If improving your customer service experience and upgrading your contact center has you stressed, imagine what it’s like for your customer service employees. As companies around the world undergo a paradigm shift from mass service to mass personalization, it’s not surprising that contact centers are experiencing high employee absence rates and attrition.
To combat this trend, let’s assume you’re looking after the basics of employee morale by paying a competent salary and benefits, maintaining a pleasant working environment that includes well-stocked and quiet break areas, and keeping on top of common but easily addressed employee irritations like HVAC issues and parking concerns.
If you want to take it to the next level and get your agents truly excited to come to work every day, you need to provide them…
- A team to be a part of.
In this time of industry upheaval, your agents will function better when they feel they’ve been kept in the loop. Have weekly touch-base meetings to keep them abreast of the latest departmental developments and to keep their goals in focus. Strive for transparency in company goals, team goals, and their own goals. Finally, build the team from within, and establish career development plans to help agents prepare for their next career moves.
- Something meaningful to do.
Encourage your agents to think of their work in terms of individuals helped; give them the autonomy to solve the problems that are brought to them and to go the extra mile for your customers when necessary.
Looking at “meaningful” from another angle, do you have agents who would be motivated by the opportunity to work from home? Remote working empowers your agents and demonstrates trust — and if your contact center is cloud-based, any agent could work from anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Some of the money saved by moving to the cloud could be put toward tangibly improving your agents’ work/life balance through childcare vouchers, gym-membership discounts, etc. And that’s the kind of action that increases staff retention.
Other advances in customer relationship management could also make your agents’ work more meaningful:
- Implement interactive voice response and web self-service so your customers can answer their own most common questions, freeing your staff to work on more challenging and interesting issues.
- Empower your agents through fully integrated systems that offer full visibility into customer interactions.
- Deploy workforce management systems to maximize efficiency through the automation of planning and scheduling.
- Something new to learn.
According to the 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Summary Report, 42 percent of contact centers forecast a reduction in voice contacts, while 87 percent expect an increase in non-voice interactions; but at the same time, only 35 percent of agents are trained across voice and non-voice channels. Omnichannel CRM systems can help alleviate employee dissatisfaction, as agents can spread their time across voice, email, web chat, and social media.
Of course, implementing these advances requires a higher level of training – even ongoing training – that should be made a priority. For their part, employees see training and development efforts as the company’s investment in them – which is why 68 percent of workers surveyed by EdenRed in 2016 said training/development is the most important workplace policy.
- Recognition for a job well done.
Globally, contact centers report that agent productivity remains at high levels; have you thanked your team for their efforts? Don’t underestimate the power of genuine gratitude, particularly when it’s expressed publicly; a basic “gratitude structure” could encourage recognition from coworkers all the way through company-wide kudos. More formally, consider implementing an employee recognition system that is well structured, well communicated, and achievable.
- Ways to be heard.
Your agents communicate on your company’s behalf all day, but have you provided avenues for them to communicate with the company? This could be as basic as the old-school suggestion box or expand into regularly scheduled brainstorming sessions for addressing team concerns and creating new center initiatives. Of course, this is only effective if the communication is two-way; employees need to see actions being taken due to their input. You can make this step even more meaningful by installing a calibrated, repeatable system for measuring employee satisfaction.
- The vision of a bigger role.
According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 63 percent of executives say silos within the organization and a lack of integrated information systems are the two biggest obstacles standing in the way of improving the customer experience. Your agents can play a role in reducing these obstacles. As excellent customer service becomes more important to today’s businesses, your most successful agents have the opportunity to become true stars in the company. Involve them in developing staff training for their own teams, potentially becoming in-house subject matter experts. Take it one step further by offering them the chance to use their expertise to fill larger roles within the company as silos are broken down.
Make retention easier through technology
Virtual Hold Technologies has been making contact center agents’ lives easier since 1995. They invented virtual queuing technology, hold numerous call center technology patents, and have products proven to drive stronger NPS scores. Ask them how their applications like Callback, Navigator and VHT Cloud can get help your agents pumped every day.