Employee turnover is expensive. Not only does it cost a lot of money to recruit and train new employees, but you also have to factor in the lost revenue from being short-staffed and having less experience across the board. And when it comes to retention, there are few industries where this is more important than it is with contact centers, where employee attrition rates can reach as high as 25%-40%.
But here’s the good news. Retaining quality contact center agents is possible and it doesn’t always amount to paying agents more money (more on that below).
In this article, we discuss three real ways to improve contact center agent retention — that actually work.
1. Yes, Pay Matters
We would be remiss if we didn’t address the elephant in the room. Yes, employee pay is an important factor in attracting and retaining top talent in contact centers. According to a recent data study from the Balto Conversation Excellence Lab (CEL), the majority of employees ranked pay as the primary motivator for staying at their current job.
If paying agents more is in the cards (and the current compensation is not on par with the industry), it might be a strategy worth assessing. But if agent pay is already competitive or the ability to increase wages is not in the budget, keep reading as there are other ways to gain and retain top talent.
2. It Starts From Day One
The problem that a lot of contact centers face is that they wait to address retention until the agent has expressed they are unhappy or looking for jobs elsewhere. In reality, though, agent retention starts from day one in two ways.
Hiring the Right People
Ensure you’re hiring the right people for the job. A bad hire is going to be impossible to retain no matter what strategies you put in place. Doing things like properly defining the role, clearly explaining expectations to candidates, quickly identifying misalignments in culture, goals, or work ethic, and not rushing the hiring process can go a long way.
First impressions also go a long way, and it’s not just about your impression of your candidates. It’s also how your company presents itself to prospects. Organization in the hiring process and speaking to programs that give agents a voice, if any, help them feel comfortable and valued.
Onboard the Right Way
People want to succeed at their jobs. Regardless of whether or not there is an added performance incentive, agents want to perform well and feel like they’re making a difference. What this means is that the onboarding process needs to be well defined and executed perfectly to welcome agents into the company the right way. This includes things like:
- Clearly defining expectations
- Detailing opportunities for growth and advancement
- Fostering the relationship-building process
The first few weeks of any new job are challenging, and can be make or break for new hires. Not everyone can get up to speed as quickly, so it’s important to give them adequate time to become indoctrinated in new systems, products, and the company as a whole.
3. Leverage Resources to Support Your Agents
Setting agents up for success shouldn’t just happen during the onboarding process. It should be an ongoing process, so that the agent can continue to grow, thrive, and feel that support. Thankfully, there are resources out there that can assist in this process.
Technology for Conversation Improvement
One such resource is Balto’s Real-Time Coaching software. Our artificial intelligence (AI) platform listens to 100% of calls and automatically alerts managers of coaching and success opportunities in real-time. Managers can program in specific triggers consisting of keywords, phrases, or soft skills from a fully customizable catalog. When a trigger is set off, the manager can begin providing real-time coaching in-person or remotely through the dashboard.
Agents no longer have to wait weeks or months for feedback or support. Fully personalized coaching and support happen in real-time, which means happier and more successful agents who want to stick around. Sean Wheaton, Contact Center Supervisor at UGA Finance, used Balto to improve the coaching dialogue, saying, “Balto eliminated the negative association that coaching had with our agents. Now they come into coaching sessions and they have a list of things they want to have a conversation about for improvement versus ‘What did I do wrong now?’”
Empowering agents with resources to improve the coaching dialogue makes them feel both invested in the process and the company.
Help Agents Be Heard
Another tactic is establishing your own in-house resources for agent grievances. An employee resource group or impartial representative from HR can help give a voice to agents or serve as an outlet for frustration. Sometimes all it takes is being heard, and having “vent-sessions,” in a controlled environment, can do wonders for morale.
Agent retention, if not handled properly, can cost a lot of money. And building a successful company culture isn’t just about monetary compensation. Think about these tips as you bring on new agents and keep your eye out for unconventional ways to keep your current agents satisfied. If you’re interested in seeing how Balto can help your contact center better acquire and retain top talent, reach out to schedule a quick demo.