When 45% of your agents take a spin through the revolving door to leave your company each year, it isn’t good for morale. And it isn’t good for your customers.
Recruiting and training new hires cuts into the valuable time available for coaching and developing your team. Growing your agents is important to keeping them happy at work. And, helping your agents’ refine their skills expands their knowledge, too, so they can consistently deliver great service for your customers.
It’s simple. If your agents aren’t happy (hint: they’re not), your customers won’t be happy.
The flustered feeling your agents have when they can’t find the information they need rattles your customers. And the negativity your agents have because they don’t feel supported at work seeps right through the phone or keyboard back to your customers.
So, how can you, manager, improve an agent’s mood?
Hmm. How about a casual day at the office? Or, what about ordering pizza for lunch?
That’s not what your agents actually want. While standing around in shorts, eating pizza, might provide a short lift to an agent’s mood, it doesn’t have a lasting impact. And with many organizations shifting to remote cultures, even these quick jolts of happiness and fun gatherings are nearly impossible.
Instead, focus on making employees happy and improving the underlying agent experience for more sustainable results. Here’s how.
- Give your agents efficient tools and processes to increase their productivity.
- Serve up frequent coaching and training to your agents, so they can improve their effectiveness and customer approach.
- Empower your team with more autonomy. And, clearly communicate how each individual impacts your company’s vision.
Just because employees stick around doesn’t mean they’re actually happy.
Sticking around doesn’t necessarily signal a sense of loyalty to your company. Some agents stay in their seats and show up, but they’re just biding their time until a better opportunity comes along.
Luckily, there are ways to find out if your agents are truly happy. You can use metrics like eNPS and Walker’s loyalty matrix to learn how your agents feel about their jobs. Are they super agents or at a high risk to leave? Are they advocates for your company’s recruiting efforts or are they detractors?
Use employee engagement surveys, 1:1 conversations and other agent-focused metrics to get insight into the core components of your agent experience. And, to learn what your agents expect from their experience at work. Then, act on what you find to improve their experience for the better.
Where do my agents fall on the happiness spectrum?
At one end of the spectrum, you’ll find the super agent. This is your team’s cheerleader. They go above and beyond for your company and your customers.
In the middle, you’ll spot the agents who need a boost to their empowerment. While they don’t seem to be eyeing the exits, they’ll leave if an opportunity presents itself.
These middle-grounders are typically the hardest to identify because they’re non-confrontational, rather than problematic. There are a variety of reasons these agents stick around. For starters, they might not have any other realistic job to pursue. Sticking around is the safe option. Or, they might be happy with a few aspects of their job, but disappointed with a few more. They’re still unsure of the move they want to make.
A hidden danger with your middle-ground agents is that they keep their heads down, so they can hang on to the safety and stability of their current role. They’re unhappy, but they don’t vocalize their unhappiness to their managers.
Then, at the furthest end of the spectrum, are your high-risk agents. Unless some major changes happen in your contact center, and fast, they’re headed for the door. They might hang around to collect a few more paychecks until their ducks are in a row, but then they’re gone. These agents have been unhappy in their roles for quite some time, and they’re one step away from their tipping point.
Just because your contact center employees are working, productive and present doesn’t mean they’re happy.
Here’s how you can help your agents succeed.
Your agents want to be great at their jobs and help customers. They crave efficient tools and processes, a supportive work environment and coaching and training that makes them effective problem-solvers.
To set your team up for success, ask yourself questions about how to improve the agent experience.
- How do agents feel about the tools they use to do their job? Are they intuitive and easy?
- Do agents understand and benefit from our processes and policies, or do they find them too restrictive?
- Do agents feel like they really understand customers’ pain points and priorities, so they can personalize service and empathize?
For many contact centers, the missing component of the agent experience is empowerment. You have metrics and processes to drive efficiency and effectiveness, but empowerment is more obscure. So many metrics and so much sentiment feeds into your agent’s empowerment, that it’s hard to grasp.
But the questions below can help. Here, empowerment talks to an agent’s perceived value, ongoing development, and fit within the team.
- Do my call center employees seem happy?
- What are their stress levels like?
- Is this a cohesive team, or do they work in isolation and/or competition?
- Do I know my agents’ skill gaps—and do I provide them with ample, relevant training opportunities?
Too often, empowerment is missing from the agent experience equation. Efficiency and effectiveness are easy to see. And, you can fix them with better resources, more frequent coaching and intentional development. But empowerment is the piece that humanizes your agent experience. To empower your team, you have to lead with empathy. You have to treat your agents as thinking, feeling human beings rather than a way to drive metrics.
If agents don’t feel valued and set up for success, then enthusiasm and pride erode. And your revolving door of agents keeps spinning.
We originally published this article on July 24, 2018, and we updated it for fresh insight on July 9, 2020.