Reducing Contact Center Agent Attrition

Agent attrition can be one of the most costly changes affecting the contact center environment. With an average turnover rate of 30% for contact centers, managers must take preemptive measures to reduce agent attrition.

So – how can you reduce attrition in your contact center?

Before you can improve attrition, you have to first understand what causes it. Ask yourself this: Are agents getting the training and coaching that they need to feel confident answering questions from customers? Do they have the right knowledge and skills to perform the job? Do agents have a good relationship with their supervisors? Is there a clear career path for agents?

In addition to interacting with customers and keeping them satisfied, contact center agents have many other off-phone responsibilities, including going through training and coaching that enables them to perform their job to the best of their ability.

Unfortunately, finding the time to train, coach and communicate with agents’ remains a challenge for many centers. Without proper training and job preparation, many agents become frustrated and end up walking out the door not long after they receive their first few paychecks.

The truth is that when agents don’t have the training and coaching they need, their performance suffers. Poor performing agents are less satisfied with their jobs and ultimately more likely to leave your company. And every time an agent leaves, it means big bucks for your company. By incorporating the following recommendations, you can help reduce attrition within your contact center.

Hire Agents That Are a Good Fit & Improve New Hire Trainingcontact-center-supervisor
When hiring, consider personality, communication skills, cultural fit, team-oriented attitudes and the skills of the applicant. Be sure to clearly define job roles, common tasks and performance expectations so your applicant will know what is expected of them, and can opt out of the job if it is not a good fit.

Hiring the right agents for the job and then providing those agents with the necessary training and coaching they need to do their jobs well, will lead to a more satisfied, engaged and effective agent workforce overall, which ultimately leads to more satisfied customers.

Increase Training & Communications
Providing proper training and having a good communication system in place is the key to any successful business.  It is important that each agent go through the same thorough training with adequate time to acquire the necessary knowledge to successfully complete their job duties, to become acculturated with the company’s values and to build a good working relationship with colleagues.

Give Agents Responsibilities to Motivate Them
Attrition is a major problem and coming out with an apt solution is a tough task to accomplish.  To succeed in reducing attrition companies need to understand and focus on the areas that motivate and de-motivate employees first and then focus on the remaining areas that require immediate attention.  While many believe that pay and benefits have the most significant impact on attrition, companies should be careful to not make the mistake of ignoring other variables as well.

Give them responsibilities right away, that way, they’ll understand the importance of their position.  It is important that employees feel like part of the team, and understand what the business is striving for and the part that they have to play in making it happen.  It is important that the agents have clearly defined expectations, that they receive feedback based on these expectations and that they know who to talk with when they have an issue or concern.

Implement Supervisor-Agent Coaching Programs
Management must be visible. It is essential that your team sees you, whether walking the floor to supervise their work or just checking to see how they are doing.  This will also help in increasing your team’s motivation.  Management teams should embrace a coaching culture and encourage collaboration among contact center agents. Agents who are coached with constructive feedback, provided with valuable insights and given personal attention are more effective and are also more likely to enjoy their work. Also, when agents can rely on their colleagues for support and guidance, they will be more likely to feel like they are a part of the team and will stay with the company longer.

Let Agents Know They’re Valued
Enhance recognition and implement a rewards program for agents. This will enhance motivation and help agents to build collective moral and engagement with their work. However, it is imperative that when it comes to incentives, be sure to follow through and deliver on the promises and commitments that you made. Broken promises will lead to mistrust and dissatisfied agents.

You can also increase job satisfaction and performance with opportunities for agents to learn new skills and new technologies. Not only will they stay with your team longer, they will be more competent and confident performing their work-related duties.

Promote Agent Career Paths
Offer continuous opportunities for promotion. Most open positions within call centers are filled by promoting internal candidates. By continuously offering opportunities for promotion, agents are incentivized to work harder at their job. It is important to also be sure to promote top performers. Agents who feel that excellence leads to career progress and better opportunities will be more engaged with their work and with your company.

customer-experience

In conclusion, it is on call center managers and supervisors to train agents effectively so that agents will be properly prepared to meet customer needs, as well as the overall job expectations required of them. Following the aforementioned tips will help create better communications in the work place, enhance your training curriculum and management, and retain your hired agents more effectively.

Ultimately, create a happier work environment for your agents, so that they in turn can provide amazing service for your customers, and reduce the risks of agent attrition for your business.

 

Lu Gutierrez is the Director of Human Resources at Stratus Contact Solutions. She has been with the company since 1997 and has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Previously, Lu worked with a variety of telecom companies through mergers and acquisitions, including WorldCom, Metromedia, and LDS. Currently, her responsibilities include employee recruitment, payroll, benefits and employee relations for all of Stratus.  

