10 Steps to a Better Agent Career Path
The high energy and the feeling of ‘making a difference’ are all highly attractive components for many choosing to work in the contact center industry. But it can become unattractive for people that want to continue to grow and build their skills. It may seem like a dead-end job. To retain these important people, contact centers must have a better agent career path that is worth following.
The contact center is more than a place where people can start their career. It provides a solid foundation to learn a valuable range of business skills, using business systems, building business acumen, building teamwork skills, problem solving skills, and the importance of the customer.
Working in a contact center can offer a large number of career opportunities both within the contact center and within your organization. But without a good agent career path in place, agents won’t be able to see the opportunities and they will begin to seek opportunities elsewhere.
From Chronic to Crisis
Agent turnover and burnout has been a consistent problem in contact centers for decades. The only time during this period when it wasn’t a problem is when people stayed put because of a weak and slow economy. The economic downturns merely were temporary reprieves from the problem.
We can debate forever on the root causes of the agent turnover problem. But one thing is certain. Not having a good agent career path is definitely one of the problems that contributes to low tenure and low morale.
In her article titled Creating Career Paths for Agents, Susan Hash shares that key trends are converging that are likely to reshape the way centers view agent career development:
- Employees want to work for employers who help them to develop and grow their careers. They will leave those who don’t. The lack of opportunity to advance was the No. 2 reason why millennials quit (after minimal wage growth). Source: Ernst & Young.
- Employers everywhere are experiencing a global talent shortage. Since the recession, according to the latest Talent Shortage Survey released by ManpowerGroup. Of the 42,000+ employers surveyed, 40% are experiencing difficulties filling roles.
- When it comes to complex issues, consumers prefer personalized service from humans that are more knowledgeable and creative in problem-solving.
- Businesses across various sectors view the ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience as the means to differentiate themselves from competitors. And you can’t get that from a bot or Artificial Intelligence.
Successful Agent Career Path
Kelli started her career as a contact center agent. She spent several years working in contact centers all over the United States. She worked for the outsourcer APAC in Green Bay, Wisconsin, then onto the retailer QVC in Port St. Lucie, Florida next to a pharmacy benefit management company called SXC Health Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona before moving to Southern California to the National Notary Association.
Kelli feels her greatest professional accomplishment and her passion have definitely been in the area of career development. She has been able to guide many of her direct reports to reach higher levels of management. She takes great satisfaction in seeing her team members move up and move on. Kelli takes pride in helping to career path all levels of her staff.
One of her greatest successes was creating a career path for contact center agents that was eventually modified and adopted in the entire organization.
I met Kelli in the Contact Center Group on Linkedin and invited her to be a guest on the Fast Leader Show at Call Center Week. We conducted a live interview on location. As part of her interview she provided attendees with a checklist that contains the 10 Steps to a Better Agent Career Path.
Career Path Mistakes
Kelli shared with me that many people make mistakes when they create career paths. for instance, only viewing the career path as a vertical path is a mistake. Not everybody is capable or wanting to move to a higher-level position.
Also many people have no understanding of what it takes to achieve the next level of advancement. And they often do not understand what they need to do personally to make that happen. That type of career coaching is not taught at home or in school. It only takes place on the job and most companies fail to do it.
But Kelli knows the impact of making the investment in a better agent career path. Her contact center is in a very competitive job market in the Los Angeles area. Last year Kelli’s contact center had ZERO TURNOVER. Yes, no turnover.
Better Agent Performance
Kelli also shares they experienced significant gains in agent performance when they implemented the agent career path. It was almost instantaneous. And the performance has been sustainable.
And her contact center has been able to advance the careers of 18 people from the contact center into different parts of the organization. Many of these people might have left the company if it wasn’t for the career path development work of her team.
Get the 10 Steps to a Better Agent Career Path
In addition to making the 10 Steps to a Better Agent Career Path checklist available to conference attendees, Kelli has allowed us to make it available to everyone in the Call Center Coach Public Facebook Community. The easy to follow checklist has been developed from more than 20 years of Kelli’s experience working in contact centers and building several career path programs.
You can learn how just Download the 10 Steps to a Better Agent Career Path now.
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.