2023 has been a year of operational efficiency. Spurred on by the lasting repercussions of the pandemic, economic uncertainty and seismic shifts in corporate workplace culture, doing more with less has become the way to do business. This approach is inherent in some industries: with variable call volumes, endless technology developments, and historically high agent attrition, the contact center industry is used to existing in a state of constant flux. Aiming to do more with less is a contact center’s MO - but it’s time to take a closer look at the ramifications. Is your brand willing to risk customer relationships when resources are stretched thin? Does it have to?
It might be time for a change of perspective, especially if your contact center’s success rate seems to be slipping out the door, along with your workforce. If you are experiencing significant agent turnover, we invite you to read on as we examine the effects that a skilled and stable workforce can have on customer relationships, and how a better workplace culture can improve both customer experience and the revenue it drives. Let’s dive in.
“Chasing near-term revenue and profits has taken priority over, well—everything. Creating and sustaining customer relationships—at one time the pre-eminent mission of any self-respecting brand—has fallen so far down the priority list that it might as well be written in mice type. As a result, the emotional connection with the customer has worn thin and the quality of the customer’s experience has suffered. The implications are clear: losing sight of the customer as the brand’s top priority may well endanger its long-term success.”
- Jason Ten-Pow, CEO, bespokeCX
Your brand’s greatest asset for long-term growth is its relationship with its customers. Enduring loyalty comes from customers who trust that your brand is going to treat them the way they want to be treated, at every step of the customer journey. Having a team in place that not only understands this but focuses on optimizing the processes that strengthen this bond is a surefire way to move your brand ahead of the pack. Even beyond your brand’s most ambitious marketing strategies, a stable and skilled contact center has the power to effect deeper relationships with customers on a more personal level.
So what does this have to do with agent retention? The usual discussion highlights the financial impact of agent attrition – the cost and impact of interviewing, hiring, onboarding and training a new agent is a significant investment, with no guarantee that the agent will stay beyond the 14.3-month average for a contact center role. Instead, we wanted to look at what prioritizing agent retention can do for your call center – from day-to-day operations to annual revenue.
Experienced contact center agents are the on-the-ground aces of building customer loyalty. These seasoned superstars can easily alchemize a customer’s anger into rapport, making them more likely to resolve the customer’s issues quickly, while making your brand look like the hero. Their accumulated experience and skillset serve to help train and support newer agents through the growing pains of getting started in their roles, and their ability to give accurate product and service info, seemingly off the top of their heads, creates a more consistent brand experience for customers. Confident agents build customer trust; customers who know that interactions with your brand are positive and efficient are far more likely to continue their patronage…and tell others about their great experience!
Experienced agents are beyond valuable, so it’s important that their workplace culture is set up to help them thrive. This is where an audit of your brand’s KPIs comes in – if your brand isn’t making your contact center’s operations and culture a priority, you’re bound to eventually lose your best players, and revenue too. Here are some tips to help rethink the agent environment, so that your best and brightest continue to shine for your brand and your customers.
• Strategize for career progression, starting at the hiring stage. Agents need to know (and experience) that there is room to grow in their careers with your brand, and that there are interesting opportunities available. When management enables full and ongoing transparency of how the contact center’s goals fit into the business goals short-term and long-term, agents can get a sense of their individual and team progress towards them.
• Prioritize ongoing training. Learning on the job helps agents feel more engaged and motivated to contribute, and gives them a chance to build their skill set and experience beyond their everyday roles. Training also helps agents uncover and develop hidden strengths that might have otherwise gone unnoticed by management and allows managers and supervisors to determine if they have the right people in the right positions – key to both productivity and workplace morale.
• Enable more fluid feedback and agent autonomy. Ensuring a fluid feedback process from management and agents, and vice versa can improve communication and workflow, which in turn can lead to greater confidence and autonomy. Agents get clearer insights about their performance and growth when they are able to review and request help or feedback from management on previous interactions, helping them feel more prepared and more in control. Ensuring an open feedback and communication process also helps when allowing agents greater flexibility and control in arranging their scheduling and/or specific work needs.
• Audit current processes and invest in better workflow technology. Hand in hand with ensuring open feedback and communication is doing a thorough audit of your contact center’s platforms – based on input from your agents! When your team has to deal with too many apps and sources of data that don’t seamlessly connect with one another, the lines of communication bottleneck and frustration ensue, likely affecting your customer experience. Smart processes for your contact center also help clarify role expectations and agent accountability, giving a clearer picture of operational progress.
• Recognize and reward. Our final tip is probably the most important. Recognition and rewards improve team morale, having an immediate and lasting effect on the overall culture and individual motivation. Agents who feel that their needs are recognized and addressed, and who are frequently rewarded for their skills and service are more apt to reward your contact center with their ongoing expertise and make customers feel like they are priority number one.
As we said, it’s time to reassess your contact center’s most important KPI – the strength of your customer relationships. Experienced agents are the key to effective and personal customer connections, and they deserve to be supported and recognized for the challenging and valuable work that they do in building unbreakable customer relationships. If satisfied customers are the center of your brand’s universe, your superstar seasoned agents are mission control!
bespokeCX gives contact center teams the framework, tools and perspective to deliver better customer experience while supporting stronger workplace culture. By maximizing operational alignment and performance, bespokeCX can help your contact center reduce agent attrition and improve consistency of performance by delivering the kind of customer experience that deepens relationships. Visit www.bespokecx.com to learn more.