8 Crucial Tips on How to Retain Employees in a Call Center
December 12th, 2018 Written by: Molly Masterson
Unemployment is at an all time low, making it one of the most difficult times in recent history to find quality talent. As the manager of a call center, this makes it all the more important that you hang onto the talented agents that you currently have. But, unfortunately, the average turnover rate at call centers is 30-45%, making it one of the highest turnover jobs in existence.
With a bad reputation for grueling hours, difficult customers, and constant phone calls, working in a call center isn’t for everyone, leading many employees to walk away from the role. However, there are retention strategies out there that can help you reduce agent turnover in your call center and encourage them to stick around.
What are those strategies? Below, we share eight ways to retain employees in a call center.
1. Start an Agent Reward or Recognition Program
Your call center agents put up with a lot. From being on the phone all day to handling difficult customers, your agents have a hard job—that much is certain. But are you doing enough to show your appreciation for their hard work? If not, your agents may start to look elsewhere.
If you have an agent or agents that are doing an incredible job, it’s important to reward and recognize their efforts. Show your top performers that their work is important by offering them additional PTO, gift cards, or hosting a lunch in their honor. Alternatively, consider giving out certificates of excellence to show your agents that you know they’re doing a great job.
2. Advocate for Your Agents
Agents have a lot to juggle while they’re on the phone. In fact, they frequently have to reference customer scripts, resources, and the company’s CRM or customer service software all while handling customer inquiries and complaints. That’s a lot to handle.
As a call center manager, your focus needs to be on making their workload easier to handle. To ease the stress your agents need to endure, work with your superiors and other decision makers to provide your agents with better technology. To give you an example, you might suggest virtual chat rooms to minimize the time your agents have to spend on the phone. In reducing the amount of difficult, time consuming tasks agents have to complete, you’re increasing their job satisfaction.
However, don’t just dive into a new technology investment without first consulting your call center agents. The last thing you want to do is suggest a technology investment that your agents won’t use. Instead, ask your call center agents what tools would help make their jobs easier or what would make them more effective at their job. Use their answers to find the solutions that will actually make a difference and excite your agents.
3. Ask Agents for Their Input
Your agents have the most frequent interaction with your customers, making them the some of the most important people at your company with vast customer insight. It would be silly not to tap into that knowledge for your business strategies. But more importantly, asking your agents for their input will make them feel more valuable to the company.
Make sure you loop agents into important campaigns and projects at your call center to make sure you’re addressing customer needs and using your agents as the cornerstone of your company. For example, in speaking with your call center agents, you’ll discover more customer likes, dislikes, and pain points that you can apply to your marketing campaigns or sales outreach.
4. Communicate Often and With Honesty
Looking back at your own career, did you ever have a supervisor or boss who had a tendency to loop you in at the last minute? We’ve all had bosses who aren’t the best communicators, which is frustrating as it makes employees feel unimportant or left out. No one wants to be the “last to know.” However, communicating openly and effectively with your employees will help put them at ease.
Your agents want transparency—it helps them feel secure and comfortable in their roles. If there is a new change coming to the organization, whether it’s a new process, structural change, or policy, stay ahead of it and keep your agents informed. Whenever you receive an update, apprise your agents of the situation to ensure that they feel stable and at ease.
5. Survey Your Agents Regularly
As a call center manager, it’s important to know what’s going well and what isn’t. And because your call center agents might not tell you their concerns to your face, it’s important to survey your employees.
Send out anonymous surveys to your agents to measure their happiness, identify pain points, and more. To give you an idea of what types of questions you should ask, you might write:
- On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you at work?
- Do you feel valued at work?
- What three words would you use to describe our call center culture?
This will surface several areas where you can make improvements and increase employee satisfaction. Before you send out your first survey, however, it’s important to set a regular cadence. This will allow you to implement changes and track your progress towards improving employee satisfaction between each survey, showing your call center agents that you care about improving their workplace environment.
6. Use Metrics That Are Agent- and Customer-Focused
Tracking the performance of your call center agents is an important process that reveals the proficiency of your team. But tracking metrics like calls made per day, tickets opened, tickets closed, and other quantitative metrics aren’t always the most important. In fact, putting more value in these metrics could encourage the wrong type of behavior (i.e. making a lot of calls versus making quality calls).
Instead of tracking quantitative metrics that emphasize the efficiency of your agents, focus instead on call quality or customer satisfaction. By focusing on more qualitative, customer-focused metrics you’ll encourage behavior that results in happier customers and call center agents. This also shows your agents that you put greater value on the content of their customer interactions, not so much the number of interactions they have.
7. Conduct Exit Interviews
Similar to surveys, exit interviews are another great place for data collection. This is your chance to discover why someone has left the company. And once you know what the problem is, you have the opportunity to fix it, reducing turnover for your remaining agents.
When someone leaves your call center, whether it’s a new opportunity, switching careers, or dissatisfaction, put some time on the calendar to meet with your departing agent and discuss the reasons behind their decision to leave. Ask questions like:
- How did our call center compare to others you’ve worked for?
- What attracted you to your new job offer?
- What did you like best about your job? What did you like the least?
This will result in open, honest feedback that you should then use to improve your call center.
8. Find a Good Match From the Start
As we stated earlier, some people just aren’t cut out for the call center life. When it comes to retaining your agents, you need to first make sure that the call center talent you hire is the right fit for the role, equipped with the right call center skills, experience, and personality. But that’s easier said than done.
If you want to find a good job fit from the start, a call center recruiting agency can make all the difference in the world. Using their already established pool of top-notch call center talent, a recruiting agency can quickly find call center agents that have the right attitude and qualifications. With quality agents in your call center, there will be less turnover from missed expectations, poor performance, or poor culture fits.
Happy Call Center Agents Stick Around
Call center managers have a tough tasks when it comes to employee retention considering the staggering turnover rate they need to battle. But by finding great agents to begin with, focusing on agent job satisfaction, introducing more efficient technology, and more, you’ll put your call center on the path to reducing employee exits.
Is turnover becoming too much to handle at your call center? We can help backfill those positions with quality talent that fits your company culture. Find out how by requesting talent with us.