Customer Experience News & Trends

What to do when agents just don’t get along

Getting along with customers is the easy part. It’s the people sitting next to us who cause issues in most contact centers. Here’s what to do.

Call it failure to see eye-to-eye, workplace incivility or a cat fight: When people don’t get along in contact centers, productivity and morale drop.

In fact, a study done by KRC Research found that:

  • 71% of employees think workplace kindness has dropped in recent years
  • 63% believe incivility is a big problem, and
  • 23% have quit a job because of incivility.

When a pair of agents don’t get along, or one agent is particularly unkind to everyone in the center, nearly everyone is affected, researchers found.

That’s why leaders need to take steps when agents don’t get along. It may sound a little like “principal in the schoolyard” but it’s an important role to take before workplace conflict rises.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Avoid jumping in too soon. Some conflicts can fizzle out because it was a one-time event or it actually sparked a creative idea. But once a pattern is established — either by witnessing it or having problems reported — managers must step in, ask them to stop and get both sides of the dispute.
  2. Be a listening post, and demand that the feuding parties be listening posts, too. Give everyone time to share their sides of the issue without interruption. Ask them to share thoughts on where they might compromise to reach a solution.
  3. Establish the biggest problem at hand. Ask each person to define the fundamentals of the conflict until they agree to the underlying issue. Make sure that each person’s major issues are addressed.
  4. Create the solution. With the biggest problem out in the open, work on solutions that benefit everyone (the people at odds, the manager, the department, company and customers — because they all suffer from conflict).
  5. Follow up. Establish a time to meet again to determine whether the solution has worked and the conflict has been resolved.

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