There is one aspect that really stands out with a successful contact centre and that is their ability to retain great people. Are these positive people that simply thrive in the contact centre environment or does the company itself have a lot of influence on keeping them there? Perhaps it’s a bit of both, but for those contact centres that think that high attrition rates are the acceptable norm in the industry, it turns out there is a lot to learn from the companies getting it right.
There’s a saying: “Look after your people and they will look after your customers.” Simply put, investing in agent engagement and getting it right can have a direct impact on your business bottom line. When customers are served well, they come back. When agents are happy, they stay and your business becomes the sought after place to work. News spreads and your industry reputation grows. These are just a few of benefits from getting front-line engagement right.
It starts with Company Culture
Everyone from the MD to the cleaner has a role to play in the daily vibe and atmosphere of the working environment and leaders should consider what impacts agents positively. For example: While it’s important to have controls and policies in place, is super strict enforcement hindering rather than helping? Are metrics being pushed to the point of where agents will do just about anything to retain good scores to keep their jobs? Including rushing through customer calls? Or is there a culture of: “We want to you serve our customers well. What do you need to do that? More time? Better systems? More training?”
Sometimes it something as simple as explaining the value of metrics to agents to get them to embrace them as tools to help them improve, rather than just feeling as though big brother is watching over them. Understanding the ‘why’ can help agents see the bigger picture and the important role that they have to play.
A company that has a culture of investing in their agents, has a certain vibrancy and positive energy about it. That is the norm you want to be aiming for with your agents, having people coming to work because they’re excited to be there, rather than trudging through the door with long faces.
Value downtime and recreation. Arrange social events away from the office or provide a space where agents can relax and enjoy their lunch break away from their desks. A few comfortable couches, an outdoor garden area or a recreation room with a nice view can provide a place to escape and recharge their batteries for a short while.
Effective Two Way Communication
Initiate positive and open communication channels by rewarding and recognizing your best agents. Let them know that they are valued and they’re more like to engage with you and share what’s important to them. You can then use this information to empower them beyond taking customer calls. For example: if they have a caring heart and want to get involved in the local community, ask them to lead a charity project and encourage them to get others involved.
Conducting engagement surveys is another to way to get feedback from agents. Be sure to act on the feedback that is provided. When you do this it communicates to agents that you do take into account what’s important to them and they’re far more likely to continue to share information.
Remember that agents also have direct access to customers and that by promoting open communication channels within the company, agents are more likely to share valuable customerinformation when they know their input will be considered and acted upon.
From the day that a new agent enters the company they should feel as though they are part of something great. A warm welcome, thorough induction and interactive training sessions can help them find their feet in the first few weeks. Pair them up with a senior agent who can help to mentor them and be available should they have any questions.
As they settle into their role, provide ongoing training so that they feel as though they are learning and developing themselves and their career. When this development happens where they are, they’re less likely to look to greener pastures elsewhere and you have a greater chance of retaining them in your business. As new technology becomes available, provide agents with the tools and training that they need to embrace it effectively. The variation provided by an omni-channel customer contact strategy is great for engagement!
Even when agents choose to leave, don’t let them just walk out the door. Conduct exit interviews to find out more about why they are leaving and what their experience was like working for you. You may not be able to change their minds about leaving, but you can gain valuable information on how to improve and to continue to retain your best agents.