Managing empowerment involves at least four steps:
1.Select the appropriate level of empowerment. Listen to this 1998 quote from Mohammad Rafiq and Perval Amid:
“It is argued that appropriate levels and types of empowerment given to employees depend on a combination of the complexity (or variability) of customer needs and the degree of task complexity (or variability) involved in delivering the customer needs.”
We help organizations align the level of empowerment to the complexity and variability of their customer contacts.
2.Build an infrastructure to support the appropriate level of empowerment so that agents know what the guidelines are and what support systems and resources are available. Make sure that the infrastructure is flexible—empowerment needs to change with the evolving marketplace, new technology, and the increasing number of tasks that you are handling.
3.Drive accountability for empowerment to the lowest level practical. For example, one organization gives the frontline team the responsibility for developing its own empowerment processes. The frontline knows better than anyone what types of contacts come in and the barriers that exist in handling them. Employees are held accountable for handling all of the customer needs within the scope of their empowerment.
4.Constantly monitor how empowerment is working. Some managers use weekly coaching sessions with real life examples to help agents understand what is acceptable within the boundaries of empowerment.
We have to think about the level of empowerment that we give our employees, and our decision should depend on the complexity of the job and the type of customer contacting the center. And, we have to follow up with the infrastructure, accountability, and monitoring necessary to sustain our efforts. Do you agree?
Do you have empowered agents? If yes, how difficult is empowerment to manage?