Imagine: A call center that focuses on communicating with customers, but that doesn’t know how to communicate with one another. Sounds like an ironic conundrum, right? But it can be shocking how call centers experiencing quick growth forget to set up processes for internal communication.
Open lines of communication are a lifeline. No, really. The lack of, or even poor, internal communication will have a direct impact on both your customer and employee experience. It’s something you can’t afford to skimp out on.
So how do we start improving internal communication in call centers? Let’s take a look at what effective communication looks like.
What is effective communication?
It almost sounds too easy, doesn’t it? At face value, this should mean that members of a conversation have discussed effectively. Let’s break it down a little further to paint a clearer picture.
Effective communication is a clear exchange of thoughts, words and information between two or more parties. There should be a successful give and take of one’s thoughts and responses. As a leader, the communication should generally contain more listening than speaking to ensure it’s effective overall. You can efficiently, and quickly, address more concerns this way.
By the end of the discourse, all members of the conversation should be able to walk away with a clear understanding of what just happened.
What good communication looks like
Good, effective communication ends up developing the sight of a thriving environment. Your goal as management is to motivate employees and recognize excellence. If your foundation starts with clearly communicating expectations, tactfully disseminating wrongdoings and offering a clear growth plan, then you can safely look forward to a rockstar team that is flourishing.
Building a sense of being “kept in the know” takes care of most of your problems. Frustration simmers when team members are constantly left out of expectations, policies or just general company news.
Tone is also key. The cliche of “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” goes for working relationships as well. Couple the act of keeping employees in the know with a respectful and considerate tone. These two components are the main ingredients to bringing good communication to life in the workplace.
Done wrong versus done right
Oftentimes, it’s just a thoughtless exchange of words that undermines us. When we decide to not be intentional with our words, we begin doing a disservice to those we speak to. Remember: Being unclear is being unkind.
Take a look at this example and how just slight tweaks in verbiage can make a huge difference, both in your teams’ experience and your expectations being met.
- Unclear approach:
“Hey James, will you work on that report for me we talked about last week? Thanks!’
“Sure thing, boss!”
This is a scenario that seems easy and harmless enough, but could quickly be interpreted into a lot of unmet expectations, or deadlines. If your team does not have the relational equity with you, they may not feel comfortable asking for clarification in that moment (and with following up afterward, too).
Items missing that could save some heartache:
- Which specific report?
- When is the deadline?
- Do you need it in a specific format?
- Does anyone else need to work on it or need to review it?
- Clear approach:
“Hey James! Will you work on the AHT report we discussed last Wednesday? I’d love it if you could have a PDF of it sent to the analyst team lead and myself by this Friday.”
Tips to communicate effectively
Opening the lines of communication is the first step to making it effective.
1. Start with holding regular team meetings. Whether they be weekly, biweekly or monthly, you should have a dedicated time where the tribe comes together. It’s necessary to ensure you’re all on the same page, able to clear out any confusion and build comradery to make your teammates feel they’re a part of something.
2. Prepare the five Ws and H when presenting tasks to your teams where possible. If you already provide the important details up front, you minimize the margin of errors and repetitive questions down the line. Rather than having to continue correcting tasks due to misinformation, have these elements ready before charging your people with hazy tasks.
3. Be available and present. It’s a simple concept that few have mastered. This doesn’t mean to be a doormat or allocate all your time to nothing but answering questions. Rather, make sure you have reasonable times you can be reached that are known amongst your team. Regarding being present is where the true listening aspect aforementioned comes into play. A big one these days: Put your phone away. It’s a telltale sign you’re not really attentive or engaged with what someone has to say if you’re intermittently distracted from the conversation at hand.
Work hard, play hard (or at least a little)
Fun communication can be a necessary brain break. Taking the occasional moment to have a fun discussion not related to work can have such an effect on corporate morale. Sometimes, you just need a win in the day. And that sometimes looks like a small discussion on bingeable Netflix series or a great exchange of memes. Having time or space to do those can give your teammates the fuel to get through the day, and even be peppy about it.
Nobody liked Miss Trunchbull after all, right? If you decide to be a Grinch that can’t allow for a laugh or two, you can’t be surprised when people look at you as a Grinch. You can’t treat people like machines because at the end of the day, they’re not. It doesn’t mean everything has to be games. But introducing lightheartedness here and there will be a lot more advantageous than you’d initially think.
You frequently hear that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. Bad management often boils down to the way you communicate. From a business perspective, if we know that employee experience directly impacts customer experience, then you can’t afford advocating poor communication. Do you, your teams and the company a service and practice good, open communication.