Answering the Call: Engaging Your Call Center Reps

Ariana Walicke
Ariana Walicke

call center reps with headsets

Call centers: They’re the main point—sometimes the only point—of contact for your customers. That means your call center reps are your front line in the battle for reassuring customer service. You know, those often-ignored people who toil day and night to help your customers solve their problems so you retain their business.

As Jay McBain states on the Forrester blog, these “retention partners,” work with customers to ensure product/service understanding, adoption and training while also focusing on overall customer satisfaction. They also lead upselling and cross-selling opportunities, specifically recommending additional tools and resources.

From a marketing perspective, channel marketers must work with these partners and provide content, tools and resources that assist in customer retention efforts while reinforcing the brand value proposition and additional solutions that benefit customers.

We’ve all heard how a bad impression can be made in seconds. Just like with an individual, a bad experience with a call center rep within seconds or minutes can form a lasting bad impression of your company—your brand.

Unfortunately, many companies treat call center reps as replaceable cogs in a system. When one leaves, bring in another and move on. And that hurts your brand. You could have the best product or service your customers need and value, but the minute they interact with someone at your call center who is ill-trained, feels underpaid, perhaps undervalued, or stuck in an environment that isn’t fun or rewarding, it’s a reflection on you.

So, let’s start there. How do you motivate, engage, reward and retain your call center reps so they in turn enjoy their work, embrace a positive company culture and provide excellent care to your customers?

Engage Your Call Center Reps

With call centers, your competition isn’t simply similar products or services, it’s also other call centers as well. Why should an employee choose to work for your call center, perform well and stay? It’s a tough gig—here are ideas you can use to engage your call center reps:

  • Improve retention through tactics that ignite passion.
  • Engage employees with core values through events and activities.
  • Celebrate successes through recognition and rewards.
  • Emphasize team building with a supportive, positive work environment.
  • Cultivate flexibility and creativity that inspires a service-focused mindset.
  • Empower employees through improved onboarding and recruitment.
  • Promote consistency through a unified approach to customer service.

Replacing employees is expensive. These costs include the services and time spent on recruiting and hiring, time and materials to train new employees, and the dip in productivity due to the initial vacancy and the extended learning period of the new hire. And with the high turnover rates of call centers, the costs to replace employees can add up quickly—typically around $5,000–$7,500 to hire and onboard new employees.

In addition to the monetary input required to recruit, hire and train new employees, turnover also has a variety of other negative impacts on productivity, culture and service quality.

Loss of knowledge and expertise of experienced call center staff can impact the quality of service provided, and in some cases limit business opportunities. Similarly, and with the same effect, poor employee retention has a negative influence on the overall perception of a company both internally and externally.

What happens if you don’t do the above? Check out the stats below.  

As companies face organizational restructuring, strategic transformation, and mergers or acquisitions, they encounter a common thread: employee disengagement. According to a recent Center for American Progress study, the costs associated with replacing employees is significant:

16% | Percentage of annual salary for high-turnover, low-paying jobs (earning under $30,000 a year). The cost to replace a $10/hour retail employee would be $3,328.

20% | Percentage of annual salary for mid-range positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year). The cost to replace an employee who makes $40,000 would be around $8,000.

213% | Percentage of annual salary for highly educated and experienced positions. For example, the cost to replace a $100,000 employee is $213,000.

Engagement matters for all employees, but particularly in the call center. It’s this department where pay is often the lowest, and employees can find themselves far removed from the company’s focus. Start engaging (and measuring that employee engagement) with your call center reps—your front line—and in turn you will see a positive impact with your customers, company, and community. Find out how you can successfully navigate organizational change by developing a resilient culture with our ebook, How to Build a Resilient Organizational Culture.

Want more call center insights? Dive into the six engagement strategies that help improve your call center culture we mentioned above—your customers will thank you. 

Ariana Walicke

Ariana Walicke

Ariana has been in the performance improvement industry for nearly 15 years. She thrives on creating and delivering solutions for global clients that help them achieve their corporate initiatives, produce measurable results, and engage the people who impact their success (including employees, channel partners and customers). Never one to subscribe to one-size-fits-all, Ariana is passionate about finding the right strategic blend of products and services within recognition, incentives and events to fit each organization’s unique needs. She is also a fan of Orange Theory, hot yoga, traveling, spa time, and being with family and friends where she resides in Arizona. And, yes, we see the irony of her enjoyment for hot yoga while living in triple digit temps in Arizona.