Agent Retention Strategies: Beyond the Basics agent retention

Agent Retention Strategies: Beyond the Basics

Contact centers are the cornerstone of your company’s customer service experience. Yet, help desk, support staff, and contact center agent retention remains a serious and unresolved challenge for many organizations. 

According to Gartner, high levels of disengagement lead to increased costs, as well as poor employee and customer outcomes. The research finds that disengaged representatives are 84% more likely to be thinking of quitting or actively looking for a new job. Furthermore, a Deloitte Digital survey reported that 63% of contact center leaders are facing staffing shortages and must become more creative and proactive in the process of finding, hiring, and, most importantly, retaining agents. 

With more than half of contact centers struggling with the ramifications of high agent turnover rates, customer service levels are suffering at a time when consumers are demanding more support than ever before. To improve the agent experience, contact center leaders must find effective ways to boost engagement, morale, and satisfaction. Keeping a workforce happy requires managers to develop employee retention strategies that go beyond the basics. 

Why Invest in Agent Retention?

To gain a sense of just how important agent retention is, contact center management needs to understand the impact of a high churn rate. 

It is no secret that contact center employee burnout and stress run high in environments that are inflexible and offer limited or no opportunity for career advancement. Add to this, a competitive job market, and businesses have a real agent retention problem on their hands. 

The fallout from rising agent attrition rates is not only a sacrifice of customer service levels. Agent churn impacts the bottom line. Losing and replacing experienced agents means high costs that come from the need to constantly recruit, onboard, and train new agents. 

Planning for success requires developing a contact center that is set up to help the business succeed immediately and down the road. Armed with the fact that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a good customer experience, managers can see the value in investing in agent success and increasing retention rates. 

Agent Retention Strategies: Beyond the Basics agent retention

5 Strategies for Keeping Agents Happy and Engaged

Maintaining a consistent and high-performing agent workforce is no easy task. Managers must not only implement best practices but go even further to create an environment where the entire team feels valued, recognized, challenged, involved, and motivated. Five key strategies can set the course for a steady and stable team.

1. Strengthen your Contact Center Management Team

You’ve heard the saying, it starts at the top. Contact center leadership needs to demonstrate its ongoing dedication to creating a team of valued agents. Businesses must hire managers who have key leadership qualities and understand the tremendous value in developing staff that brings lasting results. Managers that go beyond the traditional oversight of scheduling and budget, will be rewarded with reliable agents that deliver stronger performance and results for the business. Start with conducting regular check-ins and build from there. 

2. Increase Agent Engagement

Find new ways to increase engagement among your contact center employees. Managers who create an environment where employees are fully involved and committed to meeting stated goals, will improve their overall agent retention rate. Communication is one of the keys to engagement, so setting clear expectations and feedback will go a long way. Making sure that goals and metrics are visible and accessible are key to agent buy-in. Also, fostering some creative friendly competition can capture employees’ interest and result in higher agent performance. Finally, consider including recognition programs and awards that are unique to your organization and team to motivate agents.

3. Be Flexible and Supportive

Today’s modern work styles combined with increasing pressure to deliver service excellence, has made flexibility a must for improving contact center results for the long term. Workplace flexibility is a significant factor in creating employee well-being because it enables individuals to achieve a healthy work-life balance. For example, providing support for a hybrid or remote workforce, or making accommodations for flexible hours can yield higher motivation and morale. These forms of positive employee experiences make it much easier to retain and develop contact center staff while reducing the need for spending additional time, budget, and resources on continuous recruitment, onboarding, and training. 

4. Focus on Developing Agent Roles

Ongoing coaching and continuous learning help agents to feel informed, empowered, and motivated to produce high-quality results. Going beyond routine reviews and feedback to create a tailored training process and growth opportunities, helps contact center leaders to motivate staff and develop the best talent for the long term. 

5. Invest in the Right Technology

Contact center technology has evolved and advanced so that managers can empower agents to handle their own scheduling and more. This autonomy is critical in creating stronger engagement. It also frees up contact center managers to focus on other priorities. At work, agents using software that provides access to content that supports customer conversations can ultimately perform higher-value tasks that increase employee engagement and customer experience. Organizations should consider cloud-based contact center solutions that leverage AI to help drive more efficient processes for agents, which ultimately leads to greater job satisfaction. 

The Benefits of an Engaged Workforce

By creating strategies and establishing the key practices designed to retain successful agents, organizations strengthen engagement and can tap into the full power of their contact center. The significant business benefits that result from increasing engagement make a clear case that enacting employee retention strategies is the right thing to do for your company, employees, and customers. In addition to lower employee churn, several critical advantages are achieved. 

Improved Agent Morale

Many factors contribute to a strong morale. Agents who feel valued and respected are more likely to be motivated and happy with their jobs. Employee satisfaction creates the foundation for a positive and productive company culture that delivers top results. Additionally, contact center agents with higher morale tend to stay with a company longer and gain a history with the business that allows them to better represent the company brand and deliver higher client satisfaction. At the same time, the greater knowledge base and deeper experience drive efficiency that saves the business time and budget. 

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Gartner’s research found that disengagement leads to poor customer outcomes. Specifically, it showed that disengaged representatives are much more likely to provide a poor customer sentiment and service experience, negatively impacting loyalty. By contrast, empowered and engaged agents directly translate to better connections with customers and a stronger CX culture. By maintaining and developing existing contact center staff, management can trust its more experienced team to solve complex customer problems earlier in the service and support process. Agent satisfaction is typically highest among representatives who have the experience, skill, and confidence to make a difference and contribute to customer loyalty.

Reduced Costs

An engaged workforce is a cost efficient workforce. It’s a well-known fact that it is far less expensive to keep employees (and customers) than to bring on new ones. Ongoing and initial training costs plus the time required for recruiting, onboarding, and development quickly add up. A reliable and consistent team greatly minimizes the need for those expenses. 

A Better Bottom Line

Most customers today base decisions on brand experience. So, in addition to keeping operational costs down, it is important to consider that happy stable employees are proven to produce greater profits. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that strong CX is worth a 16% price premium on products and services. This statistic is even more compelling when you consider that the client touch that is generated through regular contact center communications presents clear sales opportunities. 

Bold Agent Retention Strategies Build Businesses 

As customer-centric companies are up to 60% more profitable than their competitors, it is understandable that agent retention is a top priority for businesses with contact centers. Not only is the cost of agent turnover significant, quality of service suffers among companies that are not fully committed to their customer service and support teams. The good news is that client representatives and contact center agents who are more engaged, supported, and appreciated are more likely to perform well and stay on board. By building proactive employee retention strategies, contact center supervisors can create a stronger company culture with happy and productive employees. A stable, reliable, and experienced workforce is the bedrock for success and becomes a profit driver for the business. 

Looking for more ways to boost agent productivity and keep employees engaged for lasting success? Check out this on-demand webinar on building the agent experience innovation center for more ideas on how to empower your team and achieve your goals. 

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