Agent Retention: 4 Mistakes You’re Making in the Work-From-Anywhere World

Over the last few months, contact center agents have seen considerable change, from increasing workloads to evolving work environments. And now many agents have to pivot again, this time to a hybrid work model where some coworkers are remote and others are in the physical contact center.

Hiring managers primarily view this shift as a good thing, as it expands the available talent pool significantly. The flip side is that your agents now have more job opportunities than ever before.

That’s why it’s crucial to make agent retention a top priority (if it isn’t already). Your agents are often the only real humans your customers interact with. So why wouldn’t you focus on making them feel supported, connected, and happy?

In the past, contact centers have implemented things like gamification, contests, and prizes to keep agents engaged and make this notoriously stressful job a bit more fun. But while these tools have some impact on agent happiness, in the new work-from-anywhere environment there are better ways to enhance your agents’ work experience and improve customer satisfaction simultaneously.

The happiness equation is simple: happy agents = lower attrition = happy customers. Yet the realization of it is less so. Here are four common mistakes that lead to agent attrition in the work-from-anywhere world and how to fix them.

Mistake 1: Making working remote a reward for good performance.

This is a common mistake that occurs as contact centers implement a hybrid work model. With the expanding job market, agents have a slew of remote work opportunities and could jump ship quickly. If you don’t give your agents the option to work in-office or remote, they will find a company that does.
Using remote work as a performance incentive can also create animosity and inequality in the workplace, affecting company culture and morale.

Go the extra mile and provide flexibility around where and when employees work and be creative about scheduling.

Mistake 2: Thinking agent retention starts on day one.

There is a misconception that the employee experience starts the first day your agent handles calls and interacts with customers, but this isn’t the case. Employee satisfaction begins from their first touch during the interview process. And it continues to be impacted as you reduce friction throughout the recruiting, onboarding, and training process.
The goal for recruiting should be to reduce friction in the application process, identify the ideal agent early on, and make the interview experience an organized and straightforward process.

Read Recruiting Smarter: Key Tips for Hiring Quality Agents in the Work-From-Anywhere World.

You can simplify onboarding by using an online portal where paperwork can be done without downloading, uploading, and sending to multiple individuals in your HR team to get them into the payroll system and receive benefits.
The training process should clearly state the time agents will have to move through it. This process should also remain consistent, regardless of where that employee is working (remotely or in the physical contact center).

Here’s how to effectively onboard and train agents in the WFA environment.

Mistake 3: Adding more technology, not the right technology

Consistency is key when you have agents working from different environments. A common mistake in keeping the delivery of customer service consistent is adding more technology tools. This only adds to agent frustration as they try to juggle and toggle back and forth between multiple platforms.

When you cut down on the tech that adds to agent stress and confusion, you free up budget that can be allocated to compensating agents for a job well done.

Read Don’t Add More Technology, Add the Right Technology.

When agents first moved to a fully remote setting, there was a mad dash made by contact center leaders to purchase more technology to aid their agents. This was not the answer then, and it’s not the answer now.

Provide your agents with the essential technology that focuses on them doing their job efficiently, effectively, and most importantly, consistently to ensure that agents, regardless of physical location, are delivering customer service the same way for every scenario, every time.

One technology you should use carefully is silent monitoring software. While it is a great way to go over mock calls with your new agents and give them tips on how to perform their jobs better, the use of monitoring systems after training can create an atmosphere where agents feel micromanaged and not fully trusted. Agent productivity and success can be easily assessed by statistics like AHD, Escalation, FCR, and more, allowing your agents to feel valued, trusted, and independent.

Mistake 4: Not creating a company culture focused on connectivity and collaboration.

Your agents are human. To improve your organization’s ability to attract and maintain human talent, you need to create a company culture that ensures they feel valued, connected, and involved in collaboration with co-workers, managers, and leaders.

Employees today are looking for companies that value their contributions, provide flexibility, support their growth, and show genuine interest in their wellbeing both inside and outside of work.

  • Listen to your agents. Hold daily, weekly, or monthly calls where agents, managers, and leaders can openly express where they are struggling, suggest ways to better connect with their colleagues, or discuss other issues inhibiting them from doing their job effectively.
  • Provide tools that show your agents are valued. By providing agents with the right technology, training in the technology, and the opportunities to give input on how it is enhancing or impeding their work, you demonstrate that you care about their wellbeing and ability to manage their stress level. When your agents feel valued, so will your customers.
  • Create opportunities for growth in career advancement and earning potential. One of the factors spoken about regularly regarding agent attrition is that many agents feel like this stressful job lacks upward mobility and a slow, minimal, or nonexistent salary increase. Regardless of where your agents are located, provide employees with clear paths for career advancement and opportunities for skill development. This motivates employees and enhances their overall capabilities.

Agent attrition has been a looming issue in the contact center industry since its inception. Much of this attrition has been due to the stress of the job, poor wages, and complicated or nonuniform processes.

In the last few months, these issues have been exasperated by the global pandemic, and agents have felt the impact on a grand scale with an increase in call volume, having to pivot to a remote work environment, and are now faced with an emerging hybrid work atmosphere.

Most leaders in charge of hiring and retaining talent are looking at this situation as an opportunity, as it has expanded the talent pool significantly, but they forget it also presents more job opportunities for quality agents. Due to this expansion in available contact center positions, it is more important now than ever to make agent retention a priority and focus on making the job simple and consistent while creating a positive work environment no matter where your agents choose to work.

Learn more about how Vistio can help avoid these mistakes today. Let’s Talk.

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