Employee retention is vital to the success of any business, but it is especially important for call centers, where each customer service representative reflects an investment of time and training resources. There are plenty of ideas on how to maintain high levels of retention, from Google-style relaxation stations to fun perks tied to performance levels. But although workers love free stuff and the freedom to set their own break schedule, the best methods for gaining agent loyalty are linked to how they feel about their workplace and their job.
No one wants to work for a company that treats employees like a number. Businesses that succeed at keeping top talent around for a long time do so by creating a company culture in which each person feels he or she is valued as an individual and is working as part of a team. Happy agents see that they are important to the success of the company for a variety of reasons, not just because they are meeting benchmarks on calls per hour.
Avoiding a Metrics Morass
Too often, call centers might be so focused on measurements that they fail to understand the importance of customer satisfaction and agents’ ability to create it. Workers must have the authority to make decisions in order to create a one-call resolution. If agents seemed rushed and abrupt with callers, the company may be looking at a low customer satisfaction rating, and that is a bigger problem than failing to meet unrealistic call-volume quotas.
It is often said that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. That means a company’s overall management style must be inclusive and supportive if it wants to retain employees. Managers should be able to recognize that workers learn in different ways and are motivated by different things. It is best if direct managers can talk with agents in a constructive and helpful way so that they are encouraging a dialogue, not issuing directives. Top-level managers should be checking regularly with customer service representatives to ensure they feel supported in their efforts to achieve the company’s mission.
In call centers, customers should come first. Agents must feel as though they are able to do everything they can to ensure top satisfaction ratings. Workers who get the impression that hitting call-volume benchmarks is more important that serving customers quickly, graciously and helpfully will not feel motivated to do a thorough job. If the company culture showcases customers as the top priority, workers will be happy to follow that lead.
Finally, every call center should have a structure in place to reward agents who are meeting goals or otherwise contributing well to the success of the company. It can be easy for individuals to feel lost in the large space of a call center, so finding opportunities for public pats on the back go a long way toward employee recognition.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to retain top call center employees. Where there is a focus on company culture and a supportive environment, agents likely will be happy to come to work each day.