Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

Hiring, Coaching and Development, and Retention Strategies to Optimize Agent Performance

Strategic Contact has facilitated an annual survey on Credit Union Contact Center best practices for the last two years. This year, we are doing some “bite-sized” surveys to enable us to dive deeper into specific issues of interest to CU contact center leaders. Our first topic is near and dear to many: hiring, coaching, developing, and retaining good agents!

small-medium-contact-centerAs tasks grow increasingly complex, agents must be technically and financially astute while having excellent customer service (and maybe sales!) skills. Coaching and development is important but tough to prioritize with so many other demands. Well-trained and high performing agents can quickly move on to other jobs in the CU or elsewhere, impacting attrition and therefore costs and performance. Centers need to hire the right people, develop them effectively, and retain them when possible.

So we asked CU leaders: What are your best hiring sources? Do your agents get enough coaching and development to help them thrive? What strategies do you use to manage turnover? Here is what we learned from the 117 participants, most of whom are contact center executives, directors, or managers:

  • Customer Service experience still reigns supreme in hiring, in spite of increased focus on technical and financial skills. In addition, centers emphasize attitude and personality. Understanding you can’t have it all, the hope is that the other things can be taught.
  • The CU website and referrals are the top sources for hiring candidates. Indeed and other online job posting sites, as well as other parts of the CU such as branches, are also strong sources.
  • About half of centers surveyed fail to meet their coaching goals. The lack of time is the thorn in the side of the coaching goals – both supervisor time and time to take frontline staff off the phones.
  • Environment and culture are the key to retaining good staff. Pay ranked second among our survey participants, putting it in the “table stakes” category. The career path in the CU is a strong third.
  • Slicing the data by size reveals little variation in the results. The smallest centers see the supervisor playing a stronger role in retention and career path holding less weight. The bigger the center, the more career path across the CU influences agent retention. Unsurprisingly, larger centers also have lower agent tenure.

Click here to see this quarter’s survey results »