Nearshore Americas

10 Tips for Retaining Top Talent at Call Centers

For most contact centers managers, a significant amount of organizational effort is put into hiring qualified employees. But there can sometimes be less emphasis on retention. 

This might be because a job is seen as transitional, with no direct career path, or simply because a manager lacks the skills to retain the best talent. 

It needn’t be this way: high turnover is costly, and largely avoidable. Good retention makes a huge impact on an organization’s resources. It reduces the burden on operations and hiring teams and can help businesses focus on other priorities and KPIs.

So, to help you run more efficiently and effectively, here are ten tips to help you to retain your top talent:

1. Be realistic. Contact center managers don’t do themselves—or prospective employees—any favors by misrepresenting a job. The demands of the position should be discussed frankly and can be supported by realistic job simulations. 

2. Use the right technology. Hiring platforms can replace gut reactions with data, while limiting human bias. This can help to ensure that the job is a good fit for a candidate, thus promoting agent satisfaction and retention. A good example of this is Emmersion’s AI-powered assessment engine, which can certify language ability in eight languages.

3. Know the market. Contact center managers should be aware of the salary levels in their region to stay competitive with other organizations around them. Contact centers that don’t make allowances for inflation and industry changes risk losing employees to competitors.   

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4. Train. Agents are more inclined to stay if they’re supported and able to meet new challenges. Integrating training into a job plan keeps things interesting. This includes support for self-training. With helpful training programs, employees feel valued. Of course, the enhanced agent capabilities also benefit the contact center and its clients and reduce the need to let go underperforming agents. 

5. Hire to succeed. Agents want to feel that their company supports them and that it is interested in their personal development and success. Otherwise, they’ll leave. Increasing the odds of success includes ensuring that an agent has the right tools and technology. Many of these tools, such as quality assurance and workforce management solutions, are designed for managers, but can also help agents.

Employees are more likely to remain in their positions if they feel heard.

6. Encourage open and dynamic communication. Employees are more likely to remain in their positions if they feel heard. To ensure the best possible feedback, it’s important to open multiple channels—from casual conversations, messaging systems, integrated bulletin boards, or more formal questionnaires—while including processes that allow for anonymous feedback. Of note, a healthy environment should not only encourage agent-to-supervisor communication, but also agent-to-agent interaction.

7. Build a culture. Agents will be more inclined to stay if they feel attached to their workplace, and that they are part of a positive work culture. There are many ways to do this: outings, at-work activities, seminars, team-building activities, recognition programs and awards, and small perks. These and other, similar initiatives, can all be a part of a positive culture.

8. Provide positive feedback. Supporting agents with positive feedback improves morale, which can positively affect productivity and retention. In one study at a call center raising funds for a university, a scholarship recipient spent five minutes explaining to agents how their work had had a positive effect. After one month, agents who had met the scholarship student had increased funds raised by 171%. Among those who had not met the recipient, there was no change in performance. 

Employees in contact centers are often young and responds well to a more positive and playful work environment

9. Set goals for reducing turnover. Call centers average a 30% annual turnover rate. This is costly to organizations. It uses up valuable managerial resources and has a negative effect on workforce efficiency. Set goals for bringing your turnover rate down, and assess what’s working, and what’s not. Metrics can help here. For example, occupancy (time spent on calls resolving issues) should not exceed 80%, as this can lead to burnout, and can negatively affect performance.

10. Don’t be rigid. Employees in contact centers are often young—between 18 and 35 years old. This demographic not only responds well to a more positive and playful work environment, they also expect—and respond well to—a flexible managerial style. The most obvious win here is with scheduling. Leveraging self-scheduling, including shift-swapping, enhances a sense of employee control, while increasing job satisfaction and retention. 

Final Thoughts on Retention

Contact center turnover rates can be high—over 30%. Improving agent job satisfaction is the only way to address the issue. Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to resolve the problem. First, make sure you’re realistic. You’ll also want to do everything you can to hire the right people the first time—an automated, unbiased platform can help here. From there, it’s important to ensure that your salaries are competitive, and that your employees are supported by effective training and technology. 

If these factors are addressed, then the remaining issues are cultural: allow for open communication, provide positive feedback, be generous with activities/perks, and maintain flexibility. If contact center managers embrace these tips, while setting realistic goals, it’s very likely they’ll benefit from lower turnover, which will make their jobs easier, and improve their organization’s bottom line.

Tim Wilson

Tim has been a contributing analyst to Nearshore Americas since 2012. He is a former Research Analyst with IDC in Toronto and has over 20 years’ experience as a technology and business journalist, including extensive reporting from Latin America. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, he has received numerous accolades for his writing, including a CBC Literary and a National Magazine award. He divides his time between Canada and Mexico. When not chasing down stories, he is busy writing the Detective Sánchez series of crime novels.

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