The secret to a positive workplace that encourages agent retention.
In an industry fraught with stress, burnout and turnover, can contact centers turn the tide to keep their agents satisfied, engaged and happy? With the variable nature of a contact center workday; juggling hectic workloads, the stress of customer challenges, and unpredictable call volumes, you’d be justified in thinking that training and retaining a stable team of satisfied agents is a tall order. But hear us out: it’s possible, and it’s all about priorities.
The secret to creating a positive work environment that encourages agent retention is to actually prioritize a positive work environment for agents!
In the wake of the transition to work-from-home models during the pandemic, and back to the in-office and hybrid working arrangements of today, contact centers have been weathering these external pressures on their customer service by focusing efforts on delivering quicker call resolution. This in turn amped up pressure on agents to manage heavier workloads and more complex queries, made more challenging due to ongoing logistical hurdles and higher-than-average employee turnover. As an essential force for fostering a brand’s relationships with its customers, agents need to feel invested and valued in their work in order to do it well and for the long term. Implementing shiny new AI-powered solutions to support the team’s workflow and communication, alongside customer-facing options that encourage self-service might help boost yesterday’s KPI. Still, today’s key priority is seeing a shift towards prioritizing human connection, and agents who don’t feel that same connection in their day-to-day work experience are far more likely to walk.
What does a work environment that prioritizes agents look like? Read on as we address four important factors that agents consider essential to a positive work environment: work/life balance, supportive leadership, career growth and opportunities, and recognition and reward, and how your contact center can implement changes in each to help your agents feel more supported, satisfied and stable in their roles.
Given what everyone experienced during the pandemic, a work-life balance that supports agents to look after their mental and physical health is no longer considered a nice to have, it’s a need to have. Prioritizing mental health initiatives in the workplace can help agents rise to the occasion when dealing with heavier workloads and challenging situations instead of being swamped by them, keeping your team feeling supported and your contact center operating smoothly. Ensuring in-office agents have a positive, safe and comfortable workplace, and that remote workers are supported with technology and timing that works for them shows your team that their wellbeing is important and valued. Like all employees, agents want a job that works with their life, so how your work environment supports them in achieving that will no doubt become an important factor in their decision to stay with your team long-term.
Like all employees, agents want to feel like respected and valued members of their team, and this feeling needs to be fostered from leadership down. Leadership needs to recognize the importance of work-life balance in creating satisfied agents, a strong, unified team, and subsequently better operational efficiency and customer service. One of the more direct ways that leadership can support their team is by taking part in training workshops, employee events and feedback sessions where they can interact with agents and learn more about their day-to-day workflow. Ensuring open communication between all tiers of employees and management helps agents feel that they can make their concerns, feedback and ideas heard, with minimal bureaucracy. When the entire team feels that leadership is on their side, the boost to morale and productivity is palpable and motivating!
Career growth opportunities
Ongoing training and coaching initiatives help agents to recognize that their unique skills are vitally important to the brand achieving its business goals, which in turn creates more opportunities for agents to pursue their career goals – it’s a win/win scenario, and it’s important that agents see it in action as early in their career as possible. Implementing skills assessments throughout the training process and demonstrating a clear and accessible pathway to career progression ensures that agents know how their opportunities for promotion can accelerate in tandem with the brand’s continued success. Prioritize training and development that incorporates agent feedback into building best practices; allowing agents to weigh in on the skills they want to hone for their career progression gives them a real and lasting sense of ownership, enthusiasm and commitment to their team and their brand.
Recognition and reward
Apart from adding fun to the workplace, recognition and rewards are important motivators; the earlier new agents are rewarded for their efforts, the sooner they can see how that effort and engagement are central to their role and to their team’s performance and achievement. Making recognition fun, and frequent, is key, and basing it on criteria focused on quality rather than just quantity or productivity can make it more personal and accessible for all agents, boosting overall morale. Remember: whether for the collective or the individual, rewards need to be relevant to their recipients. Initiatives like gamifying aspects of the daily workflow can add a bit of fun into the team’s day-to-day operations, and offering fun incentives like team lunches or events can improve camaraderie and connection, encouraging better communication that will serve the team and business in the long run. Individual rewards should offer a direct benefit to the agent and their life, be it through time off or vacation days, mental and/or physical health support, flexibility for family time, or gifts that enhance the quality of life.
Building a positive work environment should be a key focus of your brand’s strategy for creating consistent, high-level customer service, and focusing efforts on these four points is a great place to start. Prioritizing agent satisfaction and engagement builds a stable team invested in delivering a great customer experience, and their authentic and consistent enthusiasm carries through to consumers, enhancing their connection with your agents. Treating agents as superheroes, they have the capacity to build a brand’s stock in leaps and bounds, resulting in revenue that grows alongside reputation.
bespokeCX gives contact center teams the framework, tools and perspective to deliver consistent customer experience while building supportive workplace culture, lasting motivation and increased job satisfaction for agents. By maximizing operational alignment and engagement, bespokeCX helps your agents excel at providing confident, authentic customer service that can improve your brand’s reputation and revenue. Visit www.bespokecx.com to learn more.