Engagement among U.S. businesses reached an all-time low in July of 2021, with only about 36% of employees reporting being engaged in their work, according to Gallup. While churn has slowed since this record low, it figures to be a consistent factor moving forward as employees continue to seek out jobs that align to their own desires and sense of purpose.
HR managers have long recognized the link between employee engagement and reduced employee churn, but engagement has more recently come to the forefront as a key strategy to help create better employee experiences that actually attempt to minimize the disruptions created by churn.
The business case for reducing churn is clear—especially in the contact center. As the primary point of contact in many customer interactions, your contact center agents play a critical role in the all-up customer experience. As such, agent engagement must remain a focal point within your renewed employee strategies.
What is Agent Engagement?
Agent engagement is not the same as agent satisfaction. While these two things intersect, engagement goes far beyond satisfaction, tapping into the larger purpose an agent feels in their day-to-day work. It is still very important to measure agent satisfaction, but more must be done in the way of agent engagement strategies - which will elevate satisfaction, in turn.
To boost the type of agent engagement that contributes to better experiences you must look much deeper—identifying and articulating the purpose and meaning for these frontline employees. This requires more than choosing robust technology or designing stronger processes. It takes an organizational mindset focused on fueling the engagement of your agents with intangibles like:
- Job purpose and fulfillment
- Growth opportunities
- A voice in the organization
- Recognition for good work
Without strong employee engagement, your brand’s customer experience will never fully come to life. Avtex continues to advocate for better engagement and stronger employee experiences
Strong Cultures Promote Agent Engagement
Contact centers encounter more turnover than most other industries, averaging a rate of 30-45%. To combat this, businesses must develop a culture within their contact center that has the agent experience at the center. This will help to boost engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher loyalty and less turnover.
Most employers today are already focused on more obvious, rational components of engagement: the right wages, supportive technology tools, and more flexible work schedules. While these factors are important, what really fuels stronger engagement goes beyond the basics. You need to know if your contact center agents are engaged from an emotional standpoint, as well as a pragmatic one.
That means asking questions like:
- Do you feel appreciated and valued in your work?
- Do you have opportunities for continuous learning and upskilling?
- Are you supported by management?
- Do you have access to tools and processes that make your job easier?
Positive responses to these kinds of questions are markers of more fulfilled and engaged agents, which means higher satisfaction among you agents, as well as the customers they interact with.
Four Ways to Boost Agent Engagement
Here are four strategies you can implement right away, to drive agent engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty in your contact center:
1) Listen and learn.
Just as you need to personalize your customer experiences, every agent is different and desires a work experience that is personalized as much as possible. Listening to your agents as they describe their day-to-day work is important to better understand their current state of engagement vs. where you want them to be. Personalization can happen all the way down to the desktop level as you seek to accommodate each person’s unique skill set, along with the job they’re trying to do.
2) Think globally.
Agents are different based on their location, and understanding geographic differences is another important step in making their jobs better and easier. This means knowing your team’s challenges, environments, and cultural needs based on where they work and live. Hire local leaders when you can to increase “built-in” knowledge of these factors.
3) Provide workplace alternatives.
Part of personalizing your contact center agent experience is giving them the ability to work in a variety of ways. HBR reports that more than 90% of employers will have, or plan to support a hybrid work environment in 2022. But for many people, the need goes further than that as they want to choose from alternatives like full work-from-home (or in-office) options, contract arrangements, and others. According to O.C. Tanner, employees that have flexibility in how they work have a 41% higher likelihood of engagement.
4) Create better policies.
Company policies must be flexible to accommodate your contact center agents’ personal choices. This might mean creating new billing structures based on efficiency rather than hours or allowing “gig” arrangements where employees sign in and out based on their own schedules, rather than a company-wide work schedule. The key here is to create policies that balance the needs of your team with those of the business.
Avtex Helps Increase Agent Engagement for Stronger Agent Experiences
When your contact center agents are engaged, their day-to-day work experiences are more fulfilling and rewarding. That translates directly to better customer experiences, and a better bottom line for your company.
Avtex, a TTEC Digital company, has comprehensive knowledge, experience, and tools to help your organization design and orchestrate a powerful, high-value experience for agents across your enterprise. We have over 50 years of experience working with contact centers and agents, and we’ve been globally recognized for our own contact center which holds a CSAT Rating of 99+.