your employees (onsite and at home) have access to both the metrics they need to make smart decisions, positive recognition to make them feel valued. Plus all of the operational, company, health and safety and HR information needed to remove DOUBT, be ENGAGED and increase CERTAINTY to levels where everyone can focus on the customer.

Click Here to learn how

Unlike animals, human beings can turn on stress hormones through thought alone.

We’ve all watched the Gazelle being chased by a lioness, and I sincerely hope none of us ever experience THAT level of stress, but what’s amazing is 15 minutes after running for it’s life that same Gazelle will have zero stress and be back to grazing.

Human beings on the other hand can be in no physical danger and still activate the Sympathetic Nervous System (the fight or flight system that helps us deal with perceived threats in our external environment) just by worrying about stuff like:

· Am I doing well enough compared to others and my own expectations?

· Can I complete my projects on time?

· What do my employees really think of me?

It’s a scientific fact that the hormones of stress (Cortisol and Adrenaline) downregulate our genes to create disease, which means that your thoughts can literally make you sick. The good news is your thoughts can also make you well!

Some studies have shown that over 90% of disease and illness today is linked to lifestyle and stress, not genetics. So if you’re running a call or contact centre you’re going to want to reduce the production of stress hormones, which in turn shut down the immune system, for both yourself and your teams. Not only is this a great way to reduce vulnerability to disease, infection, and cancer, its also a very good way to increase Customer Satisfaction.

If you’d like to learn more about how to improve the mental health of yourself and your employees, select a date and time when you’d like to have a stress free chat and we’ll give you our best advice, along with some instant tips on how you can make your contact centre / home worker environments less stressful.

click here to book a time to chat!

Final thought from the scientists…

Consider this: people produce cancer cells every day, the good news is a healthy immune system can get rid of these. If you’re constantly stressed your body will be less likely to be able to protect you against the multiplication of cancer cells.

This blog is dedicated to Customer Service Manager and Supervisors looking for ways to save time and look after their wellbeing and the mental health of their agents.  

Employee engagement, mental health and wellness are the key to the success of any call or contact centre and although a large majority of CSM’s haven’t been given the correct training to be able to understand the science behind human behaviour and motivation. However using a combination of instincts, empathy and common sense many are loved by their agents.

The problem is CSM’s don’t have time to research the latest studies on employee engagement and the neuroscience of human motivation, not to mention the hundreds of so called CX improvement solutions. To help I’ve written four simple things you can do to make your life easier:

  1. If your workforce has been reduced by a significant percentage and yet you are being asked to meet the same KPIs, take a moment to calmly explain the reality of what is being asked of you. If that doesn’t result in additional help or a lowering of expectations – Don’t let not being able to achieve the impossible stress you out, your mental health is important too and passing your frustration onto your team won’t help.
  2. Be honest with your people! Companies needed to make cuts and furlough people to survive and if you know what you’re asking from your agents is almost impossible for them to deliver, let them know that you agree. The reality is to keep the wheels turning everyone needs to work together and do the best they can. The alternative is a loss of customers which will leave everyone with a much bigger problem.
  3. Be as flexible as you can be, especially when working from home, with kids, is causing stress. This is a time for us all to care a little more and be less hung up on rules.
  4. Leverage technology to save you time. For example CSM’s and Supervisors who want to do more to support their teams but always run out of time – take a moment to think about ways to automate the tasks you perform each day.  Scenario 1: A process changes; you send out a communication or have a meeting with your agents but only two thirds of them remember the new rule and now you have your boss on your back and have to re-do peoples work. Solution: Link agent adherence to messages that are sent via their remote real time dashboards, so every time someone forgets they get a reminder, then cross that off your list. Scenario 2: The marketing department tell you that from next week all agents need to change the way they describe or promote a product. Instead of calling another meeting, schedule that message to appear on agents’ mobiles or desktops for 10 seconds, 3 times a day for a week? Another task off your list!

For a live example of how scheduled messages can save you time simply scan this QR code with your mobile and experience how people friendly communications better protect the mental of your agents you can automate those two scenarios, better protect your agents and have some fun!

“You can change your brain, just by thinking differently.”

Joe Dispenza, D.C., studied biochemistry at Rutgers University and also holds a B.S. degree with an emphasis in Neuroscience. His postgraduate education has been in neurology, neuroscience, brain function and chemistry, cellular biology, memory formation, and aging and longevity.

