Regardless of what industry you’re in, customer service is becoming increasingly important in building brand loyalty. Research by Ovum shows that an astounding 76 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with an organization after having had just one bad customer experience. And since people can now basically access a global marketplace that’s open 24/7, more and more companies are relying on contact centers to establish their relationship by providing good customer service which will help drive brand loyalty.
However, establishing a contact center with a workforce of skilled talent who can provide solutions while simultaneously functioning as brand ambassadors can be challenging, not in the least due to the high turnover rate in this type of service. According to Penny Reynolds in her Quality Assurance & Training Connection article titled “Exploring Call Center Turnover Numbers,” the average turnover rate for call centers is between 30 and 45 percent. In contrast, Compensation Force lists the average turnover rates for all industries as 16.7 percent. Moreover, high agent turnover compromises performance, which in turn has an adverse impact on the customer service experience and efforts to build brand loyalty.
It’s all about hiring the right people and surrounding them with the tools, support and a positive culture they’ll need to be successful. So what can companies do to enhance contact center agents’ performance, and train them to become outstanding brand ambassadors?
First of all, it’s important to recognize the constraints of brick-and-mortar contact centers. In addition to the obvious disadvantages of being subjected to site outages, inclement weather, and other events that impact business continuity, requiring agents to be on-site limits the available talent considerably. A virtual contact center, on the other hand, allows you to source talent from around the country, by bringing the work to them, which inevitably provides access to a much larger and richer talent pool. In addition, it allows you to include workers in your talent pipeline who may need or prefer to work from home.
Second, be talent-centric and cast a wide net. There are many workers out there who might not have a customer service background but who are interested in learning. While it’s possible they don’t consider being a customer service agent their ultimate career objective, they’re very likely to want to establish a strong relationship with a company that can help them advance and find interesting jobs throughout their career. It’s key, therefore, to get to know your people and determine how you can best help them move forward in their careers.
Third, provide good training and technology. A lack of technology and tools training can be extremely frustrating for workers—and it’s one of the main reasons for high turnover. You need to invest in user-friendly, effective technology and provide effective up-front and on-going training. Doing so enables the workers to provide excellent service and enhance their skills along with expanding their opportunities. Solid skills verification and ongoing development can be key to ensuring the delivery of quality customer service along with providing Agents with the opportunity to continuously learn.
Fourth, make sure your contact center agents feel supported, engaged, and part of a team. Technology can be used to create online platforms where your team can check in with each other, as well as their managers and tech support. It can also be leveraged for engagement, performance management & enhancement, and team building by means of gamification, competition, and social media such as message boards and IM. Applying social media concepts can be equally as effective in business as it is in the public domain.
Finally, make sure your people are attached to the culture of your organization. Building a culture and environment that is connected and inclusive of the home based agents will be the glue that fortifies the agent’s work life. Stay connected as much as possible through regular touch points and communications. Develop a cadence with your employees to maintain regular communication with their team and leaders. This is essential and can be accomplished through many different channels of communication, voice, video, chat, email and gamification. Staying connected and the sense of not being on an island is imperative to making your people feel valued—and that’s critical to enhancing engagement and retention.
Creating an effective contact center that builds brand loyalty can be challenging. But with these points in mind, you can establish a robust talent management system that not only brings out the best in your talent, but also keeps your customers coming back.