Coaching is the Best Way to Reduce Agent Attrition

Contact center agent attrition, which ranges from 30% to over 100%, remains a top challenge. Managers have tried many things to reduce the attrition rate: They've implemented systems, put in suggestion boxes, performed employee satisfaction surveys, held agent appreciation days and more. But the attrition rate hasn't come down. (Many companies believe that millennials are to blame for high attrition rates, but this is not the case, as attrition has always been a major issue for contact centers.)

DMG has studied and analyzed the attrition issue at many contact centers and has found that the primary driver is lack of agent coaching and feedback. Other factors that contribute to the attrition rate include inflexible or "bad" schedules, low salaries and agents having a bad relationship with a supervisor.

What's clear is that companies can reduce agent attrition if they are willing and able to make a substantial investment in their employees. Here are some practices that will motivate supervisors to provide feedback on a timely basis:

  1. ​Require supervisors to provide feedback to each agent once per week – This sounds easy, but isn't, because supervisors are pulled in too many directions.  Supervisors must be given dedicated time and be held accountable for providing regular feedback to agents.
  2. Require supervisors to schedule feedback sessions – If sessions are not scheduled, other activities will continue to take priority.
  3. Reward supervisors for conducting agent feedback sessions – In too many contact centers, agent coaching is the easiest activity to skip, as there is no accountability and no rewards for performing this task.
  4. Train supervisors to coach – It's tough to coach employees. Training supervisors to give positive and constructive feedback can have an immediate impact and maximize the time they're already dedicating to performance improvement. One leading U.S. airline, for example, trained more than 300 contact center leaders to more effectively coach. These leaders, in turn, coached their teams, helping them hold more meaningful, impactful feedback sessions targeted at the behaviors that most effectively improved the customer experience.
  5. Involve supervisors in the quality assurance (QA) process – Provide supervisors with timely feedback regarding the performance of their staff and use a QA solution that enables them to listen to calls, review transactions directly with agents and provide coaching.
  6. Give supervisors timely data about their agents via performance management, surveying, interaction analytics and desktop analytics solutions – Make it easy for supervisors to gather the information they need about their employees so that they can share it with agents. Give them access to real-time and historical key performance indicators (KPIs) and reports.
  7. Encourage agents to self-monitor – Allow agents to review their calls and evaluations at their desktop; this is particularly important for sales environments. In practice, as the aforementioned airline leader found, this enables agents to self-improve. Instead of a top-down approach, the airline opened a conversation with agents about their performance. Each agent became responsible for his or her own performance, with specific areas for improvement that included accuracy; creating a connection and customer satisfaction; revenue performance; efficiency; and first call resolution. "I have seen first-hand how reps correcting themselves and coming up with their own action plans creates so much more commitment on their part," one reservations customer care manager said. ​​ 

Coaching is easy to overlook, given the many activities that supervisors have to juggle, but providing feedback to agents should be prioritized, as it will help to reduce attrition.​

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