Credit: Multi-ethnic business people in a call center with headset on
Contact centres have historically experienced high staff churn rates and, in some instances, it’s not hard to see why. Outbound sales can be a tough gig, as can the unsociable hours that working in a contact centre that opens early and shuts late entails. Bearing the brunt of customer ire can also take its toll, particularly on agents operating in challenging sectors such as collections, or on the front line in complaints.
Constant comings and goings can be disruptive and expensive – consider the hundreds or even thousands of hours a year needed to recruit and train agents and nurse them up to speed – and bad for customer service and experience.
Given attracting and keeping customers is a critical imperative in today’s challenging economic times, taking steps to improve your agent retention rate makes sound commercial sense. Here are five ways to help you keep your contact centre team on the job for the longer.
Retaining employees starts with learning to pick candidates who are likely to stick around. That may mean devoting more time and effort to the recruitment process. Identify the personality traits needed to succeed in your contact centre – if it’s customer service focused, for example, then good listening skills and a healthy dose of compassion are a must – take the time to interview applicants thoroughly, test them in situ and scrutinise their references can reduce the chances of your having to repeat the whole exercise (again) in three months’ time.
Joining a new organisation isn’t always easy and rookies who are left to sink or swim may very well do the latter – off to another employer who gives them the support they need to find their feet and fit in. Investing in an onboarding and training program which educates new hires about the company’s ethos, systems and the key performance indicators by which they’ll be judged will ensure they understand your expectations and are set for success from the get-go.
We all like to know how we’re doing and feedback given in a timely manner is generally the most effective. Regular review sessions with agents, weekly or even daily if yours is a high-volume contact centre, should be used to highlight interactions, good, bad and ugly. As well as providing your team with constructive feedback on areas where they can improve, it’s an opportunity to give praise for a job well done.
Provide a performance roadmap
For some agents, their job in your contact centre will be just that – a job. Others may have their sights set on higher goals and, if so, creating a performance road map to help them to achieve them – with your organisation – is critical. Fail to do so and they’re likely to look elsewhere, for an organisation that’s prepared to invest in their career and future.
Debrief and improve
In 2020 Australia, job-for-lifers are an increasingly rare breed. At some point, even the happiest agents will move on and obtaining their feedback before they leave is a worthwhile exercise. If they’ve been unhappy, it may be insightful to know why, as it’s possible they’re a bellwether whose departure will precede a stampede to the door. Conversely, if they’ve enjoyed every moment in your employ, understanding what’s kept them sweet can help ensure you persist with policies and practices that are serving you well.
Daniel Harding, Director of Australian Operations, MaxContact