Reminder: 5 ways to improve frontline employee engagement

We recently stumbled upon this article which summarizes findings from a recent contact center survey conducted by Hammer. It surveyed 1000 contact centers across UK, US and AUS, and surfaced some pretty damning insights regarding employee engagement on the frontline;

  • 65% of contact centers have seen an increase in agent attrition over the last year

  • 67% of employees working in UK contact centers admitted that their mental health has been impacted over the past year.

  • 72% of employees in the contact center say that they're burnt out, or will be imminently.

As such, it's more important than ever to be finding ways to keep frontline staff engaged. Due to resource shortages, their skillset is in high demand and it is therefore extremely important to differentiate your organisation from the next one.

Below are 5 quick tips to improve frontline employee engagement;

1. Educate the front line

Share business goals and policy decisions with the front line. They will have a much better appreciation for why they are taking calls if they understand the driving factors behind the calls.

For example, it is very common for Insurance companies to discount premiums in the first year which can often lead to bill shock at renewal period. If frontline agents are educated on the reason for this business model, they will be able to manage customer concerns in a more appropriate manner.

Note to everyone; front-line staff are the one's who interact with the customers who pay the bills on a daily basis. They should be equipped with as much information as possible!

2. Ensure KPIs drive positive customer outcomes

Often, frontline agents are measured on how productive they can be at work. Common KPIs that they need to achieve relate to adherence (timeliness of taking breaks) as well as AHT (Average Handling Time).

The above mentioned metrics often drive incorrect behaviours, as agents are focused on being as efficient / timely as possible. Often, it can lead to agents becoming blunt with customers, and at it's worst, we've observed front-line agents hang up on customers just to achieve their AHT targets.

Whilst we fully appreciate that there is a need to drive operational efficiencies within a contact center environment, our recommendation would be to focus on customer-driven KPIs including CSAT, NPS & First Call Resolution (FCR). If agent's are allowed to stay on the first call as long as they need, it's highly likely that the same customer won't need to call back at a later time. Demonstrate care to customers upfront and your business will reap the rewards in the long run.

3. Provide regular reporting & insights

Once the right KPIs have been established, the next focus should be on providing visibility of performance to frontline agents.

Ensure frontline agents are clear on the metrics that matter, as well as the targets that they need to achieve. Reporting should be provided on a regular frequency and frontline agents should be able to proactively access this data (via a dashboard / portal) whenever they please. This data should not only demonstrate the quantitative results, but also the "why" behind them via supporting commentary.

Allowing frontline employees to keep a finger on the pulse of critical KPIs will likely breed a sense of healthy competition amongst peers and will also highlight areas of opportunity moving forward.

4. Reward strong performance

Let the frontline know that they can make a difference and that their contributions are valued. Rewards don't necessarily need to be monetary in nature either. It could be as simple as identifying positive commentary that customers have left about certain employees, or publicly praising an employee for an issue that they handled effectively.

Never has there been a time where we've had an employee complain that they're receiving too much positive feedback. Frontline managers are generally dealing with negative customers regularly; it should be your job to cheer them up from time to time!

5. Create a channel for feedback & ideas

We're going to say it again. Frontline agents deal with customers every single day. As such, it's highly likely that they're a walking insights report. They know the customer (and business) pain points better than anyone else. But few organizations provide the facility to capture these pain points and ideas.

Employees will feel more engaged at work if they feel empowered. Creating a channel where employees can submit feedback & ideas (and seeing that this information is being acted on) will lead to a sense of fulfilment - it will ensure that they feel like they have a purpose at work.

Take it one step further if you can and include the frontline agents on the initiatives which stem from the ideas that they have submitted.

To conclude things, we fully appreciate that what we have written today IS NOT rocket science BUT we do think that frontline agents are often under-appreciated and ignored due to the type of function that they have within your business. We're hoping that this blog can stimulate some change for your business moving forward!


Ben the Bearded Man

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