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3 steps toward keeping customer service agents

The art of retaining contact center agents – and staving off the high costs of turnover – entails a mix of workplace features such as motivation, comfort and benefits.

While turnover costs as much as 20 percent of an employee’s salary, according to the Center for American Progress, adopting key workplace practices as well as offering a package of benefits can help retain Brand Care Specialists, which is the title for agents at customer service provider Global Response.

Companies can build an alluring workplace atmosphere using a variety of methods, including offering creative incentives. Global Response Corp., for instance, rewards longevity: After 10 years of service, full-time Brand Care Specialists receive a gift of diamond earrings or a luxury watch. After 20 years, they are given a trip for two anywhere in the world.
“We’re a people business. Our business hinges on the strength of our relationships – and our relationships with our Brand Care Specialists are very important to us,” said Global Response Co-CEO Wendy Shooster-Leuchter. “This is another opportunity to celebrate them, to show they are appreciated.”

Opportunity for advancement

A primary motivator in the contact center is providing Brand Care Specialists with the opportunity to advance and training them in new skills that benefit both the agent and the workplace. Brand Care Specialists thrive on the challenge of working their way up through the ranks. And morale gets a boost when front-line workers know they can realistically win managerial or supervisory roles. Brand Care Specialists can also aspire to become trainers or step onto the quality assurance team.

“Brand Care Specialists are on a journey of constant improvement”

Regardless of what career track Brand Care Specialists choose, giving them the chance to become experts on a brand they love and to try new things, meet new people and practice new disciplines, creates a sense of ownership and can generate great satisfaction. Client visits can be inspirational and ongoing training gives the agent a sense of continuous betterment. Expertise in a brand can be rewarding in other ways as well: Clients may give Brand Care Specialists perks such as discounts, free samples and free products.

Being part of a team

While advancement is a personal journey, devoted Brand Care Specialists love the team dynamic. Those who feel a close bond with fellow staffers are more likely to remain dedicated to their role at the company, as they learn and grow together as a team. Team play can be encouraged with incentives like group lunches and gift cards for work that goes above and beyond.
Brand Care Specialists who are purpose-driven may take great pleasure when they realize their job is entirely about helping people with problems and finding solutions. They may be gratified by something as simple as helping a customer with information about care of a recently purchased product, or as moving as giving health-care support to a family weary of battling a child’s disease.

Comforts and conveniences

There are many small factors that play into the big picture of agent retention, including personal comfort and convenience. One example is easy access to the company’s location, whether by car or mass transit. Another, creating a warm and welcoming work environment within the call center makes employees feel at home. Personal workstations, break areas and a cafeteria help Brand Care Specialists balance work in a healthy way.

Meanwhile, traditional benefits – such as healthcare insurance, a 401k retirement plan, childcare and vacation, sick and personal time – can attract Brand Care Specialists to the job and also help keep them. Fifty percent of people in a MetLife study said benefits are an important reason for staying with their company.

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