How to Recruit (and Keep) the Best Contact Center Agents

With a new year now underway, it’s time for companies to review and ramp up their process for finding, selecting and retaining qualified agents. It is a known fact that contact centers and other customer service employees are critical to the success of any company, so it’s important that you recruit the right agent.

Before beginning the hiring process, it is crucial to know exactly the type of agent that is needed. How to identify these individuals is the key to an effective recruiting process. Here are a handful of the must-have characteristics and underlining traits for any good contact center agent:

  • Communication skills (both verbal and written): First and foremost, an agent should be someone who is able to communicate effectively. Our Stratus contact center agents answer hundreds of calls per week and are required to track those calls by documenting the nature and resolution of each call performed. This makes it imperative that all agents are able to listen and communicate with a wide variety of callers, on a variety of issues and provide quality customer service.
  • Dependability: Specific traits that underline dependability within the call center include the ability to be punctual and reliable. Agents are expected to be where they promise to be on time, showing that they can follow through on commitments, etc.
  • Multi-tasking Skills: Agents must be able to answer a call and annotate a tracking system, all while figuring out the best resolution.
  • Analytical Skills: A contact center agent must be a problem solver. One must have the ability to break down a problem and find the best solution in a timely fashion.
  • Detailed Oriented: Having an attention to detail is a must for any agent in the contact center because one wrong, misused or missing word or step in the call tracking process can snowball into a big problem. Poor documentation could lead to duplicate work and repeat callers, making those calls a little tougher to handle.
  • High Integrity: Agents with strong integrity will be less likely to try to mislead or trick potential customers. Traits to look for include demonstration of ethical behavior when confronted with choices that place self-interest over the interest of others.
  • Confidence: A good agent should also be confident but not cocky. By being confident in their own abilities, agents will be able to perform better under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.

By utilizing certain steps, call centers can significantly improve the recruiting process for their organization. Only once the most desired employee traits have been identified, should your organization begin the actual interview process for potential call center agents.

During this interview process, honesty is the best policy. Be clear to potential hires about exactly what is expected of agents and be as open as possible about company policies. This will help to decrease risk of disgruntled agents down the road and, by correlation, help in retaining trained agents and lowering the staffing turnover rate.

Always recruit in numbers if possible and never hire one agent at a time. Hiring in groups – preferably in classes of no more than ten agents – allows the new agents to go through the training and induction process together, where they will benefit from learning from one another. This also allows the new agents to bond with one another so that they feel more confident to ‘go live’ on the contact center floor at the same time.

It’s also important to note that the training needs to be fun, interactive and engaging for the agents. Having a group environment where agents can ask questions freely and feel comfortable doing so works best.

Lastly, remember that your customers are looking for a friendly, fast, reliable, and knowledgeable customer experience. Putting in place an effective recruiting process to identify candidates with the right qualities listed above will provide you agents that will not only make a great impact on your contact center, but will also stick around for the long term, as they will come into their jobs with the proper expectations and outlook.

 

Lu Gutierrez is the Director of Human Resources at Stratus Contact Solutions. She has been with the company since 1997 and has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Previously, Lu worked with a variety of telecom companies through mergers and acquisitions, including WorldCom, Metromedia, and LDS. Currently, her responsibilities include employee recruitment, payroll, benefits and employee relations for all of Stratus.  

Interview with a Contact Center Expert: Mike Lewis (Part 2)

In an evolving customer service and contact center industry, change is both constant and inevitable. Last week we sat down with contact center expert Mike Lewis, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of ILD Corp. Mike Lewis has spent the past 30 years forming, capitalizing, financing and profitably managing over a dozen successful startup companies. He has been instrumental in driving the creation of a state of the art, multi-channel contact center – ILD Corp’s ‘Stratus Contact Solutions’ – that incorporates social media and traditional call center services. In last week’s blog, we discussed with Mike what the coming year might hold for the contact center industry. Read on for more omnichannel expertise and customer service wisdom! Read more

Interview with a Contact Center Expert: Mike Lewis (Part 1)

Written by Katherine Sherrie

In an evolving customer service and contact center industry, change is both constant and inevitable. We recently sat down with contact center expert Mike Lewis, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of ILD Corp. Mike Lewis has spent the past 30 years forming, capitalizing, financing and profitably managing over a dozen successful startup companies. He has been instrumental in driving the creation of a state of the art, multi-channel contact center – ILD Corp’s ‘Stratus Contact Solutions’ – that incorporates social media and traditional call center services. Read more