Working as a call center agent is no walk in the park. It can be taxing, fielding call after call from frustrated clients who too often blame agents for issues over which they have no control.
Call centers have notoriously high turnover rates, with the global annual average being between 30 and 40 percent. One of call center managers’ primary responsibilities is working to ensure their call center bucks this trend and holds on to key staff members long-term.
In this article we’ll lay out 11 strategies for reducing agent attrition at your call center.
#1 Optimise your recruiting and hiring process
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: your call center is only as good as the people who staff it. Finding a team of agents with the skills necessary to run an efficient call center operation starts with recruitment and hiring.
The best way to recruit top talent is to cast a wide net. Be sure to advertise your open position across an array of different hiring platforms. Call center agents have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively over the phone, so place special emphasis on your candidates performance during interviews.
Come up with interview questions that will gauge your candidates’ ability to think on their feet during client calls. These questions could be scenario based, asking interviewees to detail their response to hypotheticals involving frustrated customers.
You could also consider using role playing as a tool to evaluate candidate competency in interviews. Role playing is a great way to throw candidates into the fire, so to speak, and is a very efficient way to identify a person’s sales skills.
Finally, come up with a set of criteria on which to judge your applicants before conducting any interviews. Developing these sorts of evaluation rubrics will ensure objectivity in your judgement, and will no doubt lead to the hiring of the most qualified candidates for your call center.
#2 Communicate your vision
Regardless of their station, people at your company deserve to know the overarching vision guiding the organization into the future. Direct communication of vision is especially important to call center agents, whose jobs can often feel both mundane and detached from their company’s most important work.
It’s a good idea to plan quarterly or bi-annual meetings between company leaders and call center agents. Leaders can use this time to thank call center agents for their hard work, and to explain how their work fits into the company’s growth strategy and, ultimately, its success.
#3 Improve training programs
Investing in employee training programs is a great way to signal to your call center agents that you’re invested in their success. Agents who believe that their company values them enough to organize detailed training programs are more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Of course, training programs also have the inherent benefit of improving the performance of your agents. They really are a win-win!
#4 Create a pleasant workplace
We spend at least half of our waking hours at work, so it stands to reason that employers should do all they can to make work a pleasant place to be, right? We certainly think so.
There are a multitude of ways you can create a nice workplace for your employees. For one, you could provide common workplace amenities like a coffee machine. It may seem simple but people appreciate it nonetheless. You could also invest in the ambiance of your workplace, either by yourself or with the help of an interior designer.
For remote teams — of which there are many nowadays — you could consider organizing twice monthly casual get-to-know-you chats between randomly-paired employees. These sorts of meetings, wherein people can talk about something other than work, do much to build camaraderie among team members, which in turn lowers employee attrition rates. They also help to foster a culture of open communication at your company, which in turn creates a supportive environment where all employees feel welcome regardless of their background.
#5 Establish clear communication channels
Raising questions or concerns with superiors is stressful enough as it is, your agents shouldn’t have to deal with the added difficulty of navigating a maze of bureaucratic backchannels. Opening and maintaining clear communication channels between entry-level employees and their superiors is crucial to the operation of a successful call center.
One way to do this is through internal discussion channels wherein employees can raise any questions or concerns they may have. These could be as simple as a dedicated Slack channel or an Officevibe poll — the point is to have your employees be able to share their thoughts about your company and its management without fear of ridicule or retribution.
If employees understand how and to whom they should raise any concerns they may have, they’ll be more likely to stick with your company and work out their problems with you rather than simply quitting and finding a new opportunity elsewhere.
#6 Provide development programs
Development programs go a step beyond training programs in that they help your employees grow to reach their full potential over time. However much you invest in development programs, you’ll get it back tenfold in the form of a satisfied and motivated workforce that’s eager to grow alongside your company.
Employees who feel as though your company is helping them to learn and develop in their profession are more likely to stay on your team long-term.
#7 Motivate and encourage your agents
Like any job, call center agent work has its highs and lows. For managers, this means you need to always be in your agents’ corner, providing the motivation and encouragement needed to overcome on-the-job obstacles.
It could be that one of your agents is burned out after a series of difficult and frustrating calls with customers. Consider giving an agent like that 5-10 minutes off the clock and talk to them about what they could try and do differently in the future to avoid the kinds of negative interactions they’d been experiencing. It will help you get to know your agents better, and it will help them work through obstacles as they arise, instead of having them build up overtime and get so serious that they might consider leaving your company.
Managers should also make an effort to recognize individual excellence in their employees. It’s as easy as sending a quick private message to one of your reportees celebrating a job well done and it can make a big difference in worker morale. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to go that extra mile for your company.
#8 Offer opportunities for promotion
People want to feel as though there is opportunity for growth at their place of work, and call center agents are no exception. Call center managers should make potential promotion chains clear to their employees, and also make sure everyone knows when an opportunity to be promoted arises.
When call center agents feel like they’re stuck in a rut, they often think about leaving their company and finding work elsewhere. It’s managers’ responsibility to make sure things never get to that point, and one of the best ways to do it is to offer ample opportunities for growth — including promotions — as frequently as possible.
#9 Offer benefits
This one is pretty straightforward: everybody loves benefits.
Benefits at your call center could take many forms. You could offer paid time off, dental insurance, even a membership at a local gym — there are no real boundaries so feel free to get creative!
If you manage to find a really popular program that your employees love, they’ll no doubt want to stick with your company so they can continue to enjoy your great benefits.
#10 Provide great software
Before your team can reach their full potential, you need to equip them with the right tools. Time spent on busywork is almost always time wasted, and there are a litany of software tools on the market today that can practically eliminate busywork through the automation of mundane tasks.
For call centers, there’s no better software on the market today than CloudTalk.
CloudTalk improves every facet of a call center agent’s job. It makes inbound and outbound calls easier, it significantly decreases tedious busywork between calls and it makes agents’ time at the office more enjoyable overall.
CloudTalk also offers an unparalleled suite of over 50 features, including 3-way calling, a call flow designer and a power dialer. CloudTalk also has easy-to-implement integrations with all of the leading CRM systems, making set-up a breeze.
If you really want to convince your agents to stick around, setting them up with CloudTalk is a virtual must.
#11 Improve work conditions
We recommend taking a two-pronged approach to improving your working conditions.
For one, you should invest in your physical office space, so it’s comfortable for your agents. This could be as simple as buying some plants, or as complex as hiring an interior designer — or anything in between. As long as you end up with a space people like to spend time in, you’ve done your job.
The other, and perhaps more important, aspect of improving working conditions is policy based. You’ll want to make sure that you have worker-friendly policies in place at your call center, policies that successfully balance your employees’ well-being and your bottom line. For instance, when making your agents shift schedules you could budget a certain amount of break time for everyone as a means of avoiding burnout. Remember: a happy call center agent is a productive call center agent, so you can’t afford to neglect your employees’ well-being.
The bottom line
A great many things go into building a call center that agents will want to work in long-term. You really have to take a holistic approach here, otherwise you’ll fall victim to the industry’s notoriously high rates of attrition.
It’s a long journey, but one that starts with a very simple first step: invest in top-quality call center software like CloudTalk. That one decision is guaranteed to save you a lot of time, money and heartache down the road. Get started today with a 14-day free trial, no credit card required.