9 Tips For Retaining Customer Support Agents

By Deon Nicholas
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Setting your business up for success to be able to serve your customers how you would want to be served mens building a strong customer service team and working on retaining your customer support agents. 

Your customer service agents and representatives are responsible for helping your customers make the most of whatever product or service they’ve purchased from you. Great customer service representatives are essential to achieving high customer satisfaction (CSAT), a goal you should always keep in mind. 

The life of a customer support agent isn’t an easy one though. If you’ve worked in customer service or support you’ll know it’s a challenging field, proved by an industry turnover rate of nearly 40%

Your agents are fielding an onslaught of questions day in and day out and it can be stressful dealing with impatient, unhappy people while searching through copious notes to find the right answer for one specific inquiry. If you’re not providing them with the right tools to do the job, then things get even trickier for them. 

The good news is that there are so many things you can do to make the life of your agents better and work on retaining top customer support agents. In this blog we’ll lay out the best tips we’ve come across to retaining customer support agents. 

#1: Start With Your People

Getting the right people for your team starts with finding them first. Even if you have the most advanced customer support technology at your disposal, you won’t make the most of it without great people to help provide great customer service. 

When it comes to hiring you need to have a clear understanding of the types of people you’re hoping to hire, a defined process for vetting candidates, and a plan in place to keep them around for the long run.

With agent attrition rates so high, it can be difficult to find the right people for the job. If someone isn’t cut out to deal with customers all day long, it’s unlikely they’d stick around for long. The stakes can be high when you’re trying to find the right agents for the job, in fact 60% of customers will abandon a company after just one bad experience with them. 

You want individuals who enjoy problem solving and are fast learners. You can teach almost anyone how to use a new computer software so you’ll need to find individuals who can learn well and adapt to a changing environment. 

When you have the right people for your team, you can accomplish anything! 

#2: How’s Your Onboarding? 

Finding the right people for your customer service team doesn’t just end with hiring them. In order to attract talent and help with retaining customer support agents, you should have a clarified onboarding process that will help you train and enable your reps to do even more for your customers. 

You can help with retaining customer support agents by improving your onboarding process

Most companies really just have their new hires hit the ground running with little-to-no training making it difficult for them to learn and retain any of the information they are being taught.

Remember that the work of a support agent has them learning everything about your organization. They need to be able to assist customers with account management, product usage, product or service knowledge, company information, and more. That’s a lot of information for them to retain. And that’s not even mentioning the tools they need to learn how to use, the culture they need to adjust to, and a new environment to adapt to.

You can improve the onboarding process by having a plan for how long agents need to be trained. Whether the onboarding process takes 30 or 90 days, you need a clear cut plan for what agents are being trained with and how they will continue to learn and grow in their new role. 

#3: Consider Enablement 

Hiring and onboarding new talent is just the start of providing high quality customer experiences. 

When your support reps have an understanding of who they’re serving and how to best go about their tasks they’ll feel confident in their jobs. But the training and enablement doesn’t stop once you’ve onboarded your reps.

Continuing to enable your employees to do their jobs and do them well can aid in retaining customer support agents and in helping them feel like their employer cares about their abilities and wants to continue improving them. 

Enabling your reps can look like providing further training, implementing new tools that make customer support tasks easier to manage as well as make it easier and faster to reply to support tickets, and providing continuous leadership and constructive feedback. 

#4: Agent Experience Needs Improving 

When it comes to keeping employees around and motivated to do a good job at their jobs, the culture of your organization plays a massive role. 

Leading contact centers and support teams know that improving work/life balance and company culture is essential to keeping employees around and happy to continue providing support.

In order to improve the agent experience for your reps, you should consider:

  • Giving agents flexibility with work arrangements
  • Enabling them with the right tools to do a good job
  • Asking for feedback from your employees 
  • Putting the right leadership in place 
  • Allowing  for growth in the agent role

By putting effort into improving the agent experience for the support reps you hire, you will help boost morale and in turn help improve the customer experience as well. 

#5: Consider the Customer

You can work on retaining customer support agents by helping create a culture of putting your customers first. Everything an agent learns helps them better serve customers and understand how to provide better service. 

When you create a work environment where you’re putting customers first and are willing to help meet their needs, you can begin to emphasize the impact and importance of a support agent’s role. 

