The customer service industry can be challenging, but it can also be immensely rewarding. If you are able to retain agents and encourage them to climb the customer service career ladder, it will benefit both the agent and your organization as a whole.
Engaged, enthusiastic agents boost service standards and lower attrition rates, two big contributors to success. As a call center leader, it’s your responsibility to make this employee development possible and support your agents as they advance on their chosen career paths.
No two agents will follow the exact same career path, but there is a general roadmap for call center employees who want to advance their career in customer service. As with any other career, a range of factors will determine how far an agent can advance and what direction they will want to go in. Things like personality, ambition, and a mixture of soft and technical skills will determine suitability for a role. Let’s take a look at the potential career path of a typical call center agent.
A call center agent, also known as a representative, is responsible for directly interacting with customers in order to resolve issues and answer queries. In doing so, they act as the frontline of any contact center. Agents are typically tasked with meeting targets and hitting certain KPI numbers.
A call center supervisor, sometimes known as a team lead, oversees a team of agents. They are responsible for managing the team’s performance levels and comparing them against established goals and KPIs. They may also deal with escalated calls and the implementation of new processes and initiatives.
A call center manager is responsible for supporting and improving the performance of their team or department. They handle duties like training & coaching, setting goals and KPIs, defining roles within the team, and facilitating collaboration with other departments within the organization.
A call center customer service director oversees all aspects of CS operations and is largely responsible for the overall vision and strategy of their department. They establish high-level goals, participate in meetings with the senior leadership team, and align KPIs with the wider aims of the organization.
Career advancement in the call center doesn’t just benefit the agent in question; it can produce a number of positive outcomes for the entire organization.
According to a 2022 LinkedIn report, 94 percent of employees would stay in a job