Want to Delight Customers? Put Your People First
Learn More About DAT Solutions: 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Winner for Best Small Contact Center
“It’s evident this company considers employees as their greatest asset. It’s nice to see the way this team measures success and then develops action plans to continue to improve.” — 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Judges
A Focus on Employee Development
There’s a stigma surrounding work in the contact center. No one dreams of growing up and becoming a contact center agent. The movies, TV shows, and memes circulating on social media make contact center work seem like a thankless, dead-end job. And let’s be honest; it often is a stressful way to earn a living. DAT Solutions, winner of the 2017 ICMI Global Contact Center Award for Best Small Contact Center, is working hard to change this.
“One of the areas we take pride in is our ability to invest in employee development with career road-mapping and formal/informal training,” says Laura Mendoza, Senior Director of Customer Support at DAT Solutions. “We found that when we show a genuine interest in the development and success of our staff, we end up with a team of engaged, motivated, and dedicated employees. Having clear career goals also fosters a sense of stability and job security.”
How do they do it? Their strategy goes beyond regular quality checks and monthly one-on-one sessions. They’ve designed a development program that helps employees meet their career objectives, with a goal of moving into other roles within the company. Management works with each agent to develop a career path, and the results have been impressive. Employees who started in the DAT solutions contact center are now in senior and middle management positions, quality assurance, operations, IT, product development and sales roles.
When an employee is promoted, the entire team receives a notification that highlights the achievements that led to the decision. This demonstrates and reinforces the ongoing commitment to career development, and encourages employees to take charge of their next steps, explore new positions, and aspire to grow.
While attrition can be challenging for contact center leaders, Mendoza values the benefits of internal attrition.
“The biggest compliment we can receive is when one of our employees moves into another area of the business,” she says.
An Emphasis on Peer-to-Peer Training
The way DAT Solutions approaches agent training and empowerment even further demonstrates their people-first mentality. They arm their employees with a variety of tools and technologies, including an internal knowledge base; but agents are also prompted to help each other learn.
Mendoza says when agents are unable to find answers quickly, they are encouraged to reach out to their teammates. Everyone is expected to help one another, and their call handle time goals provide enough flexibility to allow this without impacting individual agent performance.
Their open office environment with low walls encourages collaboration and transparency, and the leadership team sits in the middle of the contact center floor, which allows agents to get immediate answers to their questions, side-by-side help, and special authorizations when needed. This collaborative environment fosters teamwork, brainstorming, and problem-solving.
Fostering a Fun Work Environment
Life at DAT Solutions is not only collaborative, it’s fun! When you picture life in an 8-hour per day cubicle job, you may imagine a scene from Office Space, but that’s not what life is like for DAT Solutions employees. The company works hard to provide meaningful outlets for stress relief, celebration, and recognition. And they have a good time! How do they do it?
- Food- Food carts visit the DAT Solutions contact center twice per month and the company regularly provides lunch for employees.
- Spot Awards — While a simple and sincere “thank you” is always encouraged, agents are also given $5-$25 gift cards when they’re “caught” doing things that align with company core values. For example, managers watch out for customer compliments, agents working overtime, employees helping another teammate, or agents earning a high quality score.
- Happy Hour — You may think happy hour is all about drinks, but not in this case. Managers, supervisors, and team leads will often take an agent’s place for an hour, allowing them to go home early or take an extended lunch while their boss covers for them. This not only provides the agent with bonus paid time off, but it allows managers to regularly experience the challenges of a front-line agent, and uncover opportunities to improve established procedures.
- Celebrations — Managers recognize life changing events like birthdays, promotions, weddings and the birth of a new child. Agents participate by signing greeting cards, decorating cubicles, and planning wedding/baby showers. This makes coworkers feel more like family.
What’s Next for the DAT Solutions Team?
Speaking of celebrations, the DAT Solutions team continues to celebrate their big award win! The day after the ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Party, their contact center was adorned with festive decorations and employees enjoyed free food and a champagne toast. They’re keeping the festivities going with public recognition at corporate meetings, team outings, and a team party. Mendoza has a a few other surprises up her sleeves, too!
While they’re certainly proud of the recognition, the DAT Solutions customer care team is not resting on their laurels. Over the next year, Mendoza says her team is focused on hiring and retaining career-minded contact center agents and continuing to mentor, coach, and develop the amazing team they already have in place. Their goal is keep up with growing customer expectations. Specifically, they’re exploring ways to respond to customers faster, and they’re looking to utilize social media and self-service to do so.
Advice for Future ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Applicants
If you think 2018 is your year to shine, the team at DAT Solutions has a few tips to help you prepare for awards season!
- Learn from your peers! Take every opportunity you get to visit other contact centers. (You’ll have plenty of chances in September at ICMI Contact Center Demo & Conference)
- Look for community networking events. Join local associations, or start a monthly coffee meetup for other contact center leaders in your area. Prefer virtual networking? Join #ICMIchat every Tuesday at 1:00 ET!
- Take advantage of ICMI’s educational materials. Mendoza says members of her team regularly tune in for free ICMI webinars. They’ve also utilized ICMI training courses.
- Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you. Mendoza attributes the success of her team to her people, which is evident in their people-first approach.
Want to learn more? Watch this video tour of the DAT Solutions contact center!
This post first appeared on icmi.com.