In any industry with high rates of turnover, hanging on to high-performing agents with experience is challenging. Top performers often find new opportunities for a pay bump or simply a change of pace. But they are an invaluable resource that promote stellar customer experiences and ultimately have bottom-line impact. So keeping them is paramount.
It requires proactive management.
While our surveys continue to show that pay is the primary motivator for all agents, keeping your agents engaged also has a big impact — on attrition, productivity, and overall performance. In fact, according to McKinsey, engaged and satisfied agents are 8.5 times more likely to stay in their jobs and 3.3 times more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues. That’s meaningful. And with tightening budgets, it’s an additional area where you can likely make strides.
So what can you do about it? Let’s take a look at two reasons, other than money, your top agents might consider jumping ship and what you can do to keep them on board, engaged, motivated, and contributing exponentially to your organization’s success and their own.
1) Managers Often Focus on New Hires
Because of high attrition levels, customer support teams often focus most of their efforts on hiring, training, and ramping up new agents to get them on the phones quickly. Once they hit certain performance thresholds, attention is often turned to the next new groups or recruits, and experienced agents are often left to their own devices.
This can easily lead to more experienced agents becoming unengaged, taking shortcuts, or deviating from your playbook. While you want to give your tenured agents the trust and flexibility they deserve, they still make mistakes on calls or skip important steps. They too need the most up-to-date, relevant information to be successful and occasional reminders about the importance of following the playbook.
For managers, it’s easy to become complacent and simply accept the status quo — accepting high turnover as a necessary evil and sticking to a focus on new recruits. But tenured agents need resources and continued support as much as anyone else. They can be your greatest assets, and they can help you meet and exceed your goals if you continue to guide them.
2) Experienced Agents Want to Go Off-Script
Even when you’ve got your playbook dialed in, agents often want to go off-script and make changes. Nearly two-thirds of the agents we surveyed said they wanted script changes.
For tenured agents, it makes sense that they might want to change things up. They may have discovered other ways to resolve customer queries, they may be bored following the playbook, or they’ve “earned” the right to incorporate a little more of themselves into the call center script.
These tenured agents are the most likely to deviate from the way you want them to handle calls, which may not lead to optimal results. If you see performance drop with your longest-serving team members, check to see if they are following the path you’ve set out for handling calls.
At the same time, going “off script” isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re getting the results you want. However, there are two things you need to watch carefully:
- An agent may not be performing at optimal levels. Even if they get high marks, they may be missing opportunities. You should benchmark performance against other tenured agents that do stick to the playbook to see what works best.
- An agent may have discovered a better way to do things. If so, you want to capture their approach and test it. If it truly is a better approach, then you want to incorporate it into your playbook to improve everyone’s performance.
When you find agents are not following the course you’ve set, solicit feedback and make them part of creating or revising the playbook. This can help keep agents tuned in to your playbook and making sure they are hitting the right notes with your customers. Involving them also creates a higher level of engagement and satisfaction, two keys to agent retention.
When agents are involved in creating the playbook, they are among the group that is least likely to want script changes, which makes perfect sense. They’ve contributed to it, have vested interest in its success, and feel like they’re being heard.
How to Keep Agents Engaged
Leverage Agent-Sourced Content
It goes without saying that most contact center managers want agents to stick to the playbook. But sometimes this rigidity doesn’t leave room for improvement. When agents and managers find better ways to handle objections or try out new phrases that convert better, shouldn’t these wins be shared?
The key is creating a culture where agents have a voice and can provide playbook feedback. Gathering that feedback and operationalizing it can be as formal or informal as you like — from basic forms fills to regular group feedback/collaboration sessions with managers.
Either way, agent-sourced content empowers agents to achieve success by offering greater flexibility in the content they see. It allows them to really think about what they are saying and what’s working for them.
Balto helps create an agent-centered culture by allowing the top-performing agents you trust most to add their own checklist items, or agent-sourced content, directly within the app. It gives them flexibility in the playbook and the ability to test new checklist items. Then, those wins can be shared with the rest of the team with the press of a button. Agents become the catalyst for improving team performance. At the same time, managers can continuously iterate on their playbooks with little-to-no interaction — giving them valuable time back to their day.
Managers can source high-performing playbook content, lock dynamic prompts and checklists, and view agents’ variations for possible inclusion in the playbook to test with the team.
Make It Fun with Gamification
Another way to keep experienced team members engaged is to make calls fun. Gamification provides an opportunity to tap into the spirit of friendly competition, be it agent vs agent or agents vs themselves.
If you’ve ever played a video game or downloaded a coffee app with rewards, you’ve experienced gamification. Rooted in extensive behavioral science research, gamification leverages fundamental human needs and desires for fun, completeness, empowerment, social influence, accomplishment, ownership and more. Think badges or perks for meeting certain milestones or leaderboards for agents chasing a call goal.
Gamification also provides managers with an easy way to award and incentivize win marks to keep motivation high. When an agent meets certain gamified criteria, such as hitting so many call objections or not missing any compliance marks, it’s easy to track and reward the achievements.
Gamification tools can inject some competition and fun into the day-to-day activities of agents and let them show off a bit when they meet your goals for improvement. This is especially true for more experienced tenured agents, who can build a brag-worthy digital trophycase of call accomplishments.
Balto’s embraces gamification as a core way to improve agent engagement. Available for both individuals and teams, gamification is built within the app in the form of challenges, leaderboards, and badges to encourage focus and reinforce positive behaviors that meet company goals.
Monitor Compliance and Performance
It goes without saying how important compliance is on calls. Your experienced agents probably even have your compliance and regulatory statements memorized. But by running QA on only handful of calls, how can you be sure compliance marks are always met?
Ensure you have bulletproof compliance by keeping your experienced agents honest with real-time guidance. Smart checklists ensure that agents are reading any required statements and hitting compliance marks. And Real-Time QA automatically scores 100% of calls, so you can rest assured that you don’t have any blindspots.
Because Balto automatically scores every call and provides real-time scorecards, managers can continue to track performance for all agents, rewarding those that excel and finding coaching opportunities for others to keep them engaged, even with repetitive content.
The Tools You Need to Keep Agents at Peak Performance
Experienced agents know that marketing, process, and product changes happen constantly. Best practices surface over time and customer behavior evolves as well. What worked a year ago may no longer be the right approach.
Balto keeps everyone, including your experienced agents, at the top of their game by making sure they always have the most up-to-date information and easy access to the content they need to succeed. Real-time guidance keeps senior agents sharp and improves conversions. And built-in gamification and agent-sourced content help keep them engaged and satisfied in their roles — promoting a work environment they’ll want to tell their friends about.
Want to see how Balto can help your organization promote retention? Book a demo today.