Halloween Horrors: Monsters that Cause Call Center Attrition
The nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air. Ancient folk memories of evil spirits start to surface. Magic and mischief reign. It’s Halloween.
As you get into the spirit of the occasion, spare a thought for the humble contact center agent, huddled over his keyboard, staring into the abyss of another long shift of customer service hell. No trick or treating. No jack-o’-lanterns. Just an endless procession of ghouls conspiring to make him miserable and convince him to quit. Let’s meet these malevolent monsters and get to grips with the thorny issue of call center attrition.
The Frankenstein system
Cobbled together from countless pieces of archaic software, the Frankenstein contact center system is the bane of the agent’s life. Bad desktop tools rank highest on the list of contact center challenges and it’s no wonder that service reps hate having to handle their own technical issues when they should be helping customers with theirs.
They occupy their waking hours, haunt their dreams and possess the innermost reaches of their souls. Time-based KPIs like Average Handling Time remain relevant but when contact center managers obsess over them, it piles on the pain for agents. The incessant drive to deal with calls faster isn’t only an unbearable burden for countless customer service reps – it’s bad business. That call might have been closed quickly, but the customer – and their issue – could be back very soon.
The lonesome mummy
Humans are social creatures. Cocooned in tombs of desk dividers, forbidden to speak to one another and bound up tight with rules and protocols, anyone might go a little crazy. That’s why new approaches like team-based KPIs and technologies such as collaboration tools are the key to higher productivity, better results and happier frontline staff.
The ghost in the machine
Picking up a call only to find there’s nobody at the other end isn’t only frustrating – it’s deeply disturbing. Ghost calls plague contact centers of all sizes, driving agents to distraction. How soon should they hang up? Will this count against their personal KPIs? Because calls often have to pass through multiple systems, on both the front and back ends, it’s a notoriously tricky problem to address.
The zombie script
Nothing saps the spirit and drains the will to live more than repeating the same lines again and again. That’s why new tools are vital if managers want to keep their talent and cut call center turnover. For example, if agents are given the power to see a customer’s issue, it’s instantly a different kind of interaction. There’s no need to stumble through longs lists of diagnostic questions. Instead, a live video session becomes the basis for a natural call between two human beings, working together to resolve a problem. It’s a no-brainer.
How to slay the contact center monsters
Contact center managers are always on the lookout for the silver bullets and wooden stakes that can defeat the eternal enemies of the agent. The good news is that new tech and fresh thinking are now driving fundamental transformation right across the customer service realm. But it’s still vital to remember the old-fashioned ways to turn the downtrodden agent into a real hero.
Daniel Pink, NY Times Bestselling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, states that the keys to motivation, particularly for more complex tasks, lie in providing a sense of autonomy, a path to mastering useful skills and a true sense of purpose – doing what we do in the service of a greater cause.
Managers should therefore constantly ask their agents for input. At the end of the day, an engaged rep knows the company’s customers better than anyone else and being consulted makes anyone feel valued. They must recognize and reward achievement, both privately and publicly. And above all, they need to motivate their people. Contact center agents can and do progress their careers within their organizations. Winning their long-term loyalty means their passion will translate into superior service and better results.
So, wherever you end up tonight, wrap up warm, stay safe and remember that the secret of defeating agent attrition is to face your fear and stare those monsters straight in the eyes. Happy Halloween.