How to Recognize and Reward Contact Center Agents’ Outstanding Performance

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Employee recruitment and retention are challenging across many industries, and contact centers are among those struggling the most. With the growth of remote work and the stress of customer service, contact center leaders are increasingly realizing that recognizing call center agents for the important work they do isn’t just kind, but also a smart way to make sure your top agents stay with your organization. 

Let’s explore how contact center managers can:

  • Spot top-performing call center agent habits
  • Utilize technology to better understand their agents’ needs
  • Get creative in the ways they recognize the hard work of their team

Rising Challenges in Agent Recruitment and Retention

Staffing shortages plague many industries, and contact centers are no exception. We’re seeing some startling call center agent turnover statistics. Turnover in the call center industry as a whole ranges between 30-45%, according to Quality Assurance & Training Center, with some contact centers reporting turnover in the triple digits.

Why is it hard to recruit and retain call center agents?

  • Remote work opportunities. Over 80% of employees reported not wanting to return to an office environment (or indicated a desire to have a hybrid schedule), but many call centers are requiring agents to return to in-person work
  • High stress. Call center agent positions are considered high-stress work roles. Citing “too many calls” as the primary factor, 96% of call center agents report feeling acutely stressed at least one time each week, according to Replicant.
  • Psychological impact of unemployment. The psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic and large-scale unemployment had many unemployed workers reassessing their occupations. According to Pew Research, 66% are seriously considering changing their lines of work and 33% are already taking steps to do so. 

Best Habits of High-Performing Call Center Agents

Contact center managers want to support and reward their agents’ performance. But first, managers need to identify the habits of high performers and pull together a list of recognizable accomplishments. Take a look at the habits of high-performing call center agents:

Consistently setting and reviewing goals. The top contact center agents don’t need to sit down with their managers every time they set and review performance goals. When agents have access to autonomous coaching tools, they can set and review their own goals, and ensure they are staying on track and contributing to the rest of the company.

Effective communication. High-performing call center agents understand what is required for customer satisfaction. They often share the “how” and the “why” with the rest of the team.

Shared resources. When contact center teams have the tools to collect and centralize customer interaction data in one place, top call center agents can share data and resources with other teams, leading to consistent customer service

AI power. High-performing customer service teams are 2.2x more likely than underperformers to excel at implementing predictive intelligence, according to Salesforce. Top agents utilize the power of AI to enhance their agent performance, interpret customer intent, and better satisfy customer needs

How Contact Center Managers Can Support Employees

Contact center agent turnover creates internal instability for agents. This results in customer dissatisfaction rates with call escalations rising by 68%, 50% more difficult calls, and 34% longer hold times, according to FinancesOnline. The remaining agents are overworked, trying to make up for understaffing. Contact center managers need to create opportunities to support agents to keep them engaged in their work and retain high customer satisfaction.

Review agents more frequently

Research shows that employees want more opportunities to be reviewed and learn how they can improve in their roles. Take the time to:

  • Coach your agents
  • Review their performance
  • Praise their successes 
  • Offer actionable ways in which they can optimize their customer interactions

These steps will increase your contact center agents’ professional engagement and value to the team.

Offer autonomous learning opportunities

While one-on-one meetings and professional development can be beneficial, agents. Managers should consider offering autonomous learning opportunities. One example of this type of agent learning tool is Level AI’s Agent Assist™. With this option agents can:

  • Review their scores
  • Keep track of their most important metrics
  • See useful hints throughout customer conversations

Have the right technology in place

An effective contact center quality management solution can automate monotonous tasks and allow agents to prioritize the work they feel most valued doing. For example, the contact center quality management system from Level AI:

  • Uses natural language understanding (NLU) to uncover customer intent in real-time with twice the accuracy of outdated, keyword-based systems.
  • Analyzes, scores, and tags key moments in every agent conversation so that QA teams can easily find important moments from customer interactions.
  • Automatically picks out your most important conversations and tags them with color-coded labels that are easy for QA teams to identify.

5 Creative Ways Contact Center Managers Can Recognize Agents

Gift cards are nice. But with the challenging career market and difficulty retaining customer service agents, contact center managers need more creative and thoughtful ways to recognize and reward their agent performance. Consider these alternatives:

1. PTO  

Your employees work hard, so what better way to reward them than by giving them an extra day off? By allowing them time to refresh and recharge, your agents return to work feeling rested and valued as core members of the contact center team.

2. Personalized gifts

A general gift card is a good option on occasion, but employees want to know that they’re seen and understood. Something more personalized to their interests, such as coffee, movie gift cards, and show tickets, can show that extra attention that your agents will appreciate.

3. Meals

Consider rewarding more than one agent at a time. Celebrate the contact center team’s successes as a group to give them a morale boost, help foster camaraderie, and generate company appreciation.

4. Work Anniversary

Employees want to be recognized for the specific tasks they’re good at, but also for their loyalty to the company. Reward work anniversaries to celebrate the amount of time and loyalty they’ve dedicated to the company.

5. Varied Recognition

Many contact center agents have a specific area in which they excel, and this is typically the thing they’re recognized for. While this recognition is great, it’s important they also feel rewarded for the other areas of their work; be sure to change up the tasks that each team member is praised for.

Recognizing and rewarding your contact center’s best and brightest agents is key to retaining your top talent and ensuring that your business runs smoothly. To learn more about how to identify and acknowledge your call center agents with contact center AI, schedule a demo with the team at Level AI today.

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