Customer support agents are the backbone of contact center operations but it’s no secret that the customer service attrition rate is notoriously high. The Harvard Business Review cites customer support turnover as high as 45 percent—twice the average turnover in other departments. Moreover, research from a 2022 NICE WEM Global Survey shows that this number grows to 50 percent when companies have more than 5,000 support agents.
How can companies thwart customer service attrition? The answer is more straightforward than you’d think: keep your employees happy. Taking the steps to make sure your employees are happy today will save you money in the long run. A study from McKinsey & Company found that it can cost up to $20,000 per new agent hire after accounting for training, hiring costs, and lost productivity during ramp-up. CX leaders are saving money by shifting their focus to creating enjoyable employee experiences and working hard to turn those frowns upside down.
The big question is: how do you keep customer service employees happy and engaged? Here are ten ways to boost contact center employee productivity and morale:
- Ensure Customer Experience Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) address customer pain points and experience signals identified by CX team members.
To stay ahead of unpredictable market conditions and anticipate changes in consumer behavior, you need the agility to flag and rapidly address experience signals that indicate hiccups in your customers’ end-to-end experience. By developing OKRs that aim to resolve customer pain points and address experience signals, your CX team members will be better equipped to handle customer interactions which ensures a more positive, and less stressful, experience for all.
- Clearly communicate CX-related OKRs and involve teams in determining best-practice execution strategies to achieve key results.
Openly sharing OKRs is an invitation for customer service and other departments to be involved and discuss OKRs that are outside their normal day-to-day activities. Involving those that have a direct impact on whether or not the OKRs are met allows them to provide alternative solutions on how to achieve these goals and ensures they feel that their voice is heard.
- Collaborate with the Employee Experience team in developing EX OKRs.
Partner with HR to understand the complaints coming from your agents and support teams. Their complaints and retention affect your CX strategies directly, and they are the closest to the customers you are trying to delight. HR can help you ensure you leverage best practices for employee engagement and satisfaction.
- Offer performance incentives that reflect CX improvements as a priority.
Incentive programs involving monetary or tangible rewards are proven to keep employees engaged and productive. While the metrics around performance can vary depending on the program, a focus on improving CX metrics will not only keep customers happy but will give employees a clear goal to work towards.
- Create a culture that encourages positive attitudes toward flexible work arrangements.
Workplace flexibility is one of the top factors that affect job satisfaction while having an inverse effect on attrition. And, according to the 2021 State of the Contact Centre report, it’s anticipated that the flexible work environment trend is here to stay with 53 percent of agents working in a hybrid environment and 47 percent of agents working remotely.
- Invest in training, especially as it offers a path to career advancement.
Show an interest in your employees’ professional growth by investing in training programs. Access to adequate learning and development opportunities results in increased performance, more engaged employees, and an improved bottom line as you are helping employees to grow their skill sets (and in turn, your business).
- Offer native-language (or preferred-language) customer and employee support experiences.
Native-language support is a diversity, equity, and inclusion requirement. Your customers’ behavior demands it, your employees deserve it, and when they get it, both your CX and your EX improve. Get creative with ways to introduce native-language support to employees such as creating “word of the week” games to promote bilingual learning.
- Reward cross-organizational collaboration.
Cross-functional teams meet more regularly to dissect customer insights and iterate as your programs evolve. When done successfully, it keeps everyone aligned on company goals and can yield significant benefits toward proving the ROI of your program. Reward cross-organizational collaboration through positive reinforcement and establish feedback loops to improve the overall experience.
- Invest in CX technology, software solutions, and tools for automation, streamlining, artificial intelligence, and customer feedback.
2020 drove a digital revolution and GetFeedback’s 2022 State of CX Report revealed 41 percent of respondents had accelerated digital transformation efforts in response to the pandemic, which means business is more global (and online-enabled) now than ever before. Investing in tools such as unified agent desktops create a user-friendly and productive environment for agents – bonus points if the technology has multilingual capabilities.
- Reduce reliance on voice-only customer support.
Because hiring typically can not keep up — especially in businesses that scale up and down seasonally — the question of how support teams are supported becomes mission-critical to answer. When it comes to hiring for customer support, hire for skills, not language. Diverting from voice and opting for digital channels to support multilingual customer experiences and localization outperform multilingual hiring for ROI.
It is clear: You can accomplish your goals with incentivized, cross-team collaborators, even more so with automation and tools in place to streamline workflows, understand customers, empower agents, and reduce everyone’s stress.
Each person must feel their power to impact the growth of the business with access to the teams, such as IT and your executives, who can close customer experience gaps. They need visibility into both the metrics that indicate genuine customer satisfaction and those that teach them to quickly identify experience gaps. With those insights, and executives who value those insights, your agents’ power and desire to identify problems expeditiously and deliver solutions that consider the customer journey empathetically increase. With that power to improve CX comes an improved EX — everyone wins.