Working as a customer service representative in a call center environment is a tough job. Every time an agent accepts an incoming interaction, they never know what awaits them. Combine that high-stress with long hours, seasonal fluctuations, limited opportunities for advancement and being stuck at a desk (usually in a cubicle), it’s no surprise that the call center industry struggles with high employee turnover and job dissatisfaction. The average annual turnover rate for agents in U.S. contact centers is around 30-45%, which is more than double the average for all occupations in the U.S., according to DailyPay. Luckily, there are ways to turn that around.
Four Ways to Make Your Contact Center Culture Better
Being a call center agent is hard, so building an upbeat culture that is fun, rewarding, and promotes open communication is crucial. Give them the necessary tools to be effective, too. Instead of just getting agents to stick around, you might end up turning them into brand ambassadors over time. Not sure where to begin? Here are four ways to improve your contact center culture, which will lower employee turnover, increase job satisfaction, and boost the customer experience you deliver.
1. Foster a positive work environment.
A call center is a noisy place. Agents are busy chatting with customers, so they require privacy and a quiet place to do so. While you probably can’t give every agent a sound-proof personal office space (that would be amazing though), there are still many ways to create an inviting atmosphere away from the cubicles. Start by thinking about the common spaces. Maybe your break room could use a mini makeover. A few live plants, new seating, and a snack cart are a good start.
Don’t be afraid to liven up common spaces with area rugs and fun art. There are tons of affordable options out there. Encourage agents to decorate their designated workspaces in creative (nonpermanent) ways.
A welcoming open area will encourage socialization and shared meals during break times, which will go a long way to creating a sense of community among your people. You might even want to offer catered meals for special occasions or work anniversaries. Consider creating spots for managers to connect with their agents. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space either — a couple of armchairs in the corner of the room can easily do the trick.
Being mindful of the environment and designing an office space that is both fun and productive can be a huge culture boost. And people who feel more connected to their job, the culture, and their colleagues are less likely to be on the hunt for a new job elsewhere.
2. Leverage chatbots so agents can become subject matter experts.
We talk a lot about how humans and bots create a better customer experience because it’s true! Today’s bots are smart, and they provide instant solutions and answers to routine inquiries. Instead of making agents dig around every time a customer reaches out, a well-built bot can automatically pull complete customer information and history into the agent dashboard. Bots are not meant to replace humans, they are meant to empower them. Bots free up time by handling repetitive inquiries, so agents are able to focus on more complex customer problems. Your bots can even automatically route and transfer upset customers--detected through sentiment analysis--to a customer service agent who excels in de-escalation techniques.
When consumers need to speak with a customer service agent to resolve an issue, they expect the experience to feel human, and that’s why bots alone just won’t do. A bot is an amazing way to provide 24/7 customer service, but the human touch is important too. It’s time to let bots do the easy work and let agents go off script, providing genuine and memorable customer care, and have more time to focus on complex customer problems.
3. Praise and incentivize employees for a job well done.
Agents want to feel appreciated. Actually, agents need to feel appreciated, because they are often dealing with customers who are upset and have a problem that needs to be solved. Leaders must have the confidence to trust employees to do the right thing and then take the time to recognize the above-and-beyond interactions.
Call center managers must recognize agents who have stellar performance and help the ones who don’t. Who is rated highly by customers on the end-of-interaction feedback forms? Which agent tends to upset already-emotional customers? Hopefully, your technology can tell you. Customer service is at the heart of every business, so stellar agents deserve recognition for what they do.
Giving incentives to agents for their continued improvement and success is a good way to motivate them to strive to do better, and it will help with morale. Having meaningful, ongoing coaching and training will boost employee satisfaction, too.
4. Invest in technology that makes their jobs easier.
You have a bustling call center with fantastic staff. But how easy is it for them to do their job and do it well? Make communicating easy by using technology that ‘does it all’ in one place. Your call center software should enable your agents to easily connect with customers and with each other. Can they talk to customers across all channels and get assistance from their managers when they need help resolving an issue? Contact center software that has built-in unified communications allows everyone to chat and handle issues fast.
Giving your employees the right technology to do their jobs leads to higher productivity and motivation. When the employee experience is better, the customer experience is better. It’s that simple.