By Jason Quinn
Millennials have a reputation for leaving their jobs faster than any other generation. Most stay in roles for about two years before jumping ship. Apply that ratio to a call center, where the very nature of employment is transient, and that number skyrockets.
At our call center (where I am the senior sales trainer), we rely on our agents as the front line of our sales force: They respond to every incoming customer call, and their professionalism and skill in answering questions is essential to our revenue. Retaining these employees is integral, but most of them view their position as a stopgap until they find other employment or a steppingstone to other opportunities in the company.
Providing agents with proper onboarding and coaching is of the utmost importance. Throwing too much information at new hires, failing to create a supportive and fun environment, and neglecting to outline the potential for mobility within the organization only adds to poor retention.
Here are three tips for turning Millennials into engaged, productive employees in any call center:
1) Hit Them with a Culture Blast: Before you turn on a fire hose of information, remember that new employees only retain about 25 percent of the information presented on the first day. Instead of a dry information dump of company facts, teach them about your corporate culture. Make day one about who you are as a company and how you’re working to achieve a common goal.
One of the most powerful ways to reinforce culture on their first day is to share the story of who you are and how you got there. Like most organizations, ours has a memorable rags-to-riches story. If a new hire goes home and explains the genesis story to a friend or relative, he or she has already taken the first step to being engaged. Help them understand where you came from so they can be part of where you are going.
Another way to teach aspects of culture is by immediately pairing new hires with veterans or star performers. By shadowing them, they get a firsthand look at how current employees interact with customers, and expectations are set from the beginning. It also serves to introduce them to their peer group and reinforces that together they are building something bigger.
2) The Power of One: One Goal, One Team: Going home at the end of their first day feeling overwhelmed with technical knowledge can leave new hires feeling anxious about what’s next. “Is every day going to be like this?” “Am I cut out for this?” “Did I retain any information?”
After showing your great culture, the most important thing is to help newbies understand how their role contributes to the success of the company. In my company, our managing director gives a speech to each class of rookies on their first day, telling them, “I could go away, and this business would run smoothly tomorrow, next week, and next month. But if you are not here, the business will not exist.” Your sales center agents are the first contact with your customers, and the importance of this interaction should not be understated.
One of my all-time favorite moments came after the first day of one of my training groups. As everyone filed out of the training room, a new agent came up to me and said, “Wow, you guys really care about your frontline employees.”
This is how you want trainees to feel when they leave after their first day – and each day after that.
3) Make Everyone a Visionary: Providing new hires with a glimpse into how passionate your call center agents are and sharing success stories of agents who have transitioned from the call center to other positions in the company helps reinforce how an engaged, supportive culture can benefit everyone.
Vision is how you connect your entire company together, working toward a common goal. At most call centers, senior managers and leadership never stop by the sales floor to say hello and share their vision for the business. But in our culture most of our department heads pop in at different times to express their appreciation for our frontline workers and explain how they contribute.
These five-minute check-ins model the passion we expect from our employees, and it energizes new hires.
Conclusion: If you want to run a successful sales center with high levels of retention, especially when dealing with Millennials, help new hires understand the company’s history and integrate them into your workplace culture. Break down barriers between upper-level management and frontline employees by showing appreciation, sharing goals, and letting them know that most of the ideas that push the company forward come from them.
Jason Quinn is the senior sales trainer in the call center at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
[From Connection Magazine – May/June 2016]