Relationships at work are incredibly important. Humans crave social contact and connection with other people. Unfortunately, for many contact centre employees, work can be a lonely place where the pressure of meeting SLAs, call handling KPIs and adherence targets make being social almost impossible. Add traditional “ You’re here to work not make friends” management and you have a toxic mix of stress, disengagement and disconnection that is guaranteed to increase your absenteeism and staff turnover levels.

The crazy thing about all of this, is that those same SLAs and KPIs, believed to be key drivers for higher levels of profitability and success are actually costing companies in terms of replacing burnt out agents, reputation and customer loyalty. For quick, inexpensive tips to tackle these and other workforce related issues plaguing contact centres, subscribe to our YouTube Channel and keep up to date with our latest content – https://youtu.be/OZAxkTYmN-w

Full-time employees spend a majority of their time at the office, another reason why work relationships are so important. Science shows the levels of Relatedness (the R in SCARF) are linked to stress levels, productivity and general feelings of happiness, which of course is linked to Absenteeism and Employee Loyalty, two of the most expensive issues hampering contact centres.

Get invited to upcoming workshops and webinars: https://www.sjssolutions.com/newsletter-sign-up/

We get it. Analytics is big business. But what message are you sending your employees when you display management information on TV screens, and what impact does it have?

Publicly displayed information is influencing the mood of your employees every minute of every day; the way it’s displayed, the colours you use, the messages it sends to our conscious and subconscious. Making sure you get the right message to your employees takes some thought, but get it right and the benefits are enormous.

There is a pervasive mentality in our industry around, “if something can be measured, it should be measured.” What usually follows is then something far worse: If something is being measured, we should use it to control people and punish them when the numbers aren’t what we want them to be.”

SJS CEO Steve Pace worked as a commercial analyst for TNT Express for two years and then spent 3 years analysing KPI’s and mystery shopper results. He regularly used this information to help increase the performance of customer care centres, and fell into the same trap: A one-dimensional view of human performance.

For the last 17 years, Steve has devoted his life to helping organisations get the most from their Customer Care personnel. SJS frequently encounter organisations who make the mistake of taking management reports and displaying them in full in their call or contact centres.

’So, what’s wrong with this’ we hear you ask? After all it’s a cost-effective way to inform agents, supervisors and managers of call volumes. Well, in order to be effective and avoid any negative impact on morale, engagement and employee satisfaction, all communications need to be audience specific. Taking reports designed for managers and displaying them in front of agents will create negativity and increase disengagement. This is because these reports tend to highlight the negatives and often include information agents have no control over. More importantly, Management Information does nothing to tackle Employee Engagement in any way. In fact most agents we have spoken to over the years dislike their Wallboards and Dashboards for that very reason.

So, what’s the solution? How do you motivate people with metrics? First of all, start by asking yourself three simple questions:

  1. What improvements do we need to make to help us reach our goals?
  2. What do we want to achieve by having information publicly displayed on TV screens?
  3. How will this data help my agents be more autonomous, productive and better equipped to master their role?

By reflecting on these questions as you design your contact centre visuals, you gain deeper insight into the power of the numbers, and the damage they can do if you pick the wrong ones. To increase morale, engagement and satisfaction, to recognise excellence and support your teams, you need to question the value of every metric you display, and not just have numbers on a screen because they represent things than can easily be measured.

So, can you use metrics to motivate people. The answer is “Yes,” – but probably not in the way you currently think! SJS can help you to develop SCARF-compliant environments which support employees, rather than penalise them for numbers they have no control over. Our approach uses metrics in the correct way to shape behaviour, drive improvements and keep everyone happy.

Click here to request a free, no-obligation branded demonstration today, and we’ll show you how.

I recently sat down with Steve Pace – SJS Solutions CEO – and asked him a really difficult question. I asked him how he feels organisations can create certainty in uncertain times.

Our industry, like many others, is facing unprecedented stresses and challenges as a result of the devastating impact of COVID-19. We know that our clients are facing challenges never faced before. This is all leading to huge amounts of uncertainty. The impact that uncertainty has on employees simply cannot be underestimated. Uncertainty causes an increase in social pain. When you increase pain, you increase the production of stress hormones, which increases stress, decreases productivity, increases disengagement, increases sickness… the list goes on and on and the cycle is unstoppable.

