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8 Tips to Motivate Call Center Agents

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As a call center manager, it can sometimes feel like your department has a revolving door. It’s not an illusion. A 2022 report from CRESTA found that the turnover rate in call centers is 1.3 times the average of other departments while Gallup research suggests that engagement is lowest among workers under 35 years old. This is bad news for call center managers, whose frontline agents are often young people who see their jobs as a stop-gap on their way to something better.

Read on to discover why so many call center agents are disengaged, and discover eight proven tips to motivate call center agents, increase engagement, and improve retention.

Why is engagement so low among call center agents?

As we’ve already mentioned, workers under age 35 tend to be less engaged than older workers – and today’s call center teams are largely made up of Gen Z and younger millennials. However, call center work comes with some inherent challenges:

  • Repetitive tasks
  • Low pay
  • No growth potential
  • Lack of recognition
  • Abusive calls
  • Excessive pressure/stress

Figuring out how to keep your call center agents engaged could pay big dividends. Gallup’s 2024 State of the Global Workplace report found that highly engaged teams in high-turnover organizations have 21 percent lower turnover and 78 percent lower absenteeism than their less-engaged counterparts.

8 Proven Tips to Motivate Call Center Agents

The following eight tips can help address the main demotivators in your call center, keeping your agents motivated in their jobs and likely to stay in their roles for longer.'

1. Set clear KPIs - and visualize them

Call center work can seem thankless with repetitive tasks, abusive calls, and no tangible goals or rewards. Setting individual and team KPIs around customer satisfaction metrics (e.g., CSAT, NPS) and efficiency-related targets (e.g., first contact resolution, time to resolution) gives agents something to work toward, which can help beat some of the monotony. Up the stakes by visualizing the team’s KPIs on TV dashboards so everyone can track their progress and celebrate their success when they reach a milestone.

2. Celebrate success

Setting KPIs without incentivizing them can come across as micro-managing. To keep your agents motivated and hitting their targets, keep recognizing their efforts and achievements. Whether it’s a spot reward for going above and beyond or a more methodical approach using tools like leaderboards, instant notifications, and contests, celebrating success has been shown to increase and sustain motivation – especially in high-turnover organizations like call centers.

3. Use gamification

Gamification is a reliable method for boosting motivation and retention in high-turnover departments like customer service, particularly among young employees who’ve grown up with gamification. Customer service agency LiveOps used gamification to address high turnover and low morale, resulting in a 23 percent improvement in call-handle time and a nine percent increase in customer satisfaction. Employees working in gamified environments are 89 percent happier and more engaged at work than those who aren’t working in gamified environments – and 69 percent say they’d stay with an employer for longer than three years if they offered gamification.

4. Invest in the latest technology

Today’s under-35s are digital natives who are comfortable with technology and expect it to make their lives and jobs easier. AI, in particular, is an exciting new technology that’s transforming customer service. Leaning into digital self-service tools to automate routine inquiries can help reduce the monotony of call center work and lessen the demands on agents, thereby reducing stress and keeping them engaged in more interesting tasks. Millennials and GenZ are used to glitch-free technology, so making them work with slow systems and poor usability is a surefire way to encourage them to have one foot out the door.

5. Create advancement opportunities – and variety

Call center work is commonly seen as a “dead-end job” or a stepping stone to something better. Call centers are often flat organizations with little room for advancement, but creating roles like “team leads” or providing opportunities for more variety can give call center agents something to strive for. If your department offers omnichannel support, you could motivate your agents by offering top performers the opportunity to work on more channels – and more interesting channels! For example, they could work their way up from the phones to interacting with customers on the company’s social media platforms.

6. Empower your reps to make decisions

According to industry research, a lack of empowerment is one of the main reasons call center agents resign. Empowering your frontline agents with the authority to make decisions can create feelings of ownership that will instill pride and motivate them to provide their best service. This can improve CSAT and resolution-related metrics by reducing the number of escalated issues – and in turn, time to resolution. As long as your agents are hitting their targets, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have autonomy over how they approach problem-solving.

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7. Accommodate working preferences

A recent survey showed that 63 percent of workers want remote work options and 78 percent want flexible work schedules. The youngest members of today’s workforce gained a significant portion of their work experience during the pandemic. Whether they were already employed or just starting out, they’re accustomed to the work/life balance that comes with the flexibility of remote work. Understandably, they don’t want to give that up. Customer service roles have a reputation for low pay, so if you can’t motivate and retain agents based on salary, flexibility (e.g., remote or hybrid options, compressed work weeks) is a strong alternative.

8. Track employee satisfaction or employee net promoter score (eNPS)

Show your employees that their opinions matter by creating regular feedback loops – but only if you intend to act on the insights. If you manage a large call center team, regular one-on-ones might not be possible, so the next best option is to conduct regular and anonymous mini-pulse surveys or eNPS. While NPS is typically used to gauge customer satisfaction, eNPS gauges employee satisfaction by asking, “On a scale of 1–10, how likely are you to recommend our company as an employer to a friend?” Soliciting feedback straight from the horse’s mouth will tell you whether your motivation and retention efforts are resonating. It’s also effective for zeroing in on potential issues and making data-informed decisions about how you could improve your workplace.

Plecto can help you boost motivation in your call center!

Plecto is chock-full of features designed to boost motivation – especially in high-turnover environments like call centers.

Plecto also offers integrations with popular telephony systems like AircallTalkdesk, and Ringover to help call center teams visualize and track important metrics in real time.

Dynamic dashboards are the perfect complement to your KPI strategy, enabling agents to switch between individual and team views to see how they’re performing against the team’s averages.

Plecto also makes it easy to incentivize performance in daily operations with motivational tools like gamification, leaderboards, points, badges, and more!

Sign up for a free 14-day trial and see how Plecto can help you motivate your call center agents to provide even higher levels of service!


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