After 30 years working in and around contact centres and the companies which sell tech to them I have the answer.

It’s painfully simple, but because it requires dealing with subjects most contact centre vendors, their partners and IT managers are ill equipped to deal with, it’s often missed or not given the attention it deserves.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at contact centre technology companies, these organisations spend a huge amount of time and money trying to bring new features to market before their competition, then they convince their partners that these short lived USPs will solve contact centre problems. The reality is the real challenges facing contact centres almost always stem from workforce related issues like: absenteeism, disengagement and staff turnover.

 “Which has the biggest impact on success of contact centres, meeting the needs of the IT Manager or meeting the needs of the agents?”

It’s much easier to buy new technology than it is to take a good hard look at why employees (agents) are stressed, feel unappreciated and are disengaged, and make the necessary changes to address these issues.

You could compare it to health; most people would rather take a tablet as an alternative to a change in lifestyle, even though this approach will often increase the chances of disease in later life. The same can be said for contact centres!

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index[i] recently announced their results for 2020 at 76.9, 0.8 points lower than in January 2019 and its lowest level since July 2015!!

Other studies which look at employee engagement and satisfaction also report little or no improvement, meaning the contact centre industry as a whole has a serious problem – the tech is not doing what customers expect it to do.

The answer is both the responsibility of the companies who buy contact centre tech and those who supply it. In fact the contact centre industry as whole must start to tackle workforce issues, because unless the human beings (agents) delivering service to customers have a damn good reason to work harder, make less mistakes and take less time off, they simply won’t. This is happening all the time; nothing is changing, customers remain frustrated, staff turnover rates remain high and technology alone is unable to counteract these problems.  

Buyers have the biggest impact on the way contact centre solutions are sold. Demanding help with key issues like employee engagement and other damaging workforce issues will allow you to find partners who have the skills and knowledge to deliver real change for you (we are fortunate enough to work with some of these companies), more importantly by demanding help in these areas you force those companies who skirt around workforce issues to change.

Including your CS teams in the selection process is another powerful way to force vendors to deliver the knowledge and tools you need to succeed.

I am proud that SJS is part of the answer, but I worry that this downward trend in customer satisfaction and dismal employee engagement results will continue, and companies will continue to spend millions to simply stand still or get worse at keeping their customers happy.

If like me you want to see change, all you’ll need is a basic understanding of neuroscience and to treat your agents in a way that makes it easy for them to do their best for you. Getting started doesn’t have to be complicated but the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll feel the benefits. This employee centric approach will then force the contact centre tech companies who claim to “improve customer experience” to place the needs of your agents front and centre. Thank you and good luck!

Arrange a free chat with SJS – https://www.sjssolutions.com/contact/    


[i] The January 2020 UKCSI results are based on 45,000 survey responses, 3,000 from each sector except for Transport and Utilities which includes 6,000 responses each. Each response is a completed online questionnaire relating to a customer’s experience with a specific organisation. These responses are provided by over 10,000 individual customers. https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/research-insight/uk-customer-satisfaction-index

Written by: Stephen Pace, SJS Solutions CEO.

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 watch the latest extract from our “Using Neuroscience to tackle workforce issues in contact centres webinar series… https://youtu.be/Axl4tESuuGk

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 our next webinar: https://www.sjssolutions.com/newsletter-sign-up/

New figures from TTi Groups’ 24 Month Bench Mark Report suggests that Utility Companies which offer solid traditional contact centre services are at an advantage to those trying to push customers to use new technology.

So who’s been getting the basics right and delivering the best Customer Satisfaction and who needs to consider a back-to-basics approach? Well according to this study which includes 15 utility companies of varying sizes, there are some clear stand outs and congratulations in order to: Bristol Energy, OVO and Affinity Water.

At the bottom of the league table and where failings seem to lie in basic stuff like “Ease of Contact” we find Npower and Scottish Power. Not only worsed performers but a huge 27% deficit in performance compared to 13th place Utilita.

Customer Satisfaction League Table (using TTi Results)

Rank Name Result
1 Bristol Energy 9.25
2 Ovo Energy 8.78
3 Affinity Water 8.44
4 Anglian Water 8.00
5 Utility Warehouse 8.00
6 First Utility 7.76
7 Unified Utilities 7.50
8 Thames Water 7.00
9 EON 6.77
10 EDF Energy 6.68
11 SSE 6.56
12 British Gas 6.31
13 Utilita 6.25
14 Npower 4.56  ↓27%
15 Scottish Power 4.16

Learn how to use Neuroscience to improve or maintain your CSAT rankings with this free Webinar recording – https://www.sjssolutions.com/landing/watch-our-webinar-2/

To read the full report / source: https://www.tti-global-research.co.uk/utilities-sector-update-customer-satisfaction-benchmark-report

75% OF EMPLOYEES QUIT BOSSES, NOT JOBS

Even if you manage a small team, when you align the way you; measure, manage and motivate them I guarantee you’ll uncover hidden potential which will allow these employees to achieve more than they ever imagined, by doing so they will surprise you. As they grow they become more engaged and fulfilled making them grateful, giving you what you desire most…..

