Contact centers are notorious for high staff turnover rates. With the daily challenges of outdated and disparate tech systems, constant pressure from above and poor internal policies, there’s not much being done to convince contact center agents to stay.
Following on from our recent article covering the most difficult things about working in a call center, we now explore the possible solutions for reducing this industry-wide staff attrition rate.
It comes down to retention and engagement. Finding the right people and keeping them. Research in North America has shown that the direct cost of replacing a contact center agent is more than $12,000. Add in the intangible loss of knowledge and expertise, and the decrease in speed of customer resolution, and you quickly realise how costly turnover can be.
So what can contact centers do to engage and retain their customer service agents? It’s all about the “Agent Experience”.
Here are three ways to get started on improving your contact center agent experience.
Provide your agents with the right tools
Starting at the most basic level, do your agents have a desk, chair, computer and reliable internet connection to perform their role? If this wasn’t addressed in 2020 when working from home became more prevalent, then you’re not off to a great start. Next, think about the software, applications, systems and processes that your agents operate with. It’s often the little things that cause the biggest frustrations and when these add up, staff morale worsens and employees become disengaged. How many applications must your agents open when they sit down to work each day? How do your agents communicate internally? How do your agents manage and track their tasks? How do your agents access shared documents and resources to better service your customers? And what CRM system is in place to make sure customer data isn’t siloed between different departments?
You want to make it as easy as possible for your agents to perform well. Investing in the right tools will improve your agent experience and ultimately protect your bottom line. Contact centers operating on disparate systems result in inefficient agents. By comparison, a single agent desktop with integrated CRM systems and automated workflows will result in increased agent productivity, less time spent training and onboarding and an overall improvement in staff morale.
Review internal KPIs
Behind the scenes, there’s often great disparity between the standard of customer service expected by contact center agents and internal KPIs placed upon them. For example, many contact centers emphasize the need to reduce Average Handle Time (AHT) but to meet this demand, agents may feel forced to compromise on the level of customer service they deliver.
Getting your KPIs right is not an easy task. KPIs must reflect brand values and they must promote the behavior you want from your employees. It’s a delicate balance between finding goals that enthuse agents to perform while also satisfying the needs from above. Providing the right tools to achieve this is also critical. For example, if First Contact Resolution (FCR) is a key benchmark for your business, then make sure your agents have real-time access to internal resources that will help them resolve the customer query as fast as possible. Knowledge-base integration will impact the overall agent experience by reducing the time they spend searching for answers and therefore improving Average Handle Time (AHT) and increasing the likelihood of FCR.
Offer career development opportunities
Finding great contact center agents isn’t easy. Keeping great agents is even harder. In many cases, contact center agents simply have no path for future growth and development. It’s no wonder it’s such a transient role.
To really enhance your agent experience, it’s your job to get involved and take an interest in each individual agent. Identify their skills, recognize their efforts and develop a plan for career progression. Perhaps they have the potential to develop into a supervisor or manager. Or perhaps their customer-centric skills could add value to different departments within the business. With a commitment to long term career development, you can improve employee engagement, increase agent performance and drive employee loyalty.
Contact centers are critical for any organization wishing to deliver a customer experience that encourages repeat business and boosts brand loyalty. But if your brand is truly serious about Customer Experience (CX), you must be serious about Employee Experience too (EX). Better yet, you must prioritize the ‘Agent Experience’. It’s intrinsically linked and it’s your pathway to improving staff attrition rates.
Give your contact center agents the tools they need to thrive with Local Measure Engage for Amazon Connect. Learn more here.