Reduce Attrition by Coaching Your Agents

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Filed under - Industry Insights,

David Geffen of NICE talks through how coaching to improve employee engagement will keep your attrition rates low.

In the US, the average contact center’s attrition rate is 33 percent, which means that most are replacing and retraining a full third of their staff each year. Imagine that level of turnover in any other context, and the idea is staggering.

What if you had to introduce yourself to a new doctor every third time you went to your general practitioner? What if every third day of a kitchen remodel, your general contractor showed up with a new apprentice to train?

For customers reaching out to your contact center, a 33 percent attrition rate means that callers are greeted by a rookie with every third interaction. You’d better believe that’s cause for major frustration.

One of the biggest causes of turnover in the contact center is disengagement. Global research indicates that most employees are not fully engaged at work; in the U.S. alone, a lack of engagement translates into a productivity loss of about $500 billion a year. Lack of engagement leads to higher absenteeism, more accidents, lower business profitability, inferior customer service and a lower share price.

The good news is that coaching offers a solution. In fact, research by the Human Capital Institute found that the top reported benefit of coaching is increased employee engagement. Coaching unlocks a person’s potential to maximize their own performance by helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

Julia Milner and Trenton Milner wrote in Harvard Business Review. “When done right, coaching can also help with employee engagement; it is often more motivating to bring your expertise to a situation than to be told what to do.”

If that’s the case, why aren’t more contact centers taking advantage of the power of coaching to improve their attrition rates and overall engagement?

What’s Getting in the Way of Effective Coaching

It turns out most organisations aren’t approaching coaching in a way that actually works. For many, coaching is simply not a top priority in their organisation. Only about 4 percent of the people in any given organisation are focused on coaching, and those who are focused on it only spend about 40 percent of their time on coaching.

In reality, that’s not that many hours spent on coaching, especially when spread out over a large base of front-line employees. So, it’s even more of a shock to learn most organisations are wasting their limited coaching time on the wrong thing.

They’re focusing their coaching efforts around specific interactions rather than on improving an agent’s overall performance and many simply don’t have the ability to look at an agent’s overall performance. What happens is that they don’t have the full picture and can’t understand what exactly is preventing an employee from reaching their objective.

Employees who are coached this way don’t feel as though they are viewed a whole person, and managers who coach this way don’t really understand where to help employees focus in order to improve. The result? Employees remain disengaged because they feel like they’re simply being reduced to a number rather than being coached on the behaviors that will allow them to meet their goals.

How to Use Structured, Personalised Programs to Effect Change

To truly drive contact center employee growth and performance, supervisors need to do three things:

  1. Aggregate all their sources of data to create a single picture and understand the metrics that affect their most important KPIs. Which metrics have the greatest influence over your agents’ ability to meet a given KPI?
  2. Use data to easily identify agents who need help, and the specific areas in which they need help.
  3. Drive an employee’s performance improvement through a structured performance program that addresses the agent’s specific behavior using objectives, tasks and focus areas that are adaptive and personalised to the agent. The program’s effect needs to be easily measured.

When you approach coaching in this way, agents become engaged in their own personal development.

David Geffen

Rather than feeling frustrated by their performance or feeling measured without being given the tools to improve, employees are empowered to effect change and have a positive impact on the organisation.

Coaching has an outsized impact on employee engagement, and as such it is too important to overlook. By identifying the agents and skills that have the greatest ability to impact your organisation’s KPIs.

Then by creating personalised programs to effect change, organisations can overcome the problem with coaching to engage individuals in their own improvement and drive real results.

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 14th Mar 2019
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