Staff Retention; When does staff retention begin?
Retention strategy begins long before individual members of staff join an organization.
The image an organization portrays and how attractive it is to potential employees is crucial.
Understanding why employees leave and asking why some people do not want to work for your
business or reject your job offers is a useful starting point in trying to determine whether your
organization has a staff retention problem.
Call center staff turnover is notoriously high. Many businesses struggle to retain their best call
center employees. It’s probably no surprise, as employees don’t typically view call center work as a
long-term career option. After all, handling calls from angry customers and working long hours can
get old fast.
A challenge indeed! However, there are powerful steps that, if taken quickly, will not only stem the
tide of turnover, but also make your organization a magnet for prospective employees. Your
company will establish a positive reputation for attracting the best people, and for looking after
First, give your staff additional interesting work that involves research or accessing the Internet.
Regardless of job type, people's number one motivator is to feel valued.
In addition, consult and take heed of your team members: ask everyone, individually, what they
feel could be done to make their work time of greater interest, and act upon their suggestions.
You should start off by asking your employees about their work and what aspects they like and
dislike you need to know their hearts and minds. You will find that for some it is merely a job that
will give little pleasure. For employees who fit into this category, resign yourself to the fact that you
can do little to retain them long term.
You will find others, however, who enjoy many aspects of the job. Find out which aspects give
pleasure and work to enhance them.
It may be, for example, the social element, or the fact that they are helping other people, that
make the job rewarding for them. Make sure such needs are satisfied.
A common demotivation for call center staff is the lack of support team/back office back-up. If
support team people do not fulfil the promises made by call center staff, those staff will feel they
have let their customers down. Get your call center staff and support people together regularly to
make sure they are working in harmony.
Create an open culture
Staff engagement can be driven by an open
and transparent business. This leaves both
parties in more beneficial positions.
By offering forums, suggestion schemes and
business scorecards, employees of all levels
are able to air their views and concerns. This
creates a workplace where people feel valued
and where they believe their views are heard.
By doing this, not only will a contact center be
able to maximize customer satisfaction levels,
staff will feel involved in business decisions
and be motivated in their roles. Better
employee engagement results in better job
satisfaction, reducing the desire to change
A relatively obvious tip, but one that
nonetheless shouldn’t be ignored.
Once employees are aware of the role they
play in individual areas of the organization,
and how this fits in to the bigger business
picture, it is easier to assign financial rewards.
One way, of course, is through an employee’s
salary. If it is reward-related and reviewed
through an annual appraisal scheme, a
business can identify a particular employee
who contributes to the overall business plan
and its objectives.
Incentivized pay schemes help encourage
employees to achieve goals. Morale increases
as staff will be more satisfied in a role that
offers a challenge and delivers a result.
Offer appropriate financial
Promote from within
Another important aspect is to have a policy
of promoting internally. It works well for the
business in terms of cost, and also the
experience of a person that’s been on the
phones at the company makes them a good
candidate for development within the
management structure of the company,
because they’ve got the best knowledge.
It’s also a motivational factor because people
can see that once they get into a call center
they can progress very quickly into a team
leader role. From there they can often keep
moving up, or branching out into one of the
support functions like recruitment or training.
Vary agents’ daily work if
It’s hard to get away from the fact that the
daily work of call-handlers can become
Moving staff around departments every so
often, if they fancy a change, is a good way to
deal with this.
Being a call center we need our staff to be flexible, as we set our schedules in line with our clients’
needs. Have a shift-swap policy in which if the shifts an agent is given aren’t suitable, they can find
someone else in the department to swap with.
In a department with 300 people that means there’s a good chance someone will be willing and
able to swap. We also have a flexible working policy in place because that’s something that
employees seem to value as much as anything these days.
One of the most overlooked pieces of the call center equation is successfully evaluating the skills
and performance of each individual team member. Are they following laid down processes? Who
are your bottom performers and why?
The agent evaluation process is evolving with the changing mission of the contact center. The first
thing to consider should always be how do the attributes we measure contribute to achieving the
broader goals of the enterprise?
The goals of the enterprise are typically spelled out in formal business plans. They will include both
quantitative and qualitative objectives. In larger companies these broad goals are translated into
specific actions by each department or business unit and then filtered down to operating groups like
the contact center. In smaller organizations formal objectives may not be written down but they do
Your senior manager should know these goals and has the responsibility of sharing this information
with contact center management. From there it is your responsibility to map out departmental
goals that can be converted into KPIs and identify the evaluation criteria that directly support the
achievement of these goals.
Call Center Analysis and Call Center Process
When it comes to evaluating a call center, there are two primary components to consider – call
center analysis, which captures and analyzes performance data, and call center process
improvement. Ultimately, data collected should be used to improve customer satisfaction and lower
costs while also increasing revenue.
When analyzing a call center’s success, there are a number of important metrics that should be
reviewed on an ongoing basis. These include but not limited to:
1. First Call Resolution
2. Response time
3. Self-service accessibility
4. Contact Quality
5. Adherence to schedules
Growing Your Team
While growth opportunities can usually be discussed during an interview in the hiring process,
sometimes a call center employee with aspirations can get discouraged.
Call centers are historically flat organizations with few opportunities to advance.
Even the most dedicated employees will have rough days when they question their job or career
choice. It’s good to be mindful of what employees are thinking and feeling.
If they’re feeling discouraged about a ceiling they may feel is there, remind them of the
opportunities they have, the different paths their careers can take within the company, and help
them set attainable goals to get moving on one of those paths.
• Promote agents reaching the end of their peak performance curve into escalation agents –
Every call center receives those calls from unusually irate customers who refuse to talk to a
“regular” agent and demand the attention of a higher-up. Some agents stagnate because they’re
bored. Assign them to handle these escalated calls and watch them step up to the challenge!
• Have agents reaching the end of their peak performance curve respond to service alerts – Every
survey project CRM launches includes (customized) triggers that immediately alert the call center
management staff to an at-risk customer experience. Make your more tenured agents responsible
for researching these case histories and following up with these customers. You’ll be amazed at
how quickly they integrate this new information into their call handling and how vocal they
become in communicating what they’ve learned to their peers on the call center floor.
• Be supportive of the fact that for some agents, the call center is only a launching pad – While
this may be frustrating to many of us who invest a fair amount of time training and educating
agents, the fact is that not everyone wants to remain in the call center for eternity. Support your
agents in growing towards their career vision and you’ll earn their loyalty and best effort while
they’re with you.
During the hiring process, you can also evaluate candidates for their motivational fit. You want to
hire employees that are motivated to be at work and perform but not so motivated that they expect
frequent promotions. Using personality assessments in the hiring process can help you determine
the right motivational fit for your job.