Call centre techniques to stop the flow of agents leaving

Jul 12
call centre techniques

Call centre techniques to stop the flow of agents leaving

How many call centre techniques do you have up your sleeve to stop your valuable agents from bowing out, seeking retirement, vacating the premises, kicking the old work bucket or jumping ship from their outbound job?

Staff attrition is a huge financial drain to any call centre and every manager knows it has a huge impact on the morale and fluidity of a team. Every agent injects something unique into a team, and when they are gone it’s always noticed. One or two leaving isn’t so hard to pick up from and keep the team moving, but when it goes from a trickle to a stream, then some serious rethinking needs to happen to stop the ship from sinking.

Save from paintball sessions, Myer Briggs team days, one-on-one mentoring sessions that never happen…here are some call centre techniques to help you set sail in the right direction.

Choose your agents wisely

Hiring right the first time would be nice. But really, what does that actually take? On paper and even in first interview, everything may seem great. You’ve already swapped stories on your favourite Game of Thrones scene and love for Japanese anime. Things are going well. Your candidate is friendly, switched on, easy to talk to, loves sales (apparently), and on paper reads like a perfect candidate. Tick, tick, tick. So you hire them on the spot. And don’t get me wrong, first impressions are all very important – bum bags and man buns can tell you a lot about a person – but have you tested, really tested, how they will perform once dropped into an outbound call wilderness? This will tell you more about what value they can really bring to you team.

To find out how they really perform, put them through a series of role-playing scenarios with different test campaigns and customer types. What you want to see is not only how well they can engage with customers, but also how quickly they can think on their feet, be flexible with a calling script, engage with a lead, and have the innate instinct to go in for the kill. Many conversions have been lost through the inability to close a sale and this, if anything, is a subtle trait you want to see in all your outbound agents.

So make sure that with your call centre techniques for hiring, you throw in a few curve balls. Test them out; throw them in the deep end and watch who gets the most creative. And most importantly, don’t feel rushed to hire on the spot simply to fill a busy roster, as in the long run you’ll waste more time having to re-hire someone better for the job.

Be the human face

What does that actually mean? Sure it sounds a little wanky and similar to a bank telling you that ‘they care’. But really, when it comes to call centre techniques, it’s something you need to keep in mind. And sadly a screensaver of your mug won’t do.

Agents spend most of their time on calls, flowing from one call to the next, and deriving much of their knowledge from powerful agent interfaces, screen pops and more. They know how to self manage, how to take an opportunity and run with it.

But what really drives them? A pay rise or bonus isn’t the only thing. Like any job, the most important aspect of what inspires and motivates agents to stay is the relationships they have, not only with their team, but also their managers and boss.

Yet for agents, being on the phone all the time can make this hard, and coupled with constant call rejection can leave them feeling detached and one step away from leaving. And pep talks aren’t enough to make them stay. So what call centre techniques can help?

This is where using cloud-based call centre software can step in and make the opposite come true. Agents can login from anywhere, manage their own queue activity, and see the stats on not only their own but their whole team’s performance. They can also receive more engaged, targeted and personalised help from their managers, who can live monitor, track progress and offer advice through live chat – even when they’re on a call.

And this kind of power – of full transparency and foresight – makes everyone feel stronger.

Use training to build confidence

Training? Boring! Worse than this? No training at all. Scary! And potentially disastrous for new agents just about to start.

While having no initial call centre training is unusual, what is common, however, is for training to be rushed, crammed into too few hours, over too few days, and with not enough ongoing training to help agents build the right sales stamina or muscle. And this will ultimately hurt sales conversions.

A poorly trained agent you will spot from a mile, almost sensing the clammy hands and aimless intent going on behind the dial. And for any impatient respondent this kind of weakness is the perfect excuse for a quick, easy hang up.

And for an agent, being on the receiving end of this bites, big time. And the more it happens, the more their confidence will start to bleed until survival mode kicks in and they start looking for the nearest door.

So train and train often. It’s the key component to keeping your agents happy, feeling in the loop and engaged. With a cloud-based phone system you can do this easily, letting agents login from anywhere at anytime and chip away at constant improvement. Investing in agent training will also show you’re invested in their future and want them to keep kicking their sales and personal goals.

Use call centre techniques to build team players

The perfect balance to strike in a call centre team is where agents can power ahead independently, making calls with the right client information at their fingertips, while also feeling part of a larger team that’s always there for support.

Powerful call centre software makes this possible. It gives agents freedom and flexibility through automated dialers that power-up their call rate, agents interfaces the offer instant customer information for every call, and the freedom to view, edit, change and save customer details straight to the cloud. All without having to rely on anyone else.

Agents can be working on their own call list, independently, while also feeling hooked into something bigger and more dynamic. A virtual place, where they can share ideas, offer praise, challenge each other through gamification, and feel connected to bigger campaign goals than their own.

And with this and your other call centre techniques, managing also become easier and more focussed on human outcomes; where you’re head of a team that not only feeds the beast of outbound sales but also feeds every agent’s soul to keep them coming back for more.

Want to also know how to keep costs down while make more sales? Download our free ebook 14 ways to make more call centre sales without spending more.

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Flickr CC: Jeremy Brooks