Engagement Strategies to Improve Call Center Culture & Retention

By: ITA Group
happy call center employee
It’s no secret “The Great Resignation” is in full effect. According to ITA Group’s recent employee engagement study, 53% of employees surveyed are looking for a new job, and 43% don’t plan to be with their current employer within the next 12 months.
And call centers are already feeling the impact. In fact, the average number of live job openings in call, contact and customer care centers advertised on Ziprecruiter.com last year was more than double the average in 2020, reports WSJ. While turnover may be an issue in the months to come, keeping top talent isn’t a lost cause, even for call centers.

Improve Call Center Retention With Improved Onboarding & Recruitment

Success in a high-churn field like customer support is often reliant on an organization’s recruitment and onboarding process. Hiring profiles should consider not only candidate ability but also culture fit and experience with the specific behaviors core to the organization’s desired culture.
Current employees can be especially helpful at sourcing potential talent from their own networks since they already know your culture. To encourage this behavior, provide referral bonuses to employees who refer call center reps who stay for a certain amount of time. Employee referrals are an important way to show you’ll reward employees for identifying great new hires and contributing to the organization’s overall success.
Prior to a rep’s first day, provide information that boosts excitement about the new role and start to reward for desired behaviors immediately. Ensure leaders are prepared for formal training, but also think through what cultural onboarding looks like. A peer ambassador or buddy can be a great addition during this time, reducing the new hire’s hesitancy to ask questions about the culture.

Reinforce Call Center Culture by Nurturing Core Values

Your team’s behavior should align with your organization’s overall values and goals. If there’s a gap, think about what it means to live the brand’s core values in the call center and motivate team members to commit to those behaviors. Promote core values in various ways, including:
  • Recognition
  • Team-building events
  • Signage that keeps cultural messages top of mind
  • Ongoing trainings
  • Individual and team contests
Related: Not sure how to connect employees with your values? Read this client story to see what worked for them.
If low employee engagement comes from a lack of interest in daily tasks, gamification may be a uniquely effective way to re-engage call center employees. According to Zippia, 90% of employees say gamification makes them more productive at work, and companies that use gamification are seven times more profitable than those that do not use gamified elements at work. To put this into practice, consider how you might incorporate a variety of short- and long-term goals tied to training, job performance and customer service scores to spur feelings of competition and goal attainment.

Cultivate Flexibility & Creativity in a Service-Focused Mindset

Call center reps often feel isolated, especially post-pandemic as many are working from home. But the job can be stressful as well, making matters worse. According to a 2021 study by Calabrio, contact center agent turnover was primarily attributed to frequent occurrences of acute stress and feeling that businesses weren't doing enough to help. Little workplace interaction, combined with full call queues and rigid structures that limit the amount of power and decision-making, often creates negative engagement.
Call center reps should be encouraged to be creative in their everyday tasks. Rather than forcing them to “stick to the script,” empower them by promoting flexibility in how they assist customers. Enable them to complete their tasks with a personal touch, without compromising quality, to ultimately connect with and feel the impact of the customer service they’re providing.

Motivate Call Center Employees Through Recognition & Awards

Appreciation is often overlooked in the workplace due to busy schedules and competing priorities. Yet, it’s proven to matter on multiple levels. According to HBR, helping employees feel more valued and supported is important not just for those individual employees’ wellbeing, but also for the organization as a whole.
When call center reps live your organization’s core values, encourage supervisors and colleagues to break away from the busyness and recognize the desired behavior. Whether your reps are working out of a shared center or working from home, there are countless ways you can creatively put reps’ names in lights for all to see. These acts of recognition confirm an employee’s presence—and work—is valued by others. And it keeps employees motivated and engaged, elevating productivity.
Some successes you may want to recognize include:
  • Milestones to reward for hard work and commitment
  • Retention awards that recognize managers with the highest employee retention month-to-month
  • Anniversary awards (but be sure to start early on, prior to year one—you don’t have time to wait!)
Related: Looking for ideas to refresh your service award program? See what we recommend.
To really create an impact, offer call center reps the ability to earn awards they’ve always dreamed of, like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for going above and beyond. The psychological impact of experiential rewards drives better outcomes for businesses and a more meaningful, motivational experience for earners.

Invite Candid Feedback to Improve Call Center Employee Satisfaction

Intentionally seeking out real feedback from employees is the only way to make improvements and learn from missteps—and to ultimately enhance engagement and retention efforts. According to Gallup, “Routine feedback is better than none, but meaningful feedback—the kind that helps individuals learn, grow and do their jobs better—is how you improve productivity and performance.” When applied at a corporate level, members of Rolling Stone Culture Council emphasize such feedback should just be part of organizational culture, ultimately allowing the organization to learn, grow and do its job better.

ITA Group logo
ITA Group

ITA Group custom-crafts engagement solutions that motivate and inspire your people. ITA Group infuses strategies that fuel advocacy and drive business results for some of the world’s biggest brands.