Now that you have successfully onboarded your agents and deployed an effective development strategy, it’s time to think about the final — and some would say the most important — step. You’ve invested time and resources turning your tenured agents into highly effective customer service professionals. You need to protect that investment by retaining them long term with the right strategy to keep them engaged, happy and highly productive.
According to SHRM, “when a significant number of your employees are long-tenured, they know their jobs well and are highly productive, which frees up time and resources for innovation and growth.” However, research from Harvard Business Review suggests that “the employees with the longest tenures in your company are also the least likely to be engaged.”
When employee turnover takes place, it reduces morale and places additional strain on your remaining staff until you’re able to hire replacements. Even if you’re able to backfill roles quickly, hiring is expensive and a high rate of turnover reduces the average competency of your workforce, as new hires take time to gain the knowledge and skills they need. The result? A worse experience for your customers and higher operational expenses for your contact center.
There are a number of techniques you can go through to keep your long-tenured workforce engaged and reduce turnover as much as possible. At this point, employees will be looking for a strong community, lower stress levels, increased flexibility, opportunities to advance and strong alignment with the company mission.
AI-infused solutions are a great way to reduce time spent on simple inquiries or redundant tasks, so that your experienced agents can focus on more interesting, challenging problems or creating long-term value with your VIP customers. One way to achieve this is by deflecting calls with intelligent self-service tools like a customer-facing knowledge base, chatbot, or virtual agent. Another is through tight integrations between your contact center platform and other systems that agents use, enabling automation of simple, repetitive tasks. Finally, consider building routing logic and steps in your IVR that direct higher value interactions (like upsell opportunities) to your most experienced agents. Not only does this make their day-to-day jobs more interesting and fulfilling, it clearly demonstrates trust, appreciation and the potential for upward mobility.
Work-life balance options are also a good way to keep your staff motivated. You can adopt mobile-friendly solutions to allow your agents to work from anywhere, at any time, on any device. A flexible scheduling system is a good way to reward top-performing agents. Consider giving them greater autonomy to manage their own schedules by assigning specific scheduling and break rules just for tenured top-performers, or giving them the opportunity to pick priority shifts according to preference.
In addition to greater flexibility and improved work-life balance, a combination of thoughtful recognition and greater responsibility can go a long way towards keeping your tenured top-performers motivated. This can come in the form of social recognition, such as highlighting a specific agent’s use of best practices as a teaching moment during a group coaching session, or positioning them as mentors to new hires. You might even consider giving certain agents more autonomy to make decisions related to customer interactions, like approving small discounts. Regardless of the specific tactics you chose to adopt, it’s critical to make top-performing agents feel like their strengths are recognized and rewarded over time.
Harvard Business Review concludes that employees who exhibit a combination of tenure, talent and engagement perform 18% higher than the average employee. Engaging your employees is a continuous, 360º process. Talent should be developed from different angles and at all stages of the employee experience to ensure that your workforce is engaged, motivated, and has the right skills to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
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