How to Lower Agent Attrition in Your Contact Center

WRITTEN BY MARK DACANAY

How to Lower Agent Attrition in Your Contact Center
Illustration by Gina Park

The call center industry has one of the highest attrition rates in the world, and it is not a surprise. After all, who would not get burnt out listening to customer complaints and frustrations for the most part of the work day?

The problem is that companies view this as something normal. Employees come and go, and this reasoning compels them to put in less effort to keep their employees happy. Or maybe, they just don’t know how to keep people from quitting that they already stopped trying.

Either way, while the job is stressful, there are ways to keep agents engaged and keep them from leaving a company. It is a matter of fully understanding what agents need, not only as professionals, but also as human beings who aren’t devoid of emotions.

To help you out, here are some tips that can help lower agent attrition in your contact centers:

Start with proper recruitment

Begin with how you get employees on board your contact center. We all know that most contact centers have a lot of seats to fill, and high agent attrition does not help the situation. This puts pressure on the recruitment team and hiring managers to fill those seats.

As a result, some companies lower their standards and hire underqualified people. And this is not just being underqualified skills-wise—there is also the consideration if an applicant will fit in mentally and culturally. Are they actually prepared to take on the challenges of working in a stressful environment like a contact center? While you want to avoid hiring people who are not a 100% fit, some contact centers just do not have a choice but to resort to this practice.

One way to address this is to set the right expectations from the start. Provide each applicant with clearly defined job description, common tasks that they will take on, and the level of performance expected of them. This way, you avoid frequent resignations due to workload shock caused by an employee’s expectation that did not match realities in the operations floor.

Do not shortchange agents on training

Another way to address underqualified employees joining your ranks is to supplement them with the skills they need to become fully qualified. This is where training comes in.

This is one area that no company should ever try to scrimp on. Inadequate training can leave agents lacking confidence and feeling frustrated on the floor because they are ill-prepared. All employees should have substantial communications and product training before they are even allowed to talk to one of the customers of the company.

And it does not end there; managers should recognize that some agents need more intensive training compared to others. Managers should coordinate with the training department about continued customized training and coaching for each individual agent.

By personalizing the training and development of agents, you are addressing their specific needs based on their current level of competence. This way, those who need the most attention get it without holding others back.

Improve Agent evaluation through better performance metrics

One of the top stress-inducers in contact centers is performance metrics. The traditional productivity metrics such as average handling time, average calls handled and the like are not really commensurate with providing good customer service. It just means that you are pressuring your agents to resolve problems as quickly as possible. It is weird to see companies prattle about customer service then treat contact centers like a factory assembly line where a number of issues must be resolved at a certain time.

If you really care about customers, you would start with metrics that will measure call quality and customer satisfaction, rather than the number of calls handled by each agent, and the time it takes them to get done with one. This should result in happier customers because agents are more focused on resolving their concern than ending the call quickly. This also reduces pressure on agents to finish calls as fast as they can so they can focus on building rapport with the customers instead. It’s a win-win situation.

Provide supervisors and managers some training

Your agents are not the only ones who need training; your supervisors and managers should be trained as well. In fact, a lot of agent attrition can be attributed to mismanagement.

Provide your supervisors and managers with skills on how to identify the level of help needed by their agents, how to provide constructive feedback, and proper coaching skills that can elevate not only the agent’s skills but confidence as well.

Competent managers and supervisors will reduce frustration from your workforce and should inevitably reduce resignations.

Set clear career paths

Nobody wants to be an agent forever. In any company, employees want to be assured that if they work the right way, there will be professional growth. So start early during the onboarding process to show agents the different career paths they can pursue if they do well as a contact center agent. This will serve as a motivation to work hard and something they can look forward to in the future.

Recognize achievements and milestones

Recognition goes a long way in making a person feel that they are appreciated, more so in a contact center where agents have a tendency to feel like they are nothing but a number.

Make it a point to recognize achievements and marks of excellence through awards and incentives. Celebrate agents’ professional milestones as well, including long-term employee tenure. After all, staying in the same contact center for a few years should be an achievement in itself.

Get employees’ feedback

Get direct feedback from your agents about their wants and needs. Open communication lines to your employees and ask them for their suggestions on how to improve working conditions, business processes or anything related to their employment with the company.

Better yet, conduct anonymous agent surveys regularly to let them know that you welcome their opinions and that it would not, in any way, be detrimental to their jobs.

However, no amount of feedback is useful if you do not act on it. Determine the recommendations that you think are worthwhile and implement them. Be sure to let agents know that the changes came from their suggestions to show that you are listening to their input.

Learn from every employee exit

There’s not much you can do when an agent decides to leave. That does not mean, however, that you cannot learn from it. Formalize your exit interview and ask the departing employee what the company could have done better to retain them.

Make sure that there are no ill feelings because of the separation. There may come a time when they want to come back, or at the very least, refer someone else to the company. You do not want to be burning bridges.

These are just some of the ways you can lower agent attrition. The bottom line is you have to find ways to keep them engaged, motivated and satisfied with their stay with the company. Working in a contact center can be difficult, but good management can ease that burden.

Mark_Dacanay

Mark Dacanay is a Digital Marketing Professional who has been working with RingCentral for more than 5 years. He is obsessed with anything about the cloud—the technology, not the fluffy stuff in the sky.
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