Call Center managers should not be afraid to wear costumes in the call center, and to use the guise of costumes to create an organizational culture that introduces passion to its employees. If management takes this concept and runs with it, the call center becomes a world of opportunity.
Costumes define “performance” in nearly every setting. Actors in a play wear costumes to bring the play more credibility. Costumes represent fantasy by taking the actors and audience to a different place in time. The performance becomes authenticated. The same goes for sports (football and soccer players), politics (legislators), business (janitorial crews, CEO’s, IT), education (teachers, principles, students), etc. Costumes distinguish roles, and help the players, and the people around the players, to better validate their production.
Call Center management is the essence of performance. That’s why costumes make all the difference. For instance, suppose your call center agents are divided into teams. Management can assign a consistent costume for each team. Every Friday, for example, may be designated as “costume day.” A call center with seven teams may want to take the costume of a baseball team. Supervisors may dress up like the coaches of a team, and players wear uniform tops. There is a great opportunity to build contests, excitement, humor and performance expectations into this special day. Every hour might be an inning; every sale made can be a “run”. Teams can compete against each other for the day. Prizes can be awarded. Other costumes can be based on television shows, other athletic sports, music groups, movies, etc.
When I observe a call center culture, I want to see costumes, or at least a distinction between teams, employees, and departments based on some fashion of costume. This may include hats, glasses, shoes, colors, wristbands, headbands, etc. Many supervisors fail to see the correlation between supervising agents on the telephone and wearing costumes. They don’t have the personal gumption to wear costumes. They feel it’s embarrassing. They see it as self-deprecating. These supervisors have failed to conceptualize the true impact that fantasy has in motivating and coaching agents. Supervisors who fail to wear costumes fail to see how costumes heighten performance. They also fail to remember that their job is a service- oriented job. Supervisors serve agents.
In actuality, actors in a play could wear any outfit they chose to wear on stage – but a small fraction of their performance would be lost in the translation, not to mention a small fraction of character credibility. Costumes bring spirit to a call center. Costumes help to take a tangible objective and focus agents on meeting that objective. I have never seen call center agents fail to reach a goal on a day when our entire call center was dressed in costume. The agents and management were compelled to meet their objectives on that day. This is because costumes are very motivational.
Human beings dress up in costumes for two distinct purposes: to motivate the people around them, and to ensure that the people around them are getting the most from their environment. I have worn various masks and capes in many of the call centers I worked at. They were so motivational, and humorous to the call center agents that I developed contests around my costumes. For example, if we had less than five percent abandoned rate in our queue for a three day period, I would come in on Friday dressed in a costume, and we would give away prizes all centered around the theme of my costume.
Believe me, this stuff works! If you have two agents or two hundred, you can motivate your agents by pretending to be something other than what you usually are. (Don’t we do that every day?) Disappear and become a performer. Don’t be afraid to swallow your pride, or ego, and let loose.