January 13, 2023
Training and development functions exist in most contact center operations. Some organizations focus primarily on new hire training, while others also provide ongoing training. Select contact centers add structured performance reviews and development programs to ensure their employees’ professional growth and to increase the likelihood of staff staying with their organization.
In this article, we use data from the following research reports to demonstrate how training and development can function as an employee retention strategy:
- COPC Inc. Global Benchmarking Series, Contact Center Training and Development
- COPC Inc. Employee Engagement Research, Global Report
Team Leaders: The Key to an Engaged & Motivated Team
Research shows that an effective team leader can help improve employee satisfaction and retention. Honing a team leader’s skillset is fundamental to broader contact center employee engagement initiatives. In this webinar with Harte Hanks, we have a research-backed discussion about the impact of investing in team leaders.
Improving Training and Development Programs
Executives reported training as the top staff-related challenge in service delivery, and it tied for second place among all challenges at 47%. Improving the customer experience was the only challenge that ranked higher than training.
However, training and development seldom receive the same focus as other performance outcomes such as service level, quality, or customer satisfaction metrics. This lack of attention is ironic since the effectiveness of training and development directly impacts all metrics.
New Hire Training
New hires value initial training, so doing a good job is essential. The chart below shows that frontline employees felt the training provided equipped them for success in their current position. Often, organizations use overall attrition rates to measure retention, but this measurement masks the impact of those who leave early in their tenure. Poor hiring and training cause people to leave quickly.
The impact is direct. Of those new hires who rated either Strongly Agree or Agree that “The training my organization provided for my current job equipped me to succeed,” 82% said they are very likely to continue with their current organization over the next year. When new hires felt “Neutral” about their training, retention intent dropped by 24 points down to 58%.
If the frontline respondents thought their training was “Poor,” meaning they rated “Disagree” or “Strongly Disagree”, only 34% were planning to stay. This is a 48-point drop in retention intent after new hire training.
These statistics confirm that a solid and effective new hire training program is a key driver of agent retention. Respondents who were satisfied with their training were 2.4 times more likely to stay than those who were not satisfied.
Learning continues after formal training, and ongoing performance reviews are critical to the development of employees. However, frontline staff development through structured performance reviews happens less often than executives think.
Sixty-four percent of executives said reviews happen at least monthly, and 92% believe structured performance reviews happen at least quarterly.
Employees tell a very different story as shown on the right-hand side of this chart.
Only 57% of staff say they receive a structured performance review monthly, and only 76% say they receive coaching quarterly. It is alarming that 24% of employees say they received no quarterly performance feedback. Twelve percent of employees responded that they never get performance feedback.
These numbers are an astounding indictment of the industry’s neglect of ongoing development. Yet it is the top people challenge cited by executives in 2022.
To the right, you can see that 71% of employees who received structured reviews said they plan to stay with the organization over the next 12 months, versus 48% for those who do not. That is why consistent, ongoing and frequent structured performance reviews are vital to an effective employee retention strategy. Reviews often center around employee performance KPI goals and career development.
However, remember that one-on-one discussions are also a good time for managers to demonstrate they care by listening to employees’ feedback and concerns. When executed well, this process improves performance, reduces variation and increases employee retention.
Effective training and development programs set the tone for an agent’s ability to resolve customer issues and create positive customer experiences. Well-trained and supported agents feel more prepared, valued and confident about their skills. In turn, employee satisfaction improves, which drives high performance and agent retention.
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