Before we could address my question, we needed to establish what we mean by term “Certainty.” At SJS, everything we do informed by the research coming out of the Neuro-Leadership Institute. In the SCARF framework, Rock (2008) defines Certainty very simply as, “our ability to predict the future.” This doesn’t mean that we need to develop psychic powers! Rather, “Certainty” means how confident we are about what is going to happen to us in the future. The more confidence we have about this, the more certainty we have.

Back to the question I asked at the start of the interview: Given all the changes every person and every organisation is facing right now – how can employers create certainty in the middle of all this uncertainty?

As someone with years of experience in this field, Steve explains that there are a couple of simple – but effective – things that organisations can do to give their employees certainty, lower their stress levels and protect their well-being:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! This is very much a two-way street. Clear, purposeful communication from managers really increases certainty. When people know what is happening in the business, they are more able to work out how things are going now, and might in the future. This helps to build consensus and lower stress. Remember: listen to your employees as well. And I mean really listen! Give people the opportunity to talk about their work and how they see themselves in their role. Ask them how they can help the company to meet its goals and they will be more engaged, productive, happy and certain.
  2. Share common goals, resources and strategies that everyone can use to help the organisation reach its goals and meet its targets. This gives everyone certainty because they are able to row together in the right direction! When goals and resources are shared, you have increased transparency as well. When everyone can see the goal – and how they are going to work as a team to get there, certainty is guaranteed.
  3. Repetition increases people’s sense of certainty, and the research on this is crystal clear: Provide regular opportunities for people to repeat desired views and you will increase their certainty. For example, monthly staff surveys can be used to gather people’s views. During meetings, you can ask colleagues to re-state their position on something. Ask them to state other people’s position on topics or decisions made as well. Some companies ask employees to be very active on social media by liking and sharing company content. All of these things increase certainty and will help lower stress and improve engagement.

In closing, Steve offered one final piece of advice: Certainty is essential to the healthy operation and wellbeing of any organisation. “Without certainty, you have uncertainty… and you don’t need a background in psychology to understand why that’s going to kill your productivity.”

Optymyse Version 6 has a number of innovative features which – when used properly – will help build confidence, increase certainty and protect the mental well-being of employees at every level of the contact centre. Get in touch with us today to book a free consultation call and we’ll show you how to do it.

Image credit: Tim Gouw. Pexels. 2020

According to ContactBabel’s 2017 US Contact Centre Decision-Maker’s Guide, 53% of contact centres report that it costs them more than $1,500 to recruit a single agent. More worryingly, 11% report that it costs them more than $3,500 to recruit one agent. When you consider that the average call centre has an attrition rate of between 30 to 50%, the annual recruitment cost for a single, 50-seat call centre is a staggering number.

Three years later, we continue to talk to our customers, and we hear that the situation is not improving. All of them are experiencing the same kinds of expensive problems as before. Problems such as high staff turnover, high levels of stress, high levels of absenteeism, and – along with that – high recruitment and retraining costs. These four expensive issues don’t exist in a vacuum or in isolation. They are very much inter-connected and exist in a cycle. Most contact centres we work with are trapped in this cycle, which will repeat endlessly unless proactive steps are taken to break it.

Of course, there are some easy things that can be done. Increasing base salary has been shown to be the single most effective strategy for reducing attrition. However, what often happens is that contact centres would rather invest money on expensive new phone systems than increase salaries. Furthermore, an increase in base salary won’t solve the attrition problem in the long term, because it does nothing to reduce stress and improve the working environment for the agents themselves.

So, how do you break the cycle of agent turnover and drive meaningful, sustainable, long-term change? What’s needed is a systematic approach to lowering that initial first level of stress. At SJS, our whole approach is based around using the latest findings from neuro-scientific research to help you influence others and improve the workplace environment. We know that the way to do this is through S.C.A.R.F.

S.C.A.R.F. is an acronym and it represents five domains that influence human behaviour – in any situation, but especially so in a high stress environment like a contact centre. The S.C.A.R.F. approach was developed by neuro-leadership expert David Rock who states that our behaviour is influenced by our sense of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. Together, they spell out the word S.C.A.R.F.

Status is how important we perceive ourselves to be to other people.
Certainty refers to our ability to predict the future. (Not in the sense that we’ve become psychic, but in the sense that we can be confident about what’s going to happen)
Autonomy is linked to Certainty, and refers to how much control we feel we have over what is happening.
Relatedness is how safe we feel with and around others.
Fairness relates to our sense of how fair we perceive the exchanges between two people to be.

