Contact center turnover rates have historically been high. Couple that with the spike in attrition rates across the country (and the world), and the problem becomes even more serious.
What is causing the increasing agent churn? First is the U.S. job market, with rising job numbers and a decreased unemployment rate. These factors create more opportunities for agents looking to leave the contact center industry. The second factor is an increase in customer unruliness. Since the start of the pandemic, stories of rude, agitated customers have been on the rise. Trying to calm them can be difficult and sometimes impossible. This negativity and toxicity have prompted many agents to seek employment in more positive, supportive environments.
Combating these realities will take more than just small changes. Contact centers looking to retain their valued agents now need to adopt modern, innovative workforce optimization solutions to boost agent engagement and satisfaction. Below are a few ways to optimize your workforce and avoid high contact center turnover rates:
Until recently, most contact center agents were forced to tab through multiple systems to find the information they needed during customer interactions. This increases call time and makes it more challenging to solve customers’ problems quickly and effectively. Workforce optimization software, though, can create a more streamlined, centralized approach to knowledge management and give agents the information they need in real-time.
This technology is helpful after customer interactions, too. Task automation tools can go a long way in supporting agents. By automating the tasks that agents regularly complete, companies enable them to bypass more mundane or repetitive responsibilities. They can concentrate on doing the higher-level aspects of their jobs rather than feeling like they’re always manually inputting data or filling out paperwork. As a result, agents feel more valued and, as a result, engaged.
Contact centers have typically focused on measuring, monitoring, and improving. As such, companies put tools in place to score agents’ capabilities based on everything from call length to post-call customer survey responses. Sometimes, leaders would overlay “soft skill” elements like empathy and product knowledge onto the raw score to glean a more comprehensive result. After scoring, contact centers would then put in place training programs to fill gaps.
The biggest issue with this kind of contained feedback loop is that it doesn’t always consider the agent’s perspective. That’s why some contact centers have moved toward more proactive, real-time measurements that allow for immediate agent responses and improvement. For instance, during a heated call, an agent may see a quick screen pop-up that says, “You’re raising your voice. Take a breath, calm down, and listen.” Later, the agent could receive a reminder to watch a video on de-escalating intense conversations during five minutes of downtime. Instead of being judged for a reflexive action, the agent is nudged toward positive solutions in a constructive (not critical) way.
Gamification technologies are an innovative, rewarding way to optimize your workforce. For example, agents who have 17 great customer interactions in a row may receive a reward tag that their colleagues can see. The tag identifies them as experts at answering complex calls effectively.
Ultimately, this gamified approach to recognition and reward leaves agents with a sense of pride — and a desire to compete for more badges. In such a competitive labor market, giving employees a reason to feel proud and valued goes a long way.
One powerful tool in contact center optimization is AI technology. AI-powered bots, for example, can “listen” to a call and make suggestions right away to guide the agent’s actions. At the same time, AI assistants can fetch information, automatically populate cells, and shape the flow of the overall experience for both agent and customer.
AI can go much deeper, too, and detect stress or interpret interruptions. It can serve as an active assistant to make an agent more productive, empowered, and confident, increasing the odds that they’ll stay in their positions.
Bolstering agent engagement and support is a priority for contact centers today as they try to combat turnover and boost retention. Workforce optimization tools and technologies make that goal increasingly achievable. To learn more about optimizing your workforce with the right tools and technologies, get in touch today.