Keeping Your Front-line Agents Fresh and Focused


The dreaded employee turnover needs no introduction. It’s one of the most crippling circumstances organisations of every shape, size, and offering face every single day. More alarmingly, the troublesome trait gets worse. In recent years, concrete statistics continue to reinforce the reality that those bustling centre scenes we collectively devote our efforts to have the highest turnover rate worldwide.

Don’t panic. There’s no need to nervously nibble on your fingernails. With well-documented case studies of one hundred percent centre turnover rates weighing down the web, losing employees at any cog of the customer service cycle really is a costly yet somewhat avoidable reality.

So, are your efforts to boost and maintain front-line focus a reflection of the quality of service being delivered?

No answer is necessarily correct here. What’s important is that you apply the best practices daily.

Demotivation demystified

At the next available opportunity, casually and openly discuss with your agents what they dislike most about centre life and you’ll quickly observe a common trend. That trend being the detrimental domino effect unmotivated agents have on both customer retention and turnover rates.

In defence of agents worldwide, as humans we become disinterested as a result of performing repetitive tasks or relaying the same information over and over and over again. Add to the workload spiking call queues, persistent pressures for better CSATs,  disgruntled customer disputes, and mounting agent responsibilities, and centres aren’t quite as chilled as computer chair races on the call floor, huh?

Here are some simple yet strategic techniques supervisors can apply immediately to boost and retain front-line agent focus. Let’s take a look.

#1. Hit home the importance of individual agents’ efforts

Are your agents fully aware of their individual yet imperative contribution to the ultimate fate of the centre?

Agents are the backbone of any contact centre. Let’s be honest, would your centre stay above water without their focus and willingness to assist your customers? In the absence of dedicated agent efforts, realistic targets are never reached, customers become increasingly dissatisfied and seek alternative providers, and centres effectively crumble.

Every centre needs agents in order to stay on target and ahead of leading competitors. By actively telling agents how much their efforts are appreciated, you’ll empower them to facilitate customers beyond their current technical and interpersonal ability.

#2. Preach the good word of effective teamwork

Does every agent in your centre understand the crucial importance of collective team efforts?

We’re not in any way, shape, or form going against Tip #1. While individual agent traits and personalities inject a much required, human element into every interaction, it’s important to consider that agents work as part of a wider team every single day. Strong like-minded teams support a more empowered means of working by removing avoidable constraints that may potentially hinder a particular agent’s abilities.

Without tight-knit teams of contented agents, the sincere efforts of those agents who embrace positive customer service are washed away by a sea of rising negative customer perceptions. Optimise the experience your customers receive by encouraging trusted teamwork on the floor.

#3. Prioritise and organise regular training opportunities

Are you regularly organising training opportunities to sharpen agents’ skills and knowledge?

Did you know – empowerment is an immediately positive by-product of involvement? If agents are provided with continuously constructive training opportunities, they’ll appreciate your willingness to support both their personal and professional development. In appreciating your determination to keep their best interests at heart, agents will embrace compromise and give it their all on every interaction. So supervisors take note; the Learning and Development Team are your best friends!

Think about it for a second. How can agents (or anyone) improve if appropriate training is not provided? Can you realistically afford to wave goodbye to your top-performing agents as a result of limited training and up-skill opportunities? Whether it be an hour-long classroom session on telephone etiquette or a brief twenty-minute e-learning module on handling customer hostility, there’s no benefits to or excuses for completely disregarding training efforts.

#4. Appreciate every single agent

Do you physically communicate with every agent and tell them how much their efforts are appreciated?
As humans, it can seem extremely easy to let our skills slip right through our fingers when we feel unappreciated. Centre life is no exception whatsoever. If agents feel unappreciated, they’ll continually deem their efforts as pointless as a back pocket on a t-shirt.

Mentally place yourself in their shoes. How would you feel?

Agents will become rapidly resistant to the positive impact of their efforts if they rarely feel appreciated. While chocolate cakes and cookies are always well received on the floor, appreciating agents can be as simple as a passing comment on a faultless customer call they handled. Remember, your ability to recognise and appreciate agents has a direct impact on their performance.

Your agents are your centre’s backbone

While centre life can be as stressful as changing the wheels on a moving Mustang, front-line focus really can be boosted and retained with immediate effect. There’s no need to completely restructure your centre or dive headfirst into cash allowances and budgets to eradicate employee turnover. While employee turnover will always be a reality in any profession, the reason for leaving stated on any exit form should never be “No support provided. I’ve found a better opportunity”, or anything equally negative.

If agents convince themselves, on the basis of their experiences, that they’ve been hired to pacify supporting financial bodies, their focus will frazzle and they’ll eyeball alternative employment opportunities.

So, supervisors, waste no time. As contagious agent deflation flutters across the floor, associated, half-hearted service efforts have the standalone power to sink your centre. As the electronic front of house for your brands, centre, and organisation, no other centre team or development stream communicates with customers more than your front-line agents.

The tips provided aren’t the answer to all your customer retention headaches, but we know for certain they’ll help if applied efficiently.

Keep up the good work. Your supervisory efforts are as appreciated as they are mandatory!

 

Published On: 20th May 2016 - Last modified: 6th Feb 2019
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