Customer service has never been work for the weak. It takes someone with great self-control, a calm temperament and tremendous organizational skills to be successful. But even those who display the assets of a fantastic agent can experience a sudden drop in morale. For instance, increased workload, poor management, difficult customers, and more, can create a negative outlook in your agent’s eyes. As a call center manager, it’s important to observe your support team and get a sense of their general disposition. No, you don’t have to play therapist, but you can do a few things to re-engage those lethargic agents.
Don’t let agent burnout run like wildfire through your contact center. Here are 5 tips to help call center managers contain the stressors that lead to high turnover rates and help you retain top talent in the workplace. This is also an optional playlist to help liven up a dull workday (Think Michael Scott in The Office) — Who knew Queen was writing about agent engagement this whole time?
Give your agents realistic metrics to follow. Although it’s important to challenge your agents and set the bar high, making them meet these expectations 100% of the time is nothing but a pipe dream, and won’t get anyone very far. By setting realistic goals for your agents, they feel accomplished and happy that they’ve succeeded at the end of the day. Nothing kills an agent’s confidence and creates turnover faster than feeling like you’re always losing. Use gamification strategies that let agents work towards hitting milestones. As we’ve said before, customer service is a marathon, not a sprint.
Although your customer service agents might put on a brave face when they’re handling an unruly customer, I assure you they’re secretly looking for acknowledgement. The sad part is that only 31% of organizations recognize and reward their agents for improving the customer experience. Given that 89% of businesses now compete mainly on the customer experience, this is an important skill to harness. Agents can’t be expected to come into work bright eyed and bushy tailed with little to no recognition. Incentivize agents with awards and quarterly bonuses; this validates their work and will raise performance levels accordingly.
Today, service is more about quality, than quantity. Rather than tracking an agents call log, pay closer attention to their First Call Resolution (FCR), One Contact Resolution (OCR), amount of open/unresolved cases and their customer satisfaction rates. It should be noted when your agents are keeping customers happy and doing their job to resolve issues timely and effectively. Be fair to your agents and weight their performance across the board. Focusing solely on cost-per-call might seem economical but in the long run making happy loyal customers is the real moneymaker.
Work with your agents to develop a schedule that works for them. Stress on the job is only compounded when you’re employees are confined by restrictive schedules. Give agents options like annual hours, flex-shifts, and the option to work remotely. Remote work has been proven to help with a number of things. For instance, in a study by Stanford University, remote work options reduced employee turnover and job attrition rates by over 50%. It has also proven to decrease stress levels and drive better productivity. This not only gives agents autonomy but shows you trust them, which in turn creates mutual respect resulting in a more dedicated workforce.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes, and arming your agents with the right tools is one way to keep them motivated at work. For instance, 75% of customers would like the option to be called back rather than wait on hold, yet many call centers still don’t provide a call-back option. When you provide agents with the proper infrastructure you reduce the burden put on them to manage angry customers (because you’ll have less of them), and at the same time you’ll also improve the customer experience. It’s a no brainer!