Staff turnover can be high given the difficult challenges customer service and sales agents are faced with. Many times a company’s entire brand experience depends on the customer service delivered by call center agents.
Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to hire and retain great agents. More so than ever, it is paramount for call center leaders to retain loyal, talented, and committed agents who want to bring their best to the customers they serve. It is one thing to hire a good call center agent, and it is another to retain them.
Humach Chief Operating Officer, Kelly Uhlrich, grew up on the front lines of the outsourced customer service movement, starting first on the front lines handling customer service calls almost 30 years ago, then working her way through various operations, training, and quality management roles to senior leadership positions, and now as Humach’s COO, responsible for thousands of agents.
“I have never forgotten what it was like to be an agent. Even in my senior leadership roles you could often find me on the front lines. Customer service and sales agents are dedicated to their profession. It’s not all about the latest ‘perk’ – they simply want to feel valued for the important work they do”
Since first opening its doors in 1988, Humach has led the industry by providing precisely balanced human talent and advanced technology to create tailor-fit customer service and sales experiences for our clients’ customers that are unmatched by even their toughest industry competition.
“The Humach team consistently delivers tremendous value for our clients because of our commitment to a consistent agent attraction and retention system,” Uhlrich added.
Uhlrich recommends a commitment to 5 talent strategies:
1. Optimization of the Hiring Process
The idea of retaining a call center agent starts with hiring the right person for the job. Personality fit, dedication to a personal standard of excellence, and resiliency are top attributes for a successful agent. Humach recommends a streamlined process that maximizes the connection between the organization’s leaders and the candidates, and also respects the time of the candidates looking to join your team.
“This first step is crucial and often missed, especially in today’s challenging hiring climate. Create a profile of the top 20% of your best performing agents and be vigilant on finding those same qualities during your screening and hiring process”
2. Appreciate Each Agent’s IMPACT
Motivation is an intrinsic value that can’t be created through perks; however, it can be cultivated through appreciation. Many companies think in terms of perks, rather than rewarding impact. Showing appreciation for the impact your agents make as well as a job well done, spurs them to do even better, and it gives them a sense of importance. Rewards are meaningless if they don’t come with true appreciation.
Another aspect of appreciation is to also value who agents are… as people. Leaders of companies offering call center services can increase loyalty by showing interest in the problems of their employees such as health challenges, family issues, personality differences, emotional traumas, etc. Being interested means being available to support them through those difficult moments, too.
“Maya Angelou, one of the most inspiring and incredibly wise women of all time in my opinion said this, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you live by that rule, your agents will truly feel valued and appreciated.”
3. Value Agent’s Contributions and Input
Call Center agents are on the front lines, and as a result, they have a unique and valuable perspective. If we trust call center agents with our company’s brand experience, we should trust them when they suggest ways in which the company can improve the overall customer experience.
Whether it’s creating new channels to listen, or incentivizing feedback, genuinely valuing each agent’s input is paramount. Each team member should unequivocally know that their contributions are valued and welcomed.
“Some of the best processes and improvements we’ve made over the years have come from our front-line agents. Don’t take for granted the knowledge and ideas of your front line, who knows better than those amazing folks doing it day in and day out!”
4. Take Action on Their Input
It’s one thing to collect input, and an altogether other thing to do something with it. Leaders who create actionable plans based on call center input frequently have higher customer satisfaction scores (Off-page link to study). This can be done through lunch and learns, quarterly executive updates, and/or video-based celebrations when goals are met based on staff suggestions.
“Any company can conduct a survey or collect feedback via other means to check a box. At Humach we collect feedback, review it with the entire leadership team, publish the results (good and bad) to the entire company, and publish actionable items, timeframes for results, and recognition for suggestions.”
5. Make Training FUN
Finally, great training is a hallmark of the best customer service and sales strategies. Virtual training is now an integral part of a quality strategy as well as agent retention. It’s no longer sufficient to have great skills-based training. For the training to stick, it also has to be integrated in such a way that behavior changes, and the best way to do that is to make the virtual training fun. When agents are laughing and learning, performance will be positively impacted.
“Successful training programs are grounded in adult learning principles. A big part of that is to incorporate gamification. Make it fun! Interactivity, multimedia and a little friendly competition make the training memorable. Memorable training leads to changes in attitude, behavior and performance”
Agent retention is the key to providing great customer service and sales. Let Humach help you develop a hybrid-staffing model to ensure your customers receive the best customer experience in your industry.
For over 30 years, it’s been our mission to provide call center services that transform brands, support teams, and grow businesses. We’re here to answer all your questions and tell you about your options so that you can confidently decide if outsourcing is right for you. Ready to learn more? Contact the experts at Humach today!