During your work as a call center leader, you must have learned that customer experience is everything, and negative customer experiences are inevitable in any business. However, there is always a way to bring them down to a minimum, and in some great cases to even eradicate them. The best way to do that is by thinking of a great call center retention program to keep your best agents happy within your company.
Before implementing any customer retention strategies, call center managers must first look to their employees. Taking a customer who calls in angry and leaving them satisfied after their call is essential, but it is important to know that happy employees make for happy customers.
Call center incentive is best boosted by understanding that agents who solve the most complicated problems need both support and preparation. They should be the center’s best agents with the best Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and best soft skills. Soft skills are the ability to show empathy, use their listening skills, and refer to the customer’s specific profile to understand what they desire and how to solve their issue precisely.
Sometimes, the customers only want an agent who truly listens to them and genuinely apologizes for the mistake. However, it is important to consider the toll that this takes on your call center employees. Making sure the customer is happy by the conversation’s end, even if a call goes long is something that is bound to tire your employees out eventually.
Recognizing your agents is the best call center incentive
If you are looking to build a great call center incentive program, remember that humans have an innate need to be appreciated and belong. There are quite a few ways to do this. First and foremost comes recognition. It can be done via a performance management program in the workplace and in turn, it can fulfill that need and keep employees around longer. It is often that companies with recognition programs have a lower voluntary turnover than companies that don’t. Recognition can be monetary, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be fiscal to be effective.
There are a few ways to incorporate recognition into your call center incentive program. For example, recognition can come in the form of giving an agent a shout-out on social media. Or it can be a close parking spot, a thank you note, or virtual coins for winning a challenge, and virtual badges for excelling at a task. There is another effective tactic for recognition within a call center which comes as having wallboards that display leaders of challenges, agent birthdays, and agent spotlights.
Your employees want to know that someone is invested in them and their experience within your company. A study has shown that those call center agents who stay with their employer for more than five years are those that have a mentor. Offering a mentor or coach is crucial to keeping your agents around. It doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task either, you can unify coaching capabilities via powerful performance management and quality management products.
Providing Effective Training for your Agents
Another thing to put in your call center incentive program is training. It is crucial to have your employees be ready for anything. It is normal then that high-quality training is essential. Effective training programs require more than thorough documentation as well. Agents usually say that hands-on training and shadowing are more effective than reviewing written materials.
Once you establish your in-depth training sessions for each of the tools your contact center uses, as well as best practices for navigating conversations through the use of employee engagement software, you can clearly establish company goals and expectations while providing your agents with the confidence to tackle any initiative. It is important to know that it takes a unique individual to be successful working in a call center environment.
The training has to start early on. This is even prior to their start date. It starts with recruitment and training. When you are looking for new employees, you have to consider the recruitment process. Do you think that your new reps will stay with your company for longer than a few months?
Once hired, provide your new employee’s information they can digest prior to their first day, and start to reward for that behavior. Are you setting them up for success with onboarding processes and training programs? Make sure to bring your new call center employees into your company culture quickly with daily one-on-ones with their managers.
You could also try setting up referral bonuses to employees who refer call center reps who stay for a certain amount of time. This is a part of your call center incentive program that will show your employees not only that you reward for helping to identify great new hires, but also for their desire to contribute to the overall success of the organization.
Ask Your Agents for Their Input
While building a great call center incentive program, you should know that your call center agents are the main focus. This is why you should ask and value their input.
Your agents have the most frequent interaction with your customers, which is making them some of the most important people at your company with vast customer insight. This is valuable insight that will help with the retention of both your employees and your customers. But more importantly, asking your agents for their input will make them feel more valuable to the company.
When setting up a new campaign, make sure you loop agents into these 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.
During this process, it’s important to know what’s going well and what isn’t. Your call center agents might not tell you their concerns to your face, but you can do this another way. For example, it is important to survey your employees.
There are a few ways to do it. How about starting with anonymous surveys to your agents to measure their happiness, identify pain points, and more. You might ask the following questions:
- 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 is likely to 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.
Similar to surveys, exit interviews are another great place for data collection. Your employees that leave your company must have feedback on why this has been done. 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, they are doing it for various reasons. These reasons might be a new opportunity, switching careers, or dissatisfaction. However, it is important too, in every case, leave sometimes 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.
The best way to increase your call center incentive is by demonstrating your appreciation for agents who are excelling. This is very likely to go a long way toward improving contact center retention. As in all other fields, employees who don’t feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to quit their job. And call center churn is becoming a problem in the past few years.
This is why this is one of the issues that managers and call center leadership should focus on. There are a few ways to do it: by using a combination of rewards, public recognition, one-on-one praise, and promotions. This will all help to create a supportive environment that helps agents feel appreciated and valued. A little competition between peers is also a great way to drive productivity, but it should never be the sole means of measuring agent performance and contributions.
Employees across the entire workforce crave opportunities to develop their skills and grow in their careers. Another great thing to focus on is your agent development. Lack of career development opportunities in some cases might be the number one reason why employees decide to quit their jobs. As a company leader, you must clearly present and offer opportunities for advancement in order to improve employee retention.
The possibilities to offer to your agents are virtually countless. You only have to stop and consider them. Caring about your call center employees and showing this case is something that will be noticeable once you invest your time in it. Your employees will be thankful for this and it will lead to better company culture, and in turn, less churn.