6 Ways to Retain Contact Centre Staff

As common as it is costly, turnover is high in the call centre industry. Learn how to keep hold of your top talent with these effective employee-retaining tips below…

automation in customer service

Make no mistake, working in a call centre can be a challenge. Staff must deal with high levels of stress, unrealistic targets and, in certain workplaces, their fair share of micromanaging.

Coupled with the fact that it’s a job that’s often seen as transitional, turnover within the call centre industry is a very common issue. The numbers speak volumes: compared to the average UK rate of 15%, call centres face an annual employee turnover of 26%.

An employee exodus on this scale soon adds up when it comes to costs too. According to research by the Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), the average cost for replacing staff is around £6,125. For senior positions, this figure rises to £9,000.

So clearly, keeping hold of the talent that adds value to your organisation is vital. To make sure that happens, we’ll run you through some top retention strategies and tips below.

1. Create a positive workplace culture

Call centre employees and potential candidates want to work somewhere that inspires and motivates them. An organisation without a positive working culture, on the other hand, is a sure-fire way to get staff walking out the door.

Create an emotional attachment between staff and their work by putting measures in place that emphasise your business’ values. Maybe growth is something you feel strongly about. In which case, make sure you’re offering training, career development and plenty of employee feedback to your staff.

Or if work-life balance is a priority, then things like flexible office hours, hybrid work and more holidays can go a long way with employees.

Even things like company outings, team-building activities, seminars and recognition programmes can play their part, demonstrating to employees that you appreciate them on both a personal and professional level.

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2. Train up your staff

Training your staff in the right way can benefit both customers and employees. When they’re armed with new approaches to their role, agents are able to deliver top-notch customer experience. Plus, by stepping up their skills, employees feel more fulfilled and confident, taking on new challenges with greater ease as a result.

When they don’t feel like they’re learning anything new, it’s easy for staff to become detached and dissatisfied. And unhappy employees won’t stick around for long.

Make sure they have a reason to stay by investing in their training through a mix of team building, on-the-job training, and shadowing.

3. Give them a clear career path

Like we said up top, call centre roles tend to be pretty transitional. If the revolving door of staff is starting to make your head spin, you may need to change tack.

Rather than treating them as a job, start looking at call centre roles as a career. When employees have goals, and a path to pursue them with, they’re bound to become more invested in their role and the business as a whole. By doing so, employees have a chance to develop their knowledge, skills and expertise.

A great way of achieving this is by giving them routes to more specialised areas. If someone’s great at escalations, create measurable goals around this aspect. Or if a member of staff wants to move into forecasting, then encourage them to apply for such roles. By keeping these pathways measurable, and reviewing their progress together, they’ll be more motivated to take their career to the next level.

4. Support them with the right technology

If your employees are having to work on outdated systems and use processes that are slow and ineffective, it makes their job way more of a challenge than it needs to be. And that’s when frustrations and burnout start to creep in.

Instead of laggy software and convoluted systems, invest in technology that can help them be as productive as possible. A reluctance to opt for new technological solutions may see business pay a greater price. Even with all the right training, it won’t mean much if your team has to deal with poor processes, tools and workflows on a daily basis.

Likewise, if large parts of their day are taken up by repetitive tasks, then it’s well worth investigating which of these can be automated. By taking care of these time-draining duties, automation software frees your staff up to take on more fulfilling tasks and projects across the day.

5. Focus on the right metrics

When a business places too much emphasis on metrics such as average handling time and the number of calls handled, the day can feel like a real grind. In the pursuit of meeting these targets, employees often do whatever they can to achieve them. Not only does this affect their morale, but customer satisfaction takes a hit, too.

A focus on such metrics tends to result in greater micro-management as well. Instead of focusing on what matters, senior staff turn into bean counters, who are overly concerned with numbers. And no call centre employee wants to be hovered over throughout the day.

Instead, try focusing on metrics such as contact quality and customer satisfaction. Both of these are customer and employee-centric, and by pursuing these more qualitative areas, it’ll help to improve both employee performance and the customer experience as a whole. Plus, you’ll have the added advantage of improving your original productivity metrics without placing an overbearing emphasis on them.

6. Reward strong performance

If you’re in the habit of condemning bad behaviour without rewarding the good, then it sends a clear message: no amount of effort your agents put in will be enough for you. And when strong performance goes unnoticed, employees start looking for the exit.

A solid rule of thumb: reward good performance twice as often as you chide poor practices. Little gestures and more formal recognition strategies make a big difference, inspiring employees to strive for greater performance and boosting morale. Whether it’s a quick thank you, surprising them with vouchers for putting in more overtime or holding annual award ceremonies, recognising your employees goes a long way towards keeping hold of them.

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