One of the defining workplace themes of 2021 was the Great Resignation. Employees started leaving their jobs at record rates, with 4.3 million people quitting in September 2021 alone. Shortly after, many employers began forecasting a focus on retaining talent, the likes of which had never been seen before in the corporate world.
In 2022, we faced a new phenomena called quiet quitting which discussed lack of motivation, and unfortunately, many leaders couldn’t meet cost of living crisis and mental health needs of their employees. However, as the power dynamic between employee and employer shifted, companies quickly realised the need to change their strategies, even if they are yet to execute them.
How bad is the current customer support agent turnover rate?
In the world of customer service, the Great Resignation is nothing new. Agent turnover rates consistently hover between 30% and 45% globally, and the average tenure for entry-level agents is only around a year.
In this context, it’s also important to recognise the disproportionate impact on women during the pandemic. One in four women has considered leaving the workforce in 2021. The reasoning often given is that they felt more exhausted, more under pressure, and more burnt out than men.
Across the board, we’re facing clear retention issues.
How can we address the perennial problem our industry has faced since its inception? For me, we must capitalise on the shifting momentum in the corporate world and mirror their focus on the employee experience.
To fully understand the issues facing the world of CX and the steps managers must take to drive the Great Retention, it’s important to first understand the agents’ frustrations of the moment.
A day in the life of a customer support agent
Following our recent research at Dixa, which assessed 1500 agents across both the US and UK, it quickly became clear that agents aren’t being set up for success. Therefore, the employee experience is broken.
Here are some highlights that demonstrate the disconnect between employer and employee:
- 59% of agents lack the knowledge to provide better service.
- 72% said they wish it was easier to access customer information on the customer service tools.
- 79% feel that their workload is too heavy; this means that they have too much to do in too little time. Basic tasks can range from investigating and supporting customer complaints, maintaining databases of customer information and escalating inquiries to the appropriate people.
- 75% feel a constant pressure to work faster.
It’s no secret that there’s a direct link between agent experience and customer experience. Despite this, everything points to a clear disconnect that needs to be addressed urgently.
The question on the minds of many will be how to achieve this quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Let’s look at 3 key steps that managers should be taking to start driving retention and decrease customer support agent turnover rate.
Step 1: Create psychologically safe workplace
The question of what stands in the way of employees feeling more connected and satisfied at work has been a fundamental consideration for years. People want to work for a company in which they feel part of a wider mission or purpose. It’s a critical component of any growth strategy.
Another component is a healthy and empathetic workplace climate that prioritises well-being. This means that managers need to create a space for psychological safety by frequently checking in with agents and actioning any feedback to build trust.
Execute step one successfully, and agents will begin to view customer service as a long-term career option, and one in which they will be fully engaged in.
Step 2: Combine data with human insights
Across nearly every sector, data is having a transformational effect on business operations. In many cases, it’s separating new leaders from also-rans, and the world of customer service is no different.
Firstly, companies should employ technology such as AI to extract more advanced insights from unstructured conversation data. Such as the AI taking on and answering simple queries opening up the employees to have time to handle more complex tasks and customer’s concerns. This in turn can inform necessary changes to employee training or organisational strategy.
This goes for both agents and customers, in terms of the contextual data around the interaction. Such as who the agents and customers were, the date and time of the inquiry, as well as the history of the interaction. Taken together this data set offers a comprehensive view – one that’s essential in the omnichannel environment.
Step 3: Reinforce positive workplace culture
One of the key pillars of the dynamic, flexible, and agile customer service team in 2022 will be knowing how to act on their data and usher in a new culture of continual improvement.
Employee feedback should always be prized as one of the most valuable insights on offer to service managers today. It should be used to constantly inform the fluid process of professional development and advancement.
And if employee data is king in the drive for Great Retention, then customer data is a close second.
For example, conversion analytics could be leveraged to assess what drives successful customer interactions. Managers can quickly react by providing the necessary training courses, coaching each agent until they master this crucial strategy. Agents who apply this should be rewarded by managers and will take this new skill into their following interactions, which as a result will become easier.
Personalized coaching also goes a long way to improving retention and helps employees understand how they might reach the next stage in their careers. Positively reinforcing a strong performance can also help generate confidence and self-esteem among remote teams.
Rather than focussing on surface-level requests, managers need to revitalize their workplace cultures with a renewed focus on the employee experience and a commitment to continuous change and importance.
On how not to lose your talents
It’s clear that employee satisfaction has become a key area of concern, and as customer service teams and managers plan their strategy for the coming year, it’s imperative they respond by taking immediate and actionable steps.
In some cases, this may require a reassessment of the tools they need, while in others a concentration on the human capital and data insights. Put the agents at the centre of your business and empower them to deliver the experience your customers’ desire.