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Customer Service Insights

Seven Ways to Retain Top Performing Agents

4 Min Read
Sara   |   January 21, 2020

The Australian Contact Centre Benchmark Report states that the average Full-Time customer service agent attrition rate in 2018 is at 19%. The impact of increasing attrition rates are affecting businesses more than ever, so it is important to ensure your team members feel valued, engaged and challenged. Here are a few actionable ways to help retain your team members and build a winning Employee Experience. 

Upskill and promote 

Your employees are your best asset and oftentimes, the leaders of tomorrow are hiding within the front lines of your organisation. The entry-level and front line Contact Centre employees are often younger and unaware of opportunities within the broader organisation, or even what it takes to drive their own personal development. If skilled employees aren’t feeling challenged enough, or if they’re not aware of internal career development - they will start to look for growth opportunities elsewhere. 

Great managers will clearly communicate the prospects for this kind of talent in monthly catch ups or 1-1s, encouraging them to upskill and pursue speciality areas of interest. At the very least, the opportunities for career growth should be laid out so that junior staff members have somewhere to aim for.  

Engage 

Contact centre roles can be repetitive in nature, but disengaged employees have a direct impact on the experience of the wider team, negatively affecting the company culture. One way to increase engagement in Contact Centres can be to rotate them regularly so that there is greater diversity in their roles. This will present further learning opportunities too that will help them upskill for a double win. 

Compensate 

There are studies that say that compensation and benefits are either one of the most important, or the least important thing that talent cares about today. In a study we ran amongst our own talent pool for example, “Promotions and Pay increases” was ranked the 3rd most important thing for staff under the age of 36 to feel engaged at work (behind only “Variation in my team/work” and “A pleasant work environment”) For those over 36 however, it was ranked last. 

Despite the conflicting evidence, it is important to note that the companies at the top of the “World’s Best Companies to Work For” lists are explicit about the fact they pay their employees well, in addition to all of the fun perks that get the press headlines going like Kombucha on tap and Mindfulness rooms. It’s not difficult to see that it would be hard for employees to feel they are valued if they don’t believe they are being paid what they are worth. 

meditation

Incentivise

Following on from this, successful Customer Service leaders know the value of hard incentives. This can take the form of team awards - held either monthly or yearly, which will give everyone the chance to shine and boost team morale. It is important these are not always sales-focused too. 

Perhaps achievable KPI’s can be set within teams to give individuals something to work towards. These don’t have to be monetary - it could be extra time off, or vouchers for dinners, movies or massages. 

Top performers could be better retained with shares in the company profits, or by being involved in projects or staff selection decisions. Not only will this help them to feel valued, it will also empower them to flex their strategic skills, and enable them to contribute more directly to the overall company success. 

Get to Know Them

Surprise surprise - the more time you spend with someone, the more you are saying they are valued enough to warrant your time. Taking time to talk to your agents about things outside of work will help them feel more valued, and will help you understand more about what drives them. You may find some of them have hidden talents that you can utilise within the business and help boost their profile and contribute to the company culture too!

Eg: One of your A grade employees may have an interest in photography. You could encourage them to pursue their passion by getting them to take photos of internal staff members or appoint them the unofficial photographer for the company social media channels.  

Say thanks!

Recognising employees for the work they do should be common practise and there are many ways this can be done. Unfortunately, we have spent so much time trying to build this out into a process or formula that it has become abstract and not even human in some cases. 

The difference here is that just because your company has a program to recognise staff, it doesn’t mean that they are actually feeling recognised. This doesn’t have to mean that all rewards and recognition programs are bad and should be scrapped - but perhaps Customer Service managers should think more about the people themselves, and less about the process to use. This can be as simple as a handwritten note. A box of someone's favourite chocolate. Shouting them out in front of peers and other leaders. Often, gestures like this speak far louder than bonuses or fancy points systems.

 

As all hiring managers know, hiring experienced Call Centre agents is time-consuming and costly for any business. Finding ways to ensure top talent is retained is essential, not only to boost bottom line, but to improve Employee Experience, Culture and Employer Branding too. Start implementing these six tips today and the benefits will be obvious across the entire business, not just the Customer Experience department. For the 7th tip - reach out to us below and we'll explain why affectively tapping into contingent talent pools will help to retain your top performing core staff. 

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