Employee turnover in customer service is a major challenge. And call center agents have a higher average voluntary turnover rate than any other job role.
There are several things you can do to improve employee retention. Offering better pay and benefits will help, as will increasing career progression opportunities. But it’s also essential to support your agents in the work they do.
This article will explore seven strategies top contact centers are already using to make life easier for staff.
How to make life easier for call center agents
#1 Automate data entry
It’s safe to say that you don’t enjoy data entry. And your agents probably don’t either. In fact, most sales staff believe they spend too long on this type of task.
Automated processes can help you reduce the amount of data entry your team does.
You just need to set your system up to collect customer data and then automatically input it into the correct place. This information is then shared with all integrated platforms.
No-code automation makes it easy to set up these processes using pre-built ‘lego-block’ services that users can clip together. (Without writing code – that’s the important part!)
This is exactly what equipment manufacturer Expondo did.
The company implemented systems that create logs whenever a customer calls. They now get full visibility into every customer contact, without burdening agents with time-consuming admin.
#2 Encourage agent collaboration
Many studies have found that collaboration can improve workplace happiness. So offering opportunities for collaboration at your call center should improve employee retention.
With this in mind, T-Mobile implemented several ideas aimed at improving the way its contact center employees work together.
- Created support teams made up of agents, managers, coaches, and tech specialists. (Each group had to handle a specific number of customer accounts)
- Built shared workspaces designed to help reps collaborate openly
- Implemented an instant messaging platform that enabled in-call collaboration
Turnover also improved dramatically, dropping from 42% annually to just 22%. This was a record low figure for the company.
#3 Automate data retrieval
You can help agents give personal service by using automated data retrieval to provide them with relevant customer information before they pick up the phone.
The way it works is simple. You just need to connect your CRM with your contact center software.
Then, when an existing customer calls your business, your software checks the phone number against entries in your CRM.
If it finds a match, the system automatically brings up the customer’s entry and shows it to the agent.
This helps them:
- Greet the customer by name
- See account information to provide the most relevant help
- See information about past interactions with your team: the customer no longer has to repeat their problems
It’s important because nine out of 10 callers value when agents know their account history and issues.
#4 Use conversational AI
We often use Delta Air Lines as an example of a company making great use of contact center tech.
But that’s only because its results are so impressive: the company’s contact center improvements see it save $5 million every year.
Conversational IVR was a central part of the company’s contact center improvements.
The company increased call containment by 5% and increased the capture of caller intent by an incredible 75%.
But this isn’t the only way that NLU can help contact centers. You can also use it to:
- Help your agents spot sales and upsell opportunities.
- Prompt them to update customer data being discussed in a call.
- Use a voice-recognition system to automate basic customer queries.
Find out more about how NLU can benefit your contact center in this article.
#5 Help call center agents authenticate callers
Contact centers must be able to authenticate customers. It’s especially important if you deal with sensitive topics like finance or healthcare.
But authentication is time-consuming. It’s a frustrating process for both callers and agents. The time it takes costs your business.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
A leading medical supplier used conversational IVR to gather the information required for authentication before the caller reached the agent.
This halved the time agents spent on authentication from 3 minutes to just 90 seconds. The time saving allows them to spend less time on frustrating interactions and more time solving real customer problems.
#6 Offer proactive support
Dealing with many calls is a challenge for customer service teams. Reducing call volume makes life easier.
Proactive service is one way to reduce call volume. It’s effective because it helps your agents solve customer issues before they occur.
The key to this is discovering common customer challenges and finding ways for agents to solve these problems in advance.
Bell Canada managed to do this. The company first used data to determine why customers call back. It then identified ways that agents could proactively provide support.
One example is that the company found that when customers ordered a particular feature, they would often call back to ask for help using it.
The solution was simple.
Whenever agents answered a call ordering the feature in question, they also told the customer how to use it.
This resulted in a 16% reduction in calls per event and a 6% decrease in churn.
#7 Consider remote work
Virtual contact centers have been growing in prominence as technology makes running them easier. The Coronavirus pandemic accelerated this trend.
As well as cost savings associated with not having an office, remote work can have a huge impact on agent retention.
Take doll business My Twinn.
After switching to home-based agents they reduced agent turnover by 88%. And this is a typical result!
Virtual contact centers have an average retention rate of 80%, compared to just 25% in on-site centers.
Want to help your agents? Automation is key
You’ll have noticed that many of the tips in this list involve automation.
Automation makes life easier for contact centers by reducing an agent’s workload and providing them with data for the tasks they do have to do.