It’s no secret that when it comes to employee retention, customer support as an industry is near the bottom of the pack. Why? The stress and frustration of a customer-facing role coupled with the negligence of an outdated management team can lead to a heightened sense of job dissatisfaction.
With a multitude of studies proving the ongoing effect a high turnover rate can have on a company, now more than ever, it is important to ensure employee retention within your team.
Here is a 7-step guide to improving employee retention in your customer support team.
- Make passion & empathy the heart of your hiring process
- Improve your onboarding process
- Treat employees like humans
- Keep your team engaged with your company culture
- Promote a natural work-life balance
- Don’t forget rewards & incentives
- Enable two-way communication
1. Make passion & empathy the heart of your hiring process
Ensuring long-term retention amongst your support team starts with your hiring process. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a candidate with a great deal of experience.
In research conducted by Harvard University, 85% of job success came from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success came from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
What isn’t taken into account here is the power of a candidate’s passion for the product/service your team is working with. There is an undeniable correlation between an employee’s passion for their work and sustained long-term performance.
So as you interview candidates, pay close attention to their enthusiasm and empathy. It’s simple to train an employee on hard skills. But when it comes to inherent passion and empathy, training is much more difficult.
2. Improve your onboarding process
Once you’ve hired the correct candidate, the next step is to execute a well-designed onboarding process. This program should educate entry-level employees not only on the operations of the job but also on the company’s vision, culture, and values and how they are contributing to these.
The more aligned your employee training process is with your company culture, the more confident in their job and more willing to stay an employee will be. Whilst this may sound simple, studies show that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees.
So when onboarding, make sure your approach is efficient, empowering, and aligned with company goals.
But this is not to say that the employee training process stops when the onboarding process does. On the contrary, performance coaching should be a continuous process where your agents get guidance on what they need to improve and how they can do it. In the long term, this performance coaching will make it easy for them to see a future at the company, give them a sense of belonging, and, by extension, increase the likelihood of their staying at the company for quite a while.
3. Treat employees like humans
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. A common theme that many customer service employees feel is lacking in their workplace. Being proven that employees who don’t feel respected at work are 34% more likely to leave their companies within the next year.
Hence, establishing strong, authentic relationships with your employees in which they feel highly valued is of the utmost importance.
Making it clear that you understand your employees’ daily impact can be achieved in a number of ways. Whether it be spending time on 1:1 meetings, creating a board to show potential for career advancement, or a simple “Good job :)” on Slack, it goes a long way.
So once your team members are on board be sure to nurture their progress and let them know their work is appreciated.
4. Keep your team engaged with your company culture
When it comes to ideas for employee retention, keeping your team engaged is arguably one of the most important strategies. How do you do that? By creating a company culture that makes employees feel welcomed, valued, and motivated.
A positive work environment is conducive to better performance, job engagement, and as a result, improved employee retention.
Whilst there is a definite shift, led by startups, in the right direction for company culture, it remains a retention issue.
According to a survey of 2,000 employees, 43% said they were looking for a new job, listing company culture as the reason.
So when you’re establishing your employees’ work environment, be sure to make it engaging and true to your company values.
5. Promote a natural work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is an essential ingredient in keeping your employees around. You can’t expect your team to be happy if they are overworked or feel that their personal lives are being neglected.
In fact, a study conducted by Kronos found that 95% of HR leaders agree that employee burnouts are directly affecting workforce retention.
This is especially true in customer service whereby long hours, night shifts and remote work can take a large toll on an employee’s motivation.
So make sure to offer flexible work hours, appropriate vacations, and communicate to your team that you promote a healthy work-life balance.
6. Don’t forget rewards & incentives
Perhaps the most common answer to lowering employee turnover is the implementation of a rewards system. However, this doesn’t simply refer to traditional monetary incentives.
There has been a shift within customer support, towards more personalized, non-monetary reward styles. Perhaps a remote workday, a personalized gift, or a free day of leave.
A survey conducted amongst SMEs found that 90% of employees who receive a performance-based reward felt that they were truly valued. It is undeniable that incentivizing work is a strong catalyst for higher employee morale.
However, when you implement rewards be certain to avoid unhealthy competition between employees and go the extra mile to personalize each incentive.
7. Enable two-way communication
Enabling a two-way connection between employees and management is the best way to understand where you need to improve to increase employee retention. Who knows what your employees want better than your employees?
Research shows that employees with high engagement levels are 87% less likely to leave a company than their disengaged peers. The key here is to ensure that your team is not only communicating with customers or one another. Otherwise, this establishes a ‘you vs them complex’.
To avoid this, open up communication channels that allow employees to openly or anonymously have their feedback heard and acted upon.
So when it comes to communication, make sure employees feel safe and heard. Your retention rate will thank you for it.