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In the post-pandemic world, contact center leaders are prioritizing three interconnected objectives: employee productivity, retention, and satisfaction.

By cultivating a positive working environment, leaders can optimize the employee experience to mitigate absenteeism and attrition while simultaneously enhancing productivity. One of the best places to start developing this culture is by implementing the proper onboarding and ongoing training.

The Need for Better Training and Enhanced Experiences

In 2021, overall contact center attrition reached 42%, and organizations with more than 5,000 associates had as much as 50% attrition. Of the associates surveyed for this report, 49% who left cited the need for a clear career growth path.

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Combating these growing attrition rates begins with implementing new and improved training and development programs. Programs that establish the desired career paths, as well as additional avenues for growth, can help lay the groundwork for increasing employee satisfaction and reducing attrition. Additionally, contact centers must invest in streamlined and high-quality employee onboarding, continuous skill development, and coaching. In a time when companies need more skilled associates than ever, and they need them fast, such investments and improvements are essential to contact center and associate success.

That said, simply accelerating the training process is not enough. If contact centers want their highly trained staff to stay around long enough to provide a strong return on investment, they must take additional steps to cultivate an engaging and satisfying work environment.

The Future of Contact Center Training and Retention

Forward-thinking contact center decision-makers will create a more engaging environment when they revamp training and retention strategies by focusing on:

Optimized Onboarding

The onboarding process must be smooth, frictionless, and valuable to the employee. Instead of inundating new hires with rules and regulations in the interest of checking a box, contact centers should meaningfully integrate these employees into the company culture.

To this end, treat onboarding as a first impression for the employee. While new hires are already familiar with the company and what it does, onboarding provides the first glimpse behind the scenes. If onboarding is fun, informative, and valuable, the employer-employee relationship will get off to a great start.

Along with setting new employees up for success, a robust and engaging onboarding program can also help improve the overall customer experience. When The Northridge Group was engaged by a major benefits administration provider to deliver a Performance Coaching Program that included coaching and development of new hires, the partnership resulted in a 34-percentage point increase in quality acceptance rate, a decrease in escalated cases, and positive associate morale and engagement.

Coaching & Upskilling

Offering employees the opportunity to enhance their skills can positively impact engagement, productivity, and morale, and such improvements are a huge area of focus for business leaders. In the recent 2023 State of CX report by The Northridge Group, 92% of business leaders surveyed said they would like to provide additional training to their customer service representatives.

As your company makes future investments in this area, consider what a career path through your company and contact center looks like, then work to implement consistent coaching and quality career training for your staff. When employees see an investment made in their development through coaching and continuous support, they can visualize their upward mobility. Knowing their organization is invested in and supports their career goals, immediately positively impacts retention and productivity.

The Northridge Group helped put this into action when we worked with a leading financial services company on a sales contact center transformation project that spanned recruiting, training, quality monitoring, workflow management, and performance metrics. During the partnership, we developed a strategic roadmap and led the implementation of various initiatives, including well-defined sales competencies and career paths. Within one year of implementation, the company saw 300% sales growth with the same headcount, increased associate productivity, improved associate morale, and a drop in voluntary attrition.

Leveraging AI in Training

While it can be easy to speculate about the potential for AI to put workers out of a job, the truth is that contact centers and AI-powered technologies have a symbiotic relationship. AI technologies are primed to transform the everyday workflows of the Contact Center by solving simple, low-trust interactions, like password resets and questions on bill payments. This means that contact center associates are going to need to be empowered and enabled to solve more complex and frankly more interesting customer challenges. If your training program isn’t ready to support this shift your customers will suffer.

Used as a training tool, AI can quickly analyze calls to help managers develop training and coaching strategies to pinpoint areas of opportunity in productivity. For example, AI can track negative sentiment on phone calls, allowing time for managers to coach associates and train more productive behaviors.

Leveraged for analytics, AI can also help managers by aggregating call data and removing the guesswork for coaching by suggesting existing training paths to improve individual performance.

How Training Can Move Your Business Forward

Northridge recently worked with a large retail firm to reduce onboarding time by 30% without degrading the quality of the training. Remote hires can be trained in ways they hadn’t been before, and the cost per associate has been reduced by 10%.

As you strive to adapt your contact center to the future of training and employee experience management, reevaluate your current upskilling and retention strategies. Think beyond salary incentives and strive to integrate other benefits into your business model — such as flexible work opportunities and AI-powered tools that reduce employees’ workloads.

You can create an inviting, inclusive, and engaging contact center by continuously improving your training and retention strategy. Learn more about how training has impacted the customer experience and where businesses spend their training money in Northridge’s State of CX 2023 Research Report.

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