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Agent Disengagement Solved

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SJS Solutions ShoreTel Guest Blog

With billions in revenue lost through disengaged agents and the inevitable (and costly) round of re-hires, onboarding and training, agent disengagement is a growing challenge. Can it be solved?

Here’s our take on it….

How many agents left your contact center in the last 12 months? The year before that?

According to a study by HR research and advisory firm McLean & Company, disengaged employees cost organizations an average of $3,400 USD a year for every $10,000 USD in annual salary.

Worse. A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development determines that at the industry recognised figure of a 26% turnover per annum, your contact center is completely changing staff every four years. To you it means that in some cases, every agent you have working for you today will have moved on in four years from today.

Scary stuff for Contact Center managers and executives. Troubling for HR, for team morale and potentially devastating for your customer’s experience.

Hopefully this is not the case and your agents will be with you for years, because if they are you are far more likely to have loyal, happy customers.

There’s something else about your agents leaving that you should know...When they clear their desk, they never go empty handed.I don’t mean a pocketful of pencils and five dollars worth of ‘post it’ pads.If that was all they took, happy days.

No. What they take is a whole new level of ‘expensive’.

They take the cost of recruiting, onboarding, training, managing and developing them. They take experience and inside knowledge about your company. The second they leave, all that is gone, wasted.

Of course to you, it means that when you fill that gap you start again, right from the beginning. It’s a costly business, losing a member of your team, and demoralising for those left behind. And the missing ‘post it’ notes… well that just tops it.

Also, when your agent made the decision to leave he or she will have started to pull back on the way they responded to customers. It’s natural really; there is no long term commitment and therefore, no short term reason to give it their best. They lose interest because one foot is out the door.

And this is the person who is representing your business, day in, day out, until they leave their desk for the last time.

Oh, they made waves, too. When the agent told his colleagues of his dissatisfaction at the job, they focus on theirs. They made a mental note to find out where the new job was, the money on offer, the hours, the set up. And maybe they start their own journey out the door. Sound familiar?

So what, if anything, can you do about it?...

Well, assuming that your rates of pay are standard, your general working practice is much the same as your competitors, then there are four key areas of an agent's day we should take a look at.

SJS Solutions, the developers of ‘Optymyse’ software for Contact Centers, have been working to solve the true cost of the disengagement puzzle with managers and executives at contact centers worldwide to identify the key causes of disengagement. In a new downloadable report that I authored, we discuss the challenges and difficulties we face in this industry, and have come up with four key ‘touch points’ for disengagement:

1. A Negative Use of Metrics. You know how important metrics are to you and your agents, but imagine turning up at work and seeing your line manager standing by your desk…

“Good day, I just dropped by to tell you how lacking you were at your job earlier and now it’s up there on the board, everyone knows it. Have a great day byeeee...”

That’s what metrics such as ‘Longest Wait’ do. Putting this kind of info out to your team demoralises agents. Exactly this is happening in hundreds of contact centers and it’s damaging.

2: Customer feedback. After call survey. Social feedback. When your agent does a good job, are you sharing it team wide? Keeping it between your agent and (maybe) his line manager is a waste. Share it. Share the love.

Spread the positive news from customers feedback, surveys, posts on Facebook and Twitter right across your team. When everyone gets to hear about a great job done, they all share a bit of the sunshine.

3: Build a Community Within Your Contact Center. Where do all (more or less) of your agents spend a lot of time online? Facebook. Twitter too.

Here’s the thing; both are communities. That means communities are important to your team, so as discussed in the downloadable disengagement report, it makes sense to build a social community within your business too.

Welcome messages, happy birthdays, positive feedback, photos of the new baby or the wedding, notice of Friday evening drinks…all these things help to create a community within the business. You are creating positive emotions that stick.

4. Your Brand as a Team Builder. Customer-facing businesses, fast food shops, the emergency services and football teams wear uniforms that develop team cohesiveness.

Not having uniform branding in place won’t be an obvious negative, so we’re not suggesting you start ordering in the t-shirts and baseball caps. But when brand messaging is so easy to do and so valuable to have, it’s worth considering how you can make it happen in your contact center. In the downloadable report, I discuss how Optymyse makes branding easier by placing your imagery and messaging right where the agents can see them throughout their shift.

There are other factors of course, and every contact center is different. But as a starting point, figuring out how to work through these four issues will see a marked difference in morale and help you start to solve the disengagement puzzle.

Shoretel Reseller?
Optymyse developers and ShoreTelOne Gold Sponsors’ SJS Solutions are working with Contact Centers Worldwide to solve the disengagement puzzle. If you are attending the ShoreTelOne conference in Orlando and want to help your customers improve agent engagement, register here for a tool kit to get you started.  

SJS Solutions is a sponsor of the 2016 ShoreTelOne Global Partner Conference, a gathering of ShoreTel’s channel partners and distributors as well as industry analysts and consultants from around the globe. The event will take place the week of Dec. 5 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla. Learn more about the conference here.

Stephen Pace is a true industry expert with over 20 years of experience in customer service and contact center technology. Before starting SJS in 2001, Stephen was responsible for contact center technology design and customer care quality for Europe’s largest express courier company, and he also ran smaller contact centers. Stephen is also a Tony Robbins UPW graduate, 2nd Dan Black Belt in Karate and father of two.