ALMOST 70% OF EMPLOYEES RECEIVE NO RECOGNITION

If you don’t have time to recognise the efforts of your employees, purchase software which does that job for you, even when you forget to.  Replace dashboards and traditional wallboards that focus on what’s going wrong and instead re purpose these TV screens to create SCARF compliant, brain centric content capable of driving and rewarding the behaviour you want. Learn more – https://www.sjssolutions.com/2019/08/20/how-neuroscience-guarantees-to-solve-your-workforce-issues/

ONLY 25% OF EMPLOYERS HAVE AN EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY

This is an Open Goal!!! And the best news you’ll ever get. In other words, if you start to focus on Employee Engagement today you’ll instantly have an unfair competitive advantage over three quarters of your competitors. Where do I sign? Add to that the joy you and your employees will experience when they start to feel valued, respected and fairly treated. Plus how much easier your job will be with the support, gratitude and respect of your team and surely it’s a no brainer.

P.S. It doesn’t have to be a complicated “change program” you can start by simply asking your employees what they like about working at your place vs others they’ve worked at and what would make them feel more valued?   

INCREASED ENGAGEMENT CAN INCREASE PROFITS BY AS MUCH AS 21%

Done correctly your employee engagement efforts will pay off at a level you could never have imagined. Your workforce issues will reduce, your costs will drop and your customer rankings will soar.

“Happy Employees = Happy Customers”

LACK OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT IS COSTING COMPANIES OVER $450 BILLION PER YEAR

Where do most of your costs occur?  Is it IT, office space, marketing, keeping the vending machine stocked? No! It’s your people. So it makes sense that when you meet employee needs your workforce issues start to go away and your company will start save money. 

The best part is when you meet the needs of your employees, your needs will also be met and your life gets easier. There is nothing more tiring and stressful than trying to hit targets when your team are disengaged.

For more about how SJS can help you create brain centric, SCARF compliant environments which support your employee engagement plan, start a conversation with us today – https://www.sjssolutions.com/contact/

Thank you to Martin Luenendonk of cleverism.com for sharing these 5 facts and inspiring me to write this blog.

So what if Optymyse is the world’s most flexible contact center wallboard software? Does that mean it will help you tackle costly issues like absenteeism, stress, employee disengagement and staff churn?

YES! SJS have been optimizing contact centers since 2001, before this our founder was managing, auditing and optimizing contact centers all over the world. When you choose Optymyse not only are you getting the very latest browser-based Screen Designer Technology, along with a super simple deployment process (Cloud or On Premise), you also gain access to our experience along with the very latest research into how the human brain behaves in the workplace.

The combination of Contact Center Experience, Neuroscience and Technology guarantees that Optymyse will outperform any other wallboard solution on the market.

Here are some examples of what you’ll learn when you purchase Optymyse:

• When you use our data integration tools to create a fair and rounded view of agent performance across all activities rather than a one sided, unfair call handling wallboard, the science shows that you’ll meet agent needs by being Fair and increasing their Status, this results in higher engagement, less stress and a higher desire to do well.

• When you use Optymyse Boolean Triggers to reduce unnecessary negative “Calls Waiting” and instead create triggers which combine multiple metrics, not only do you ensure your agents have instant access to the right advice at the right time, the science shows you reduce stress, increase Fairness, Autonomy and Certainty.

• Use our advanced scheduling and guarantee you always make a fuss of agents when they have a birthday, work anniversary, achieve an award or use it to keep agents informed of new product releases, new processes and good news stories. These techniques are scientifically proven to create stronger teams by increasing Relatedness.
Along with triggering training content to appear when agents are not adhering to certain rules and creating a strong feeling of brand belonging, making your contact center SCARF compliant will reduce your most costly and challenging people problems.

If you would like to receive a branded, customized Optymyse wallboard please visit the optymyse.com website, alternatively you can contact [email protected] and request access to our latest webinar “Using Neuroscience to tackle Workforce Issues” , schedule a call back or visit us at sjssolutions.com.

