Techniques to Keep Your Agents Fresh and Focused
Posted by ICCS-BPO on Thursday 11th of January 2018
Guarded employee turnover needs no introduction. It’s one of the most crippling circumstances organizations of every shape, size, and offering face every single day. More alarmingly, the troublesome trait transpires. In recent years, concrete statistics continue to reinforce the reality that those bustling center scenes we collectively devote our efforts to have the highest turnover rate worldwide.
Don’t panic; there’s no need to nervously nibble on your fingernails. With well-documented case studies of one hundred percent center turnover rates weighing down the web, losing employees at any cog of the customer service cycle really is a costly yet somewhat avoidable reality.
Here at ICCS, we put two thumbs up to committed agent efforts that streamline every customer interaction. What’s more, we appreciate the daily dedication and cognitive load required by supervisors to ensure every single agent is fresh and focused on every single call, email, and direct message.
With that being said, are your efforts to boost and maintain frontline focus a relative reflection of the quality of service being delivered?
No answer is necessarily correct here. What’s important is that you apply daily the best practices.
At the next available opportunity, casually and openly discuss with your agents what they dislike most about center life and you’ll quickly observe a common trend. That trend being the detrimental domino effect unmotivated agents have on both customer retention and turnover rates.
Based on our own trusted takeaways of contact center life, we understand first-hand that the repetitive nature of frontline tasks heavily influences those troublesome turnover rates. Be it telephone support, email assistance, or social customer care, agents adhere daily to something of a strategic yet repetitive structure in order to deliver consistent, quality service to every customer.
In the defense of agents worldwide, we as humans innocently become disinterested as a result of performing repetitive tasks or relaying the same information over and over and over again. Add to the workload spiking call queues, persistent pressures for better CSATs, and disgruntled customer disputes. Mounting agent responsibilities aren’t quite as chilled as computer chair races on the call floor, huh?
Having spent countless hours reciting generic, linear processes and information to customers, we hold close the reality that contact centers differ enormously from more traditional, nine-to-five office environments. We’ve recently spent some time discussing some simple yet strategic techniques supervisors can apply immediately to boost and retain frontline agent focus.
There's no time like the present. Let’s take a look!
1. Hit home the importance of individual agent efforts.
Are your agents fully aware of their individual yet imperative contribution to the ultimate fate of the center?
Agents are the backbone of any contact center. Let’s be honest, would your center stay above water without their focus and willingness to assist your customers? In the absence of dedicated agent efforts, realistic targets are never reached, customers become increasingly dissatisfied and seek alternate providers, and centers effectively crumble.
Every center needs agents in order to stay on target and ahead of leading competitors. By actively telling agents how much their efforts are appreciated, they’ll naturally feel much more empowered to facilitate customers beyond their current technical and interpersonal ability.
2. Sermonize the good word of effective teamwork.
Does every agent in your center understand the crucial importance of collective team efforts?
We’re not in any way, shape, or form going against Tip 1. While individual agent traits and personalities inject a much required, humanized element to every interaction, it’s important to consider that agents work as part of a wider team every single day. Strong, like-minded teams support a more empowered means of working by removing avoidable constraints that may potentially hinder a particular agent’s abilities.
Without tight-knit teams of contented agents, the sincere efforts of those agents who embrace positive customer service are washed away by a sea of rising, negative customer perceptions. Optimize the experience your customers receive by encouraging trusted teamwork on the floor. We’re all responsible for your customer’s journey!
3. Prioritize and organize regular training opportunities.
Are you regularly organizing training opportunities to sharpen agents’ skills and knowledge?
Did you know? Empowerment is an immediately positive by-product of involvement. If agents are provided with continuously constructive training opportunities, they’ll appreciate your willingness to support both their personal and professional development. In appreciating your determination to keep their best interests at heart, agents will embrace compromise and give it their all on every interaction. Supervisors take note, the Learning and Development Team are your best friends!
Think about it for a second. How can agents (or anyone) improve if appropriate training means necessary are not provided? Can you realistically afford to wave goodbye to your top performing agents as a result of limited training and up-skill opportunities? Be it an hour-long classroom session on telephone etiquette, or a brief twenty-minute e-learning module on handling customer hostility, there’s no benefits of or excuses for completely disregarding training efforts.
4. Admire every single agent.
Do you physically communicate with every agent and tell them how much their efforts are appreciated?
As humans, it can seem extremely easy, should we let it happen, to let our skills slip right through our fingers when we feel unappreciated. Center life is no exception whatsoever. If agents feel unappreciated, they’ll continually deem their efforts as pointless as a back pocket on a t-shirt. Mentally place yourself in their shoes. How would you feel?
Agents will become rapidly resistant to the positive impact of their efforts if they’re rarely made to feel appreciated. While chocolate cakes and cookies are always well received on the floor, appreciating agents can be as simple as a passing comment on a faultless customer call they handled. Remember, your ability to recognize and appreciate agents has an immediately direct impact on their performance.
Your agents are your center’s backbone.
While center life can be as stressful as changing the wheels on a moving Mustang, frontline focus really can be boosted and retained with immediate effect. There’s no need to completely restructure your center or dive headfirst into cash allowances and budgets to eradicate employee turnover. While employee turnover will always be a reality in any profession, the reason for leaving stated on any exit interview form should never be, “No support provided. I’ve found a better opportunity”, or anything as equally negative.
If agents convince themselves, on the basis of their experiences, that they’ve been hired to pacify supporting financial bodies, their focus will frazzle and they’ll eyeball alternative employment opportunities.
So supervisors, waste no time. As contagious agent deflation flutters across the floor, associated, half-hearted service efforts have the standalone power to sink your center. As the electronic front of house for your brands, center, and organization on the whole, no other center team or development stream communicates with customers more than your frontline agents.
Here at ICCS, we’re forward-looking, sharp-witted professionals who can fully relate to and appreciate your experiences of contact center life. The tips provided aren’t the answer to all your customer retention headaches, but we know for certain they’ll help if applied efficiently.