How to Lose an Agent in 10 Days
The 2003 romantic comedy, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days stars an aspiring young journalist, Andie Anderson, who’s pushing the boundaries on what she can write about in her new piece on how to get a man to leave you after 10 days.
In my 20 years working in or with contact centers, I’ve learned a thing or two about the agents. So I’m channeling my inner Andie Anderson and writing my own reverse “How To” with the help of my esteemed colleague Danny Wang.
If you want to keep your agents, here’s a little story of what not to do…
Day 1: No agent training.
Riiiiing! The almost inaudible sound repeats as Andie searches to find the volume control on her new headset. Andie answers the phone, already knowing she won’t be much help to the caller on the other end. Andie says hello and quickly puts the customer on hold before transferring the call to a different representative. It’s her first day working in a contact center handling customer service at for a large retail company. And Andie, whose only experience with the company was purchasing a pair of jeans from them last year, wasn’t given any training before being told to jump on the phones this morning. It was her first job in a contact center and she had assumed she would get some training before they put her on the phones.
Well, I guess I’ll just wing it - put customers on hold to ask my co-workers for help, she thought.
Day 2: The contact center technology is outdated.
Today is a new day, Andie thought as she put on her headset. She’d figure this all out for herself. It couldn’t get any worse. As it turned out, she was wrong.
The company’s outdated contact center technology was a mess! Andie was going back-and-forth between software programs. There was contact center software, the customer information system, another program to look up orders, and a different window for email and chat! She could hear the frustration increasing in the customer’s voices when she was unable to find the information they wanted quickly. Andie was becoming frustrated too.
Day 3: Unreasonable targets and performance metrics for agents.
On her third day, Andie’s manager sat her down to make sure she understood the targets and performance metrics. Apparently she was told these the day she started but she couldn’t remember. He explained how she had hourly and daily goals and she had to hit these numbers to keep her job.
Andie went back to her desk and looked at her targets. She was shocked when she saw she was supposed to take 45 calls an hour. There was no way she could handle a customer call in a minute or so. That’s how long it took to have a customer explain their question and she would need time to look it up and then come up with a resolution for them. Andie was starting to get worried.
Day 4: Poor management.
Day four and Andie still felt like she needed some training. She had an idea to do a lunch-and-learn agent training but when she went to propose the idea to her manager, she was shot down. There was “no time” to train employees and if they needed it, maybe this wasn’t the job for them.
She also started to notice other behaviors about her manager. He always stayed in his office and when he did come out, it was only to yell at someone to get back on the phones. Surely, Andie was wondering if this is the job for her.
Day 5: Bad work environment.
On her fifth day, Andie talked to other agents about their experience. She was hoping maybe they would have some tips or tricks for her. Or maybe they would say “things get better in time” and “be patient” as she ramped up.
What she learned instead was that she wasn’t alone in her frustration. Many of her coworkers were unhappy with the work environment and looking for new jobs. Oh well, at least she made it through week one. Time for the weekend and maybe things would be better next week!
Day 6: No CRM/ Software Integration.
I’m ready for a fresh start this week, thought Andie as she started her Monday. But from the very first call, the software challenges were so stressful. Looking up basic account information for the customers took so long! Andie heard from other agents that some companies integrated their customer information with their contact center software. That would sure make life easier and would go a long way towards improving customer service. She thought of suggesting the idea to her supervisor but knew she would just be turned away again.
Day 7: Work overload.
With all the challenges Andie was dealing with at her job, from the lack of good technology to the unreasonable metrics, by the time 5:30pm rolled around, she was exhausted! Today, she’d spent the last several hours on the phone, splitting her time between inbound and outbound calls. The contact center so busy all day long that she rarely had any downtime and her lunch break was only 30 minutes. Handling calls for 7.5 hours day dealing with customers who were upset or had so many questions was really a challenge and again exhausting. How did people do this for 40 hours a week?
Day 8: A lack of rewards and recognition.
There was nothing motivating Andie to come to work this morning – or any morning. Her supervisor was condescending, her coworkers were unhappy, and there was really no incentive to do her job well. Working in contact centers can be challenging and Andie really wished the contact center invested in something cool, like gamification or a program to make work more fun! No such luck.
Day 9: The company doesn’t care about the customer experience.
Andie was starting to wonder how much more she could take. Before she had started the job Andie thought they cared about customers; mostly because she saw it everywhere in their marketing campaigns. But now she sees what goes on behind closed doors and was starting to question that. If management didn’t care about customers, then how was she supposed to pretend the company cared about the customer experience when she answered or made a phone call?
Day 10: Pay/Compensation not panning out.
At least today is payday, Andie thought as she sat down at her desk. When Andie saw an email asking to see HR about her pay, she was a little nervous. During her interview process, the company told Andie the compensation plan was a base pay, plus commission for upselling. So when she went to HR and told her she didn’t qualify for the compensation plan anymore, she was outraged. This was the last straw and Andie put in her two weeks notice.
Your agents are a reflection of your brand. It’s important to give them the training, tools, technology, and positive environment they need to do their job effectively. Keep your agents happy or you’ll risk losing them, sometimes even in less than 10 days.