This is important to know, because every time we interact with someone, there are things that we do – both consciously and unconsciously – that either reduce or increase any of these five factors. Any time something happens that lowers our sense of status, or reduces our certainty for example, causes an increase in something called, “social pain.”

“Social pain” is a term that describes a kind of pain that is perceived in the brain. Evidence from fMRI scans has demonstrated that social pain is perceived in the same way, using the same parts of the brain as physical pain. Because the body processes social pain in the same way as it processes physical pain, every time we cause someone to experience social pain, it’s the same as if we had physically hurt them.

Once the body begins to experience any kind of pain, the reaction is certain. If you cut your finger with a sharp knife, the response pathway in the brain, and the physiological response in the body is the same as if somebody treats you unfairly, lowers your certainty or reduces your status. The first thing that happens is always hormonal, because hormones are what cause our responses. When you cause someone to experience social pain, they is a release of adrenaline. This is not good, as it results in the classic “fight-flight-freeze response.

You know which of your agents are the ones that – when they feel threatened, have their status reduced or are given less autonomy – are going to freeze, which ones are going to stand their ground, and which ones will run away. “Run away” could literally mean running away from you but, most often, it translates into absenteeism, sickness and – ultimately – agent turnover.

The good news is, it’s very easy to do things that increase people’s status, certainty, autonomy, sense of relatedness and sense of fairness. When you do this, the opposite pathway is equally guaranteed. Increasing somebody’s status or treating them fairly, for example, not only decreases social pain perception – which is very important – but also causes a different hormone to be released. This hormone is called Dopamine.

Dopamine is the habit-forming hormone, and it is incredibly powerful. Dopamine is the hormone that makes us do things like check our phones every 5 seconds. It is the physiological basis for human addiction, and it activates our reward pathways. When Dopamine is released, people feel rewarded, calm, safe, and relaxed – and this is a very addictive feeling.

Using the S.C.A.R.F. approach not only helps you build capacity and unlock other people’s potential – it reduces stress and it’s the only way you are going to break the expensive cycle of agent disengagement and turnover. The great thing about S.C.A.R.F. is, now that you know a little bit about it, you can actually begin to influence people’s behaviour just by knowing about it. Studies have shown that knowing just the basics behind S.C.A.R.F. gives you self-awareness and self-certainty to subconsciously influence your behaviour in ways that mean you can then influence other people in positive ways. Believe it or not, people will be subconsciously aware that you have certainty – and that will give them certainty. Talk about a win-win situation!

Optymyse from SJS, combined with our in-person workshops and training, will give you the tools you need to break the expensive agent turnover cycle. Get the expertise to start building a truly S.C.A.R.F. compliant contact centre environment: Contact us today to get started.

Did you know that the 18th – 24th of May is mental health awareness week in the UK?

At SJS Solutions, we understand the importance of taking care of each other, especially during these stressful and uncertain times. Did you also know that Optymyse was specifically designed to improve the mental wellbeing of all contact centre employees? It’s literally the reason why the product – and our company – exists.

In case you are not already aware, here are 5 top tips to help you make sure Optymyse is working effectively to protect the mental health of all your agents:

  1. Schedule important events. Humans are social animals and we love being recognised and celebrated. With Optymyse, you can bulk schedule birthday messages, work anniversaries and whole host of other events that will help your agents to feel valued, recognised and connected.
  2. Set up Boolean triggers. Are your dashboard alerts creating a negative environment by penalising agents for things they have no real control over? If so, you could be seriously impacting your agents’ mental wellbeing. Optymyse Smart Contact Centre Visuals allow you to set up Boolean triggers which allow you to improve performance whilst treating employees fairly and avoiding unnecessary stress and panic. 
  3. Add a Social Media scroller. Providing your agents with live information is a fantastic way to increase their certainty – and lower their stress levels. Why not add a Twitter feed to your wallboard so they can keep up-to-date with company announcements as they happen? You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes.
  4. Use Live Updates. Let’s face it, no-one likes unpleasant surprises! They can be stressful and can make people feel like they are losing control. This is not good for anyone’s mental health. Using Live Updates lets you keep agents in the loop as real-world conditions change. This gives your agents the autonomy and confidence to effectively deal with customer queries, and creates positive experiences on both sides of the conversation.
  5. Deploy Optymyse Agile. Many agents are currently facing the added stress of having to work remotely – often in inappropriate office environments without the all-important social interactions that they need. Optymyse Agile allows agents to take their Smart Visuals home with them – giving them access the metrics and messaging in a familiar and easy to use format, as well as keeping them socially connected.

