So much of the emphasis in contact centers is on providing the support and service that produce high customer satisfaction. It’s important for the obvious reason: customers are the lifeblood of every business. That’s why so much of the measurement and training we do is aimed at providing the level of service that creates high CSAT and NPS scores.
However, we also need to focus on making sure our contact center agents are satisfied. If customers are the lifeblood of business, our agents are the veins — they carry our customers through their journey. And if agents aren’t happy in their roles, they’re likely not going to produce happy customers or secure sales.
As we continue our series of key performance indicators that high-performing contact centers measure, let’s talk about agent satisfaction scores, why they are important, and how we can improve them.
What Is an Agent Satisfaction Score and What Does It Measure?
An agent satisfaction score measures the percentage of agents that are satisfied or unsatisfied with their jobs. It’s typically measured with surveys.
High-performing contact centers pay close attention to the culture and the work environment. By gauging agent satisfaction, organizations can monitor how well they are doing at delivering on that culture. Companies can quantify how agents feel about their jobs and measure the impact of changes they make in the workplace.
Why Are Agent Satisfaction Scores Important to Contact Centers?
There are two critical reasons why agent satisfaction scores are important to contact centers. First, it correlates closely with customer satisfaction. Happy agents tend to be more productive, efficient, and take better care of customers. Secondly, a lack of satisfaction directly translates to poor performance, tardiness, sick days, and turnover.
Employee turnover is expensive. Attracting, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training are expensive. Not only do you have the hard costs, but you also have to factor in any lost revenue from being short-staffed and the impact of less inexperienced staff. In an industry where turnover rates can average 25% to 40%, anything you can do to reduce attrition and keep skilled team members on board is crucial.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure agents are happier and more engaged.
How Can Organizations Improve Agent Satisfaction Scores?
One of the first things organizations can do to improve agent satisfaction scores is by having a formal onboarding program that sets agents up for success. Not only does this encompass training, but it also means providing the tools and knowledge agents need to do their job.
1. Provide the Right Training and Tools
When people are confident in their ability to do the job, they’ll get more satisfaction out of the role. In 2021, a survey we did of more than 1,000 contact center agents analyzed what led to mistakes. Nearly a quarter of agents made mistakes because they forgot what they were supposed to say. Agents also cited being nervous, receiving a lack of training, or ineffective training as reasons.
Training is always a delicate balance because you want to provide in-depth instruction but you are also trying to keep ramp time to a minimum. Guided playbooks can help build confidence for agents because they don’t have to memorize scripts or try to retain vast amounts of information.
When agents struggle to remember, forget to do things, and feel the training has been inadequate, it’s no wonder they don’t have high levels of job satisfaction. Guided playbooks that anticipate queries and provide the information agents need at the right time resolve much of the frustration. This empowers agents. 98% of workers say they perform better when they know what to do. 96% of employees say they also tend to stay at jobs longer when they feel confident.
Call center work can be tedious at times. Gamification can make things a bit more fun. By providing prizes or rewards for meeting individual or group goals, you can improve agent satisfaction. Gamification can range from leaderboards and point contests for hitting benchmarks to progress bars that track performance. Simple challenges create recognition that keeps agents engaged.
We have confetti that explodes on the screen when agents complete their Smart Checklist items, not only celebrating their success but reinforcing positive behavior.
Research backs up the power of gamification. 95% of employees say they enjoy using gamified systems and nine in ten employers report productivity increases when gamification is deployed.
3. Provide Regular Coaching and Feedback
Ongoing dialogue can also help keep agents engaged. Rather than waiting for formal performance reviews or group training sessions, managers that address small issues as they occur generally have more success in making sure lessons stick.
Rather than spot-checking or listening to random calls, the right contact center software can listen and score every call so that managers know how agents are performing. Some systems allow you to program specific triggers so when the system hears keywords or phrases, it notifies managers who can provide real-time coaching to assist agents. This also allows supervisors to provide positive reinforcement on the spot when agents do things correctly.
Regular feedback is especially important for Millennials. A Harvard Business Review study shows that Millennials want feedback as much as 50% more and more frequently than Boomers. When you consider that nearly half of the Millennials surveyed said their managers failed to deliver on their expectations for feedback, this become one obvious place where contact centers can improve.
4. Include Agents in Discussions and Decisions
Contact center agents are on the front lines with customers. They will quickly gain an understanding of what’s working and where there are flaws in systems or knowledge gaps. Managers need to solicit regular feedback from team members to find out these problem areas so they can be addressed.
Not only will this help resolve problems, but it also provides agents with a stake in their success. When they feel managers truly listen to their concerns and take steps to remedy their problems, it also builds better trusting relationships. Consider including agents in the creation of training materials, playbooks, and knowledge bases.
Here’s how important this is. Balto’s Conversation Excellence Lab surveyed more than 560 agents recently. 64% of agents said they wanted change to their scripts. Agents that had little or no involvement in writing scripts were the most dissatisfied while agents that were happy with their scripts were more involved.
Pay particular attention to newer employees, who may see things with a fresh set of eyes and note places for improvement that everyone else no longer sees.
5. Consider Flexible Work Arrangements
In today’s difficult hiring environment, contact centers that want to keep their employees happy and engaged may need to consider greater flexibility than in the past. This might include customizing shifts, allowing remote work, or embracing a hybrid approach to in-office vs. at-home work.
While most contact center teams are now working fully in-person, our research shows that hybrid workers that spend at least some of the time in the office tend to score the highest on job satisfaction.
The Benefits of Improving Agent Satisfaction
When agents are satisfied in their work, they are more efficient, productive, and engaged. They also tend to stay longer at their jobs and produce more satisfied customers and conversions.
It may sound overly simplistic but it’s true. Happy agents create happy customers and better outcomes.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can streamline and upgrade your contact center to improve agent satisfaction, get in touch with our contact center experts for a demo today.