Are you a Contact Centre or CX Pioneer? If so, do you agree with Sir Richard Branson and believe putting your employees first is the quickest way to reach your goals and beyond? Or are you just fed up of dealing with lack luster employees, absenteeism, disengagement or the hassle of replacing agents? If you agree with either of these then the free webinar SJS is running (3rd of September 2019) is a good use of you time.

This event will furnish you with new, scientifically proven techniques and knowledge and give you the confidence and power to increase human performance, wellness and engagement in any type of helpdesk, call or contact centre environment. We’ll also demonstrate exactly how you can quickly create brain centric environments in a matter of hours.

It’s not rocket science – It’s Neuroscience!

Don’t miss out, places are limited, Register Today!

Every business on the planet wants to increase employee engagement, reduce absenteeism and mental health issues and create environments which are capable of improving human performance and wellness. We all know when our employees are happy their lives, our lives and the lives of our customers are better, this results in the best customer satisfaction, profitability, as well as making the lives of managers a lot easier.

We’ve all read that we need to treat people fairly, respect our employees, support them and make them feel important, but do we all understand the science behind this advice?

First of all the neuroscientist found that those employees who are experiencing any kind of “Social Pain”, for example employees who don’t feel they fit in or who believe they are unfairly treated or undervalued, will deliver their worst performance. These employees are more likely to suffer from mental illness, take time off sick, be disengaged and drag others down with them. Makes sense right? So what does the science show? By using MRI technology to scan the human brain, it’s been discovered that the human brain responds to social pain in the same way it would if the person is being subjected to physical pain! Ouch! Literally. The science also shows that the part of the brain that deals with social pain robs the part of the brain responsible for processing new information and ideas of blood and glucose. Therefore impairing; analytical thinking, creative insight and problem solving.

If like me you’re not a scientist, you’re going to need some help translating these findings into a strategy that will align the way you communicate, measure and support your employees. Thus moving them towards what the scientist call the “maximum reward state”- a state of mind where your team function at their highest levels of efficiency, where their hormone levels are balanced and they feel happy, engaged and are far less likely to suffer from mental illness, leave or take time off sick and are more likely to leave your customers delighted time and time again.

This is where the SCARF model comes in, SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness, these are the triggers that will allow you to keep your employees in that maximum reward or engagement state and make achieving your goals a reality.

Status: Remove anything that could reduce the importance of your employees, in the world of contact centres this means replacing traditional call handling wallboards with something that measures the performance of your employees throughout the complete lifecycle of their role, including CSAT, and constantly reminds them of how important they are.

Certainty: Reminding your employees that their jobs are safe and that they work for a great company. Many of our customers achieve this by simply using our virtual notice boards as part of their Optymyse Brain Centric Wallboard templates to announce positive company news, it’s as simple as that.

Autonomy: Be open with your employees, include them in your planning where ever possible and make sure your wallboards are transparent and give them the information they need to solve customer problems, not just a bunch of call handling metrics. This approach will also reduce cognitive load and stress.

Relatedness: We are social animals, which means the main reason your employees continue to work for YOU and not someone else is how connected they feel to others at work. A simple solution is to use the Optymyse scheduling feature to upload images of all your agents and set a birthday message to take over 2 thirds of your screens every time someone has a birthday.  Obviously you need to also keep your key real time metrics on the screen and after the message has been published across all screens for the amount of time you desire, Optymyse will revert back to your standard template, this can be repeated a few times a day and also be used for work anniversaries, or to introduce new starters all contributing to a feeling of “relatedness”

Fairness: How fair is it to place large TV screens on the wall for all to see and only measure a small part of your teams role, to let positive feedback and customer success go unnoticed, or not give these positive events the same level of importance? How fair is it to train your agents in the art of delivering customer care and not share how well they are doing this in the same public manor you display how fast they react to a noise and pick up the telephone (a job a chimpanzee could do)?

ACCORDING TO THE SCIENCE TRADITIONAL WALLBOARDS AND DASHBOARDS REDUCE STATUS AND FAIRNESS.

If you’d like to take a scientific approach to solving workforce issues at your call centre, helpdesk or contact centre, like the sound of higher levels of success and less hassle follow this link and contact a member of our team – https://www.sjssolutions.com/contact/

Michael Jeffares, Service Operations Manager responsible for the Unify OpenScape Contact Centres used by The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) customers told SJS Solutions, the developers of the world’s first Brain Centric Wallboard Solution;

“DVSA are always open to innovative ways to improve both the service we provide to our customers and the well-being of our contact centre employees, which is why I was so delighted with today’s call with SJS Solutions, we gained exactly what we wanted, it proved to be thought provoking and has given us some new ideas and a new angle on how we use our Optymyse Brain Centric Wallboards to improve human performance and wellness.”

