How to Build a Best-in-Class Employee Experience in the Contact Center

Developing a best-in-class employee experience should be a priority for contact center leaders. Highly engaged employees can set a company apart from the competition. Building a positive environment depends on leaders encouraging and rewarding employees while helping them reach their professional goals. This article explores how leaders can create an unparalleled environment for contact center employees.

Understanding why employees leave a contact center

There are several reasons why employees may leave a contact center:

  • Employees often leave due to their direct manager or leadership; people leave people. An employee’s manager and contact center leadership set the tone for the work environment.
  • There may be a mismatch in job fit, where the job the employee expected differs from the role they ended up in.
  • An employee might leave for personal reasons unrelated to the organization, such as deciding to pursue a career change.
  • There are now more choices for employees. They may be motivated to leave for new opportunities, such as a chance for promotion or better compensation.

Understanding why employees leave a contact center enables contact center leaders to address the causes of attrition and develop strategies for retention.

Why employee engagement is more challenging in a contact center

Working in a contact center is different from many other roles due to the highly structured nature of the job. Frontline employees typically have less freedom compared to other positions. For example, they have scheduled breaks and lunches and may work shifts outside regular business hours. Additionally, they are bound by several key performance indicators (KPIs) that can feel restrictive, such as average handle time, a target timeframe to speak with a customer. Boredom can set in from handling the same inquiries repeatedly.

Furthermore, there is significant pressure on team members to perform because they represent the brand to many customers. As a result, frontline employees are always expected to be at their best. When things go wrong, the contact center is typically the first point of contact. Coping with this pressure requires high energy, effective stress management, and a supportive team.

How the pandemic impacted employee experience

In addition to the typical challenges of working in a contact center, frontline employees faced increased stress and workload due to the sudden transition to working from home during the pandemic. Consequently, the pandemic has profoundly impacted attrition within contact centers.

Working from home means some team members may experience isolation, negatively impacting employee morale. While remote work has allowed for greater flexibility and convenience, it has also led to blurred boundaries between work and personal life. In addition, remote work can result in interruptions and distractions that can negatively impact productivity, especially when multiplied across a large workforce.

Recruitment was also affected, with companies needing to re-evaluate their approach to attracting the best talent in an increasingly competitive job market. Creating the right candidate experience is crucial. The candidate experience includes everything from how the company writes job postings and conducts interviews to the onboarding process. In addition, many companies are turning to innovative technologies, such as AI, to streamline these processes and accelerate time-to-hire.

When hiring for the contact center, it is important to give potential candidates a clear understanding of the work environment and the role. This clarity can help prevent surprises and ensure a smoother transition when employees come on board. However, despite efforts to be descriptive and transparent, there is no comparison to the experience of being in the role.

Tips for attracting and retaining employees

Job seekers often look for the following in their new employers, especially when they look for roles in contact centers.

1.      An environment conducive to work-life balance

Employees are looking for flexibility. Work-life balance is crucial for many employees in today’s fast-paced world. However, achieving this balance is difficult, especially for larger contact centers. Companies must consider how they schedule their employees to achieve this balance, such as by creating rotational schedules. Scheduling teams must create a workforce management framework that meets call-handling coverage requirements and enables employee engagement. By balancing client satisfaction and employee well-being, companies can foster a positive and productive work environment.

2.      A meaningful employee journey starts with the recruitment process

An engaging recruitment and onboarding process is vital to a company’s success because it sets the tone for an employee’s experience at a company. The recruitment experience starts from the moment a candidate considers working somewhere until they are hired. Therefore, employers must create a seamless and positive recruitment experience that reflects their company culture and integrates with the employee journey.

A key differentiator is to connect with candidates meaningfully. This first impression goes a long way when a quality candidate decides between multiple job offers. In addition, proactive and timely follow-up by the recruiter is essential; this is often where the process breaks down and subsequently leaves the onus on the candidate to drive communication.

3.      Recognition for achieving milestones and accomplishments

Recognizing milestones and accomplishments is essential to making an employee feel valued. Employers must balance personal and professional milestones while ensuring employees feel engaged and purposeful.

Companies can create an environment that fosters growth, productivity, and loyalty by offering employees these key elements. Understanding why an employee leaves the contact center helps inform decisions on how to keep employees engaged, motivated, and empowered. The physical environment and external conditions like the pandemic can directly affect attrition rates for contact centers. However, several strategies exist to limit attrition, create a culture of openness and collaboration, and keep employees focused on their growth and development.

By ensuring your contact center has measures to help create a supportive work environment, you will achieve greater employee loyalty and lower your attrition risk. Attrition is highly disruptive and costly; each employee lost prematurely leaves with valued knowledge and experience, which directly and immediately impacts the customer and remaining employees. Furthermore, it often takes six months before a newly hired employee is proficient.

To learn more about employee retention strategies, watch our webinar, where our experts share tips for improving the employee experience in the contact center.

About the author

Eli Federman

Eli Federman

Practice Leader, Omnichannel & Contact Centers

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