Published: March 09, 2015 | Comments
It’s hard to find good contact center agents – and even harder to keep them.
The reason agents leave isn’t always about money. Many contact center agents feel unprepared to handle customer interactions, leading to poor performance and a lack of overall job satisfaction. Others want more diversity in their day-to-day activities and quickly burn out with the monotony of their daily routine.
Research shows that more than one in eight contact centers report attrition rates greater than 50% and the cost of replacing an agent can be more than 1.5 times their salary.
Chances are your agents have more than one reason for leaving, and getting to the root cause of why they leave is complex. The key to success is figuring out if agents are happy and engaged before your top performers walk out the door – and if your agents are unsatisfied, learning what you can do about it.
Top Four Reasons Agents Leave
Most contact center leaders wait until the exit interview to learn why agents are unhappy, but there are many warning signs of attrition. Here are some things to look for:
#1: Negative work environment/management style
When agents feel unrecognized for their performance, morale and motivation suffers. Agents who don’t feel that they have clearly defined goals, don’t know what is expected of them, and lack regular feedback about their performance are also more likely to leave. Do your managers and supervisors have the skills they need to engage and motivate agents? What about agents – is their work environment positive and encouraging? When you walk the floor, do you hear agents complaining?
#2: Lack of workload diversity
Many contact center agents today have a monotonous routine in a single channel of customer interaction. Sitting at a desk all day, making or answering calls, quickly causes agent burnout. Are your agents engaged in a variety of off-phone activities throughout the day or do they simply sit at the phone, answering calls?
#3: No time for training and coaching
Agents, just like all employees, want to feel supported by their employers. When agents don’t have the skills and tools they need to effectively handle customer inquiries, performance and morale suffer. But in the contact center, time is a valuable resource and training and coaching are often pushed to the backburner. Are you enabling your agents with the knowledge they need to be successful?
#4: Work-related stress
Contact center agents have a difficult job. Self-service channels have enabled customers to answer the easy questions themselves, so the inquiries that come to live agents have become more complex. And, if self-service has failed the customer, the agent may be on the receiving end of the customer’s frustrations. At the same time, customer expectations are higher than ever. Customers are more informed and expect agents to be multi-skilled and prepared to handle their inquiries in multiple channels.
Overcoming Barriers with Intraday Automation
Once you recognize the warning signs of attrition, you can take action and implement solutions to overcome the barriers to keeping your agents motivated and on board. But investing in agents’ success often faces its own operational challenges.
Supervisors and coaches often lack personal, one-on-one relationships with agents, and many agents work in silos, making it difficult to efficiently move them across channels. To further complicate matters, most contact centers are staffed for service levels – not for training and development – so time for developing agents is limited.
Adding headcount to make time for training and coaching isn’t an option for most companies, so contact centers are turning to technology innovations like intraday automation to create efficiency gains without compromising other areas of the business.
Supervisor Development – Often, the best agents are promoted to supervisors but there is no structured training program in place to teach them how to be effective. Intraday automation can deliver personally tailored training activities to supervisors in 15-30 minute segments during downtimes in call volume.
Agent Training – Agents generally want to deliver an outstanding customer experience, but the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the contact center makes it difficult to find time for them to get the training they need to be successful. With intraday automation, customized training is delivered to agents during natural idle times between interactions.
Onboarding and Coaching – Coaching isn’t all about product training – each agent has unique strengths and weaknesses that require an individualized development plan. With intraday automation, business rules can be established that automatically identify an agent’s strengths and weaknesses, align them with a specific training task, and alert coaches and agents when a pocket of time becomes available for coaching.
Workload Diversity – Intraday automation makes it easy to add variety to agents’ schedules while breaking down silos between channels. During natural downtimes between customer interactions, agents are provided with different types of off-phone work to help them become better at their jobs while at the same time adding diversity to the workday. Queues are automatically monitored and when volume drops, agents are redirected to complete other tasks or shifted to other channels to take advantage of multichannel opportunities.
Automatic Skill Updates – Sometimes weeks or even months go by before skills are updated and agents can start taking different call types or working in different channels. Intraday automation immediately updates skill associations so agents can begin taking on new challenges right away when they develop new skills or improve their performance.
Turning data into actions and making automatic, real-time adjustments to your frontline workforce through technology enables contact centers to find the time to overcome operational challenges and improve agent productivity and overall satisfaction.
The result of finding time to invest in agent success is greater agent productivity and a more consistent customer experience.
Making the commitment to invest in your agents not only makes them feel supported, it makes them better at their jobs and less likely to leave. The results are greater agent productivity and a more consistent customer experience.
And rather than your customers talking to green agents or those who are ready to walk out the door, you’ll give them an outstanding experience every time.