They’re the reason your customers are happy and why satisfaction rates are so high. Help keep it that way or build to it by considering the customer when creating a strategy to decrease agent attrition. 

#6: Provide The Right Tools

What are you using to help make the life of a support agent easier? 

Aside from great training and top-quality onboarding processes, what else are you providing to enable your reps to help meet KPIs and increase support metrics? 

We’ve reached a digital age where customers expect their needs to be met right when they have them and your metrics pay the price if they’re not. What customers expect is to be able to resolve issues in a single transaction, with the help of a knowledgeable agent, and without having to repeat themselves and their needs. 

According to Zendesk’s 2022 Customer Experience Trends Report, ticket volume increased across all channels during the pandemic causing an increased need for support reps to be able to manage the influx.

There are a few routes you can go to help with a rise in ticket volume, such as hiring more people, delegating tasks to other teams, or implementing a tool to help change both your agent experience and customer experience.

The use of customer support AI has increased in the last few years and is just what your teams need to be able to provide better customer service and help keep agents around. 

Customer support AI can help deflect repetitive incoming customer support questions, improve ticket handling (more on that below), and assist agents with answering customer needs. 

When you provide your agents with the right tools to do the job you make it easier for them to provide high quality customer experience. This not only leads to higher customer satisfaction and great metrics, but it also increases agent retention and longevity in your teams. 

#7: Improve Ticket Handling

One of the most frustrating tasks in customer support is managing ticket handling. Many teams still have individuals labeling tickets as they come in so they can be routed to the appropriate person or team. This can cause bottlenecks and frustration within your organization.

A better way to handle ticket triaging would be to use a tool that relieves your agents of manually labeling incoming support needs.

AI for customer support is the perfect solution for this as auto-triage can reduce pressure from your support teams and give them more time to focus on more important tasks, like answering more complex customer needs. 

With automated ticket triaging you’ll be utilizing smart routing that uses your organization’s historical data to accurately connect customers with the best help. AI can help classify tickets as urgent or spam with expert accuracy and actually provide accurate answers since it understands sentence structure, meaning, tone, and nuance. 

By improving the process in which you manage your tickets and how you go about easing agent tasks, improving ticket handling can help keep team members on board.

#8: Celebrate the Wins! 

Don’t forget to highlight when your team wins. Whether that looks like meeting new satisfaction metrics or improving your key performance indicators, celebrating the wins means you’re highlighting your employees and building them up. 

When employees feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work and effort, they’re far more satisfied with their employer and their job at hand. You can improve morale and company culture by stopping to celebrate every now and again.

#9: Ask and Provide Feedback 

Communication within your customer support teams is important if you’re strategizing how to improve agent retention. You want managers to be able to effectively communicate with agents and you want agents to be able to communicate their needs and wants within their role. 

Communication in the form of feedback will result in more talented representatives because you’ll better understand what they need support on and how you can fully support them. 

Feedback can be given frequently regarding work processes, specific customer needs and expectations, metrics, employee performance, and more. 

Managers should ask for feedback frequently and welcome any questions from their teams. When you create a clear open door for communication you’ll have employees who feel heard and like they can trust you. This can help improve retaining customer support agents. 

Expand Your Support Organization With AI 

We mentioned before the power that the right tools can have for customer support teams. 

Investing in retaining customer support agents is an investment in your CX to be able to grow your bottom line. You risk a lot trying to deliver subpar customer service and you need a team that feels empowered to do a good job at meeting your customers with what they need. 

You can help retain agents by empowering them and your support organization with AI designed for customer support teams

AI for customer support is a complete AI platform that takes your customers through the entire customer support journey. When a customer asks a question AI can help automatically solve it and provide an answer based off of previous ticket history data. AI understands intent and comprehends nuances in sentences allowing it to provide the most accurate information. 

If a ticket cannot be solved it is then automatically triaged to the appropriate team for an answer. AI then continues to assist agents in surfacing knowledge articles and information to resolve tickets quickly and efficiently. 

Customer support AI not only enhances your support organization but it makes life for your agents easier and in the end will help in retaining support agents. 

If you have any questions, you can learn more here

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Interested in generative AI for customer support? Check out this guide to learn about the 3 key pillars you need to get started.

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