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