How to Keep Your Best Contact Center Agents From Leaving

Call center turnover rates are legendary. A web search will surface a range from 30–45% on average, to more than 100% per year, depending on the industry. With “The great resignation” looming over employers everywhere — 4 million workers in the US alone quit their jobs in July 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics — customer experience (CX) leaders have good reason to lose sleep.

Instead of pacing in their pajamas, contact center leaders can use their agents’ values to build a plan to increase engagement and motivation while improving retention.

Human values underpin all our behaviors and decisions. CX leaders who understand what their agents value have a unique and powerful view into what drives and motivates them. This will enable those managers to create highly differentiated engagement plans.

Values-Focused Engagement

Globally, the highest-performing customer-facing contact center employees value personal responsibility above all else, according to recent findings from the new Genesys report “Human values: The operating system for a high-performing contact center.” This is striking because personal responsibility isn’t so highly valued in the general population.

These top performers thrive on getting things done, enjoy autonomy and like daily achievements. They also appreciate opportunities for advancement and enjoy learning new skills. Using that insight alone, a manager could create an environment that provides a team with notable rewards for productivity, varied growth opportunities, and myriad skills and technology training options unique to their organization — building retention as a result.

High Performers Versus All Other Performers

A closer look at the report’s data shows how CX leaders can better understand top-performing contact center employees by role, in their regions and in their companies. Unlike their contact center peers, salespeople highly value positive environments (a lack of negativity), while customer service agents value dependability. Tech support agents value social standing and ambition. A manager who leads a team of tech support agents could use this insight to develop a distinctive plan that spotlights agents’ accomplishments, including gamification to provide that social standing by showcasing progress and performance.

High-performing contact center employees in each of the nine global regions included in the report also have an overall values profile. In Latin America, for example, employees value relationships, belonging, basic needs and personal responsibility most of all.

Within each region, there are employees whose values cluster together, presenting certain shared characteristics. These segments, or archetypes, provide deeper and more actionable insights into their motivations. Savers, for example, focus on making money and keeping track of it; they like to make financial progress and avoid taking on debt. Another archetype, loyalists, live their lives on the principle of loyalty that has been earned or achieved.

Certain values-based drivers shape the expression of these archetypes. Contact center employees who are life-driven are highly motivated around improving some aspect of their lives. Those who are relationship-driven are driven to benefit the collective. They want everyone they care about to be successful.

A Practical Application of Values-based Engagement

Let’s take a closer look at how a CX leader in North America might invigorate their top performers whose motivation has been lagging. Their first step is to determine which segment of those top performers to focus on: life-driven savers, for example.

Next, a manager should understand why employees do the things they do. In this example, life-driven savers are the focus. They’re motivated by excelling in life and are borderline “workaholics” who like to save money. They enjoy learning new skills and technologies and believe that “working hard now leads to a better future for us all.” They highly value relationships and belonging, health and well-being, personal growth and social standing, personal responsibility and balance.

Focusing on the values that make the most sense within that contact center environment or for the specific goal — say, personal growth, social standing, personal relationship and belonging — the manager must decide how to best engage that cohort. Because they like learning new skills and new technologies, one plan could be to launch a program that gives these life-driven savers additional certification through courses on emerging technologies that can add value in the contact center.

Finding ways to celebrate and communicate their completion of the program would increase their sense of social standing. And creating opportunities for them to work with colleagues from other departments would build their relationships and contribute toward their personal growth.

The manager could also use gamification for daily motivation. This would relate to their sense of personal responsibility and need for achievement. Giving and receiving badges or rewards builds a sense of community and belonging with their colleagues.

Contact center workers are looking for more support from their managers — no matter their geographic region. Managers who understand their values are best positioned to provide it.

From 2020 to 2030, in the US alone, about 361,700 openings for customer service representatives are projected each year, on average — mostly replacing employees who leave. Wherever you’re located, having a retention plan built around your agents’ values will help you keep your top performers — and keep them engaged.

Get the toolkit to create your own values-based engagement plan.