SJS Solutions take a unique approach to improving human performance and wellness in call centres, contact centre, sales and helpdesk environments all over the globe, using neuroscience SJS work closely with their clients to ensure they first understand how to create environments which are aligned with the working principles of their employees brains. Then using a scientific approach they empower customers to use their highly flexible wallboard software “Optymyse” to ensure a brain centric, S.C.A.R.F compliant mix of; metrics, intelligent thresholds, messaging and content is delivered to employees.

“We do much more than simply develop outstanding wallboard software; our goal is to educate our audiences to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to create environments capable of improving human performance and wellness. By combining the latest findings into how our brains react to work situations with over 20 years’ experience in Customer Care and CX we help our customers drive real change and improvements.” Stephen Pace, CEO, SJS Solutions Ltd.

If you’re looking for a scientifically proven solution to workforce woes? Click the following link and book a call with a member of our team – www.sjssolutions.com/contact/

About SJS Solutions Ltd: Founded in 2001 SJS Solutions have dedicated over 18 years to the improvement of human performance and wellness at call centres, contact centres, help desks and sales desks across the globe. Using a unique scientific approach, combined with the only Brain Centric Wallboard Solution in the world (www.optymyse.com) SJS deliver the tools to create brain centric environments capable of solving expensive workforce challenges, reducing costs and increasing profits. Optymyse is the only wallboard solution scientifically proven to reduce workforce problems.

Did you know that Neuroscientists have recently discovered that “Social Pain” is dealt with using the same resources, and area of the brain as our biggest fear “Physical Pain”.  In fact at some point today almost all of your CSRs / agents will feel somewhat undervalued, unfairly treated or measured, isolated, uncertain or undervalued and will therefore experience “Social Pain” themselves. It’s not always easy to see this happening, plus a lot of this is happening in the subconscious, you need to be very perceptive which is hard to do when you have so many other challenges to deal with. However the fact remains that any agent who has any of these negative feelings will be in what neuroscientists call the “Minimise Danger State“, a state where oxygen and glucose from their blood is unnecessary used up, forcing their brains to divert resources away from the working memory function, responsible for processing new information and ideas. Therefore impairing; analytical thinking, creative insight and problem solving. This downwards spiral then accelerates as agents in this state deliver poor performance, take less calls and creating more customer complaints resulting in more work for managers and supervisors, and less time to be perceptive and sensitive to your agents wellbeing.

This is why at SJS we don’t simply deliver innovative technological solutions to enhance call and contact centres, instead by combining our advanced wallboard design software “Optymyse” with FREE science based consultancy services, we give you the tools to understand the science behind Human Performance and create Brain Centric Wallboards and environments, capable of increasing agent wellbeing and performance.

Contact us today and we’ll share with you the very same science backed techniques many organisations are paying tens of thousands in consultancy fees to obtain. All we ask is that you’re open minded and ready to challenge traditional metrics and agent performance measurement tools.

“The neuromanagement challenge is to design a work environment in which oxytocin can be released many times during the day.” Kenneth Nowack, Paul J. Zak.

As well as Oxytocin reducing levels of cortisol in the body and lowering blood pressure, it’s release naturally enhances a sense of:

  • Optimism
  • Trust
  • Mastery
  • Self-esteem

So creating an environment where the production of Oxytocin is actively encouraged, will increase Human Performance and Wellness, and help you become a more Brain Centric organisation.

Neuroscience experiments have identified eight classes of organizational and leadership practices that promote the release of oxytocin, and they are all related to trust; a vital requirement for any business to succeed. A trust culture increases productivity, engagement and the retention of high-performing talent.

In the world of visual communication trust can be improved by simply sharing more information with employees, instead of only displaying call handling metrics. Start to share metrics from other sources such as CSAT and NPS, introduce virtual noticeboards to allow the transfer of important information and make sure you include positive triggers to recognise great performance.

Social recognition in humans causes the brain to release oxytocin, which then induces the brain’s reinforcement learning chemical, “dopamine”, to be released. Dopamine is part of the brain’s learning circuit, reinforcing behaviours and therefore reducing errors and improving human performance.

Trust is a key driver for Employee Engagement, Satisfaction and the production of Oxytocin

To encourage Oxytocin, increase Human Performance and Wellness, and become a more Brain Centric organisation, Contact SJS Today

 (Kenneth Nowack is a psychologist and president and co-founder of Envisia Learning and Ofactor Inc., a management consulting firm. Paul J. Zak is founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University and also the chief research officer and co-founder at Ofactor.)