We’ve put together a short, 2-minute video showing how these features look, how they can help you to optimise your contact centre and – most importantly – how they can help protect the mental wellbeing of your agents – https://youtu.be/N4J0-WWEc_4

If you’d like our assistance with creating a SCARF-compliant template, or if you would like to order Agile licenses, please Contact Us we’re happy to help!

As many countries look towards easing their lockdown restrictions, we’ve been reflecting on what we can do to help. We have put together a list of 5 things we think will reduce stress and protect your employees when they return to work:

1.       Make sure your employees know the new rules around hygiene and social distancing:

There has been so much uncertainty in the world of late, so the best thing we can do now is make sure you keep this clear, practical information available at all times. With Optymyse, you can do this by including virtual noticeboards in your Optymyse templates and you can also share public health videos.

2.       Reconnect socially:

Show how much you care about your agents by scheduling birthday and work anniversary messages so that they appear regularly on your wallboards. This lets everyone feel valued, recognised and connected – and will also help lighten the mood.

3.       Keep communicating:

Keeping employees informed of what is happening operationally will allow them to be more prepared for the types of questions they will receive from customers. The scientific evidence shows this will reduce stress – leading to an increased customer and employee experience.

4.       Empower your agents to deliver the best possible customer experience:

In order to ensure long term survival, taking care of – and retaining – your customers is more important than ever before. Your agents are a critical part of the entire Customer Experience process, so consider sharing live CSAT metrics, customer feedback and NPS scores with your agents via Optymyse so they can take ownership of Customer Experience.

5.       Deploy Optymyse Agile Licenses:

If you are planning to keep some of your team at home in the longer term, consider deploying our Optymyse Agile Licenses. This will allow your home workers to get the same operational information they need as well as social messages, birthdays and anniversaries.

If you’d like our assistance with creating a #backtowork template, or if you would like to order Agile licenses contact us, let us know. We’re happy to help!

Prior to 2020, the idea that your boss might ask you to work from home was a bit like winning the lottery. Lovely if it happened, but probably a bit far-fetched. Prior to 2020, the idea that your boss would force you to work from home would have sounded completely absurd! Be careful what you wish for.

It’s happening a lot right now. In the United States, big name companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple – even NASA – are mandating that their employees work from home where possible, for as long as possible and the UK is “working from home”. We are truly in unchartered territory. 

The current coronavirus outbreak has taught us all many things. It has opened up huge philosophical questions and made us re-evaluate our purpose. We’re learning more and more about how adaptable we are, but also about actually how many jobs it is possible to get done remotely. Many industry experts are starting to question whether this is the beginning of a fundamental shift in how we all work – and whether things can ever be the same again. Are we witnessing the end of the commuting and could this be what our planet needs? 

Only time will tell of course. In the meantime, the most important thing for all of us is to stay safe and try to ride this storm out with our mental and physical health and our economies intact. At times like this, governments and industries need contact centres like never before. As stock prices plummet, travel options shrink and health concerns grow, people get anxious. This means that call centres are increasingly being left with the very human task of helping millions of people get answers to questions that have simply never been asked before.  

At SJS, the Coronavirus situation has got us asking the big questions too: How can we take care of employees when we’re not allowed to see each other? How can we best help our customers help their customers? Can a contact centre be run from home during a lockdown situation? We are doing everything we can to support you so you can in turn do everything you can to support the people who need you most right now. This is why we’ve been giving away FREE Optymyse Agile licenses to support remote working during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

With an Optymyse Agile license, you have the complete flexibility to take your regular Optymyse wallboard home with you and display it on a mobile phone or tablet device – without the need for a second screen! Bringing Optymyse home means that you have access to the same real time metrics as well as the important messages and alerts which support and encourage your teams. This will not only help keep everyone mentally well and motivated as they adjust to working remotely, but it will also allow them to better support your customers during this incredibly busy and stressful time. We’ve made a short video to show you how it all works. You can watch it here. 

To take advantage of this offer and claim your free Optymyse Agile licenses, email [email protected] or visit www.optymyse.com today. 

Stay safe and healthy out there. We’re here for you every step of the way!