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All Places > Industry News and Best Practices > Blog > 2018 > January

o matter what industry you serve, one thing is certain; call centers can’t deliver a positive customer experience without the right agents in place. Hiring the right team can make or break any call center, but it takes more than just reviewing qualifications during the hiring process. Leadership and management teams have a responsibility to maintain morale and keep agents happy after they are hired.



When a call center builds a team of trained agents, the last thing they want is for the agent to quit or move on to another company. Agent attrition is an ongoing problem for many call centers across the country. According to Gartner, agent attrition is at its highest during their first 90 days on the job and is a result of being overwhelmed by the responsibilities.  The cost of losing an agent, depending on their experience and responsibilities ranges from $1,500 to $20,000.


The good news is that agents are more likely to remain at a call center when they are happy, and studies show that happier employees are actually more productive. Taking steps to create happy employees becomes a significant win for call centers with:

  • Decreased recruitment and training costs
  • Improved productivity
  • Better customer service
  • Increased customer retention


The big question is how can call center managers and leaders keep their agents happy? We have put together a list with seven tips to help keep your agents happy below.


1.       Skip the micromanaging.

When managers micromanage employees, it can be detrimental to the well-being of any call center. Agents want to feel like management trusts their capabilities. To do that effectively, managers need to have quality leadership skills that inspire employees to perform at their best.


Managers can inspire employees by empowering them to make decisions without having to gain approval first. Create a policy that lists the types of decisions call center agents can make on their own. Train and educate them on how to make these decisions effectively. By doing so, a call center increases morale and creates a better customer experience which results in higher profits.


Implementing speech analytics software is another way to minimize micromanagement, because the software tracks what is happening in the call center based on your criteria. Managers can review and monitor calls from their office to identify an areas of concern. The software also gives agents access to their call data, giving them the ability to self-manage their performance. If an area of their call receives a low score, they know to adjust without being told which makes them feel empowered and requires less effort from management.


2.       Create recognition guidelines.

Recognizing employees for their hard work or going above and beyond is beneficial. But, not every individual likes public recognition. You can recognize employees through rewards, incentives, and public praise. Before you institute a recognition program, it is best to uncover how they want to be recognized. When it comes to negative or constructive criticism, it is crucial these conversations are held privately with the individuals.


3.       Schedule team-building events.

All work and no play is never fun. Agents work better when they enjoy what they are doing and build solid relationships with co-workers. Hosting team building events like office luncheons, socials, or offsite events provides agents a place to talk about their lives, let their walls down, and they learn how to better communicate with others on the team.


Companies can also increase agent engagement through gamification by instituting a structured game and rewarding points based on data tracked in your speech analytics software. If you want to improve first call resolution rates, you can create a game that rewards agents for certain steps they complete on a call. The points can then be redeemed for certain prizes or activities.


4.       Don’t stop educating them.

Agents need knowledge of the products and services you offer. Let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced environment, products and services often change quickly or without notice. Make it a point to continuously offer training, so they don’t get blindsided by customer calls or inquiries.


Call centers that use speech analytics can review real-time data about individual agents or the entire agent team. The data provided makes it easier for managers to identify specific areas on which the whole team needs training. Since no two agents have the same amount of experience, speech analytics software also lets managers personalize training for individual agents based on call scoring and monitoring.


5.       Create a positive culture.

A positive culture breeds positivity from among agents. When negativity breaks into your environment, it festers and makes team members miserable. To create a positive culture, managers need to model the desired attitude. They also need to proactively minimize negativity by listening to agent concerns.


In the past, managers had to manually track agents’ performance or judge them based on a small, random sampling of interactions. Since there was no consistency or evidence of concerns, negative performance conversations could quickly result in a negative assessment of the employee. With speech analytics, managers gain access to objective data regarding performance on 100% of an agent’s interactions, resulting in fairer treatmentof each agent.


6.       Promote from within.

Not every member of a call center agent team wants to remain in the same position indefinitely. When new positions become available, giving agents the opportunity to apply and interview for the spot shows that you value their longevity with the company. To make promotions like these possible, managers should constantly be looking for and molding the next leader through knowledge and trainings, so they are prepared.


7.       Supply the tools they need. 

There is nothing worse than setting expectations of high-quality and quantity customer service for agents and then not supplying them with the right tools. Up-to-date technology like phones and computers are just one piece of the puzzle. They also need easy access to knowledge bases, customer management systems, and feedback on their performance. Interaction or speech analytics software gives agents access to the information they need to improve the customer experience and gives management objective performance data on each agent to that they can tailor coaching and training to their specific needs. By automating the Quality Assurance process, speech analytics also helps improve contact center efficiency, regulatory compliance, and sales and collector performance, which, in the end, also affects agent happiness and customer satisfaction.


Keeping call center agents happy offers many benefits. If you’re currently suffering from high attrition rates, there is no overnight fix to solve the current struggles it creates. Implementing these tips is a good starting point to invoke change in your call center and experience increased productivity, decreased expenses, and create a consistently positive customer experience.


What tactics do you use in your organization to keep agents happy


Employees are arguably the biggest asset of any business. Without the right team in place, businesses can’t properly serve their customers. For call centers, employees are also the biggest expense making how they spend their work time increasingly important to managers. While you can hope that they are actively working every minute of the day, the truth is they probably are not.


What is Call Center Shrinkage?

Call center shrinkage is the number of hours an employee is paid but not productively working. Breaks, lunch, meetings, and absenteeism keep agents from their number one responsibility, answering calls. While some of these workday interruptions can be planned for like vacations, others like sick days cannot. Every second an agent spends not answering phone calls directly impacts your bottom line, customer experience, and call center metrics like speed of answer and customer satisfaction.


How do you Calculate Shrinkage?

There are two types of shrinkage, internal and external. Internal shrinkage is lost time caused by internal operational choices like mandatory trainings, meetings, and system downtime. External shrinkage includes factors out the business’s control like vacations, sick days, and paid holidays. Shrinkage is used by call center managers to properly staff agents.


To calculate shrinkage, you need the following data for the year:

  • Total hours of shrinkage
  • Total hours of available work time


When you have these numbers, you can plug them into the below equation:

  1. Shrinkage percentage= (Total hours of shrinkage/ Total hours of available work time) x 100
  2. This will give your shrinkage percentage to use in the below formula when calculating number of agents to schedule:
  3. Number of employees needed/(1-shrinkage percentage)
  4. For example, if you need 100 agents and your shrinkage percentage is 25 percent.
  5. 100/(1-.25)= 133.33
  6. You would need to staff 133 employees to have full coverage of phone calls.


How can you Eliminate Shrinkage?

Shrinkage can be deadly to a call center. If there are not enough agents to answer calls, customers get frustrated and hang up before being addressed. This can cost you money and cause a bad reputation if it’s ongoing. As a call center manager, you need to take a proactive approach in reducing shrinkage. Here are six tips that can help eliminate shrinkage:


1. Track Schedules.

One way to calculate the amount of internal shrinkage is to require agents to clock in and out while working. The best way to track this is by using a cloud-based application where employees login on their computers. Using a computer based application works best because employees are guaranteed to be at their work station.


These apps allow employees to mark when they take breaks, attend meetings, or participate in trainings. Managers can run reports weekly or monthly to see the amount of time employees spend away from the phone involved in alternate activities.


2. Break it into Categories.

Tracking employee’s daily activity should be detailed to gain better insight. Within your time tracking app, you can create categories for different types of interruptions. This way you can identify if employees are being pulled away for too many meetings/trainings, or if they are abusing lunch or break privileges.


3. Discuss Chronic Absenteeism.

A team is only as strong as their weakest link. Constant sick days and requested time off by one employee can cause problems within the entire team. Identifying employees that take numerous days off is just the start of a solution.


Managers should also hold a meeting with these employees and discuss how it impacts the team and business. The underlying cause for call-offs may be a short-term problem. If it isn’t, it is vital that you make a plan with the individual to change it moving forward and hold them accountable.


4. Use Analytics Software.

When call center agents spend large amounts of time being pulled from their desks to research or track down information it impacts your efficiency and increases shrinkage rates. You can minimize this with the right customer interaction analytics software because it acts as a central hub for client information, knowledge, resources, and real-time data. This eliminates the need for employees to leave their desks for answers. Analytics software can also help you track less obvious sources of shrinkage – like systems that are not optimized or the causes of high average handle times and long periods of silence on calls.


5. Engage Employees.

Keeping employees engaged and excited about their job is especially hard in call centers because of the high stress levels. But, when employees enjoy going to work, feel empowered, and valued, they are less likely to call off unexpectedly.


6. Promote Health and Wellness.

According to the World Health Organization, an employee’s health is directly impacted by their workplace. More and more workplaces are promoting and creating a culture based on healthy life choices. When employees embrace these choices, they take fewer sick days and are more focused at work.

Properly managing shrinkage increases productivity, employee happiness while creating a better customer experience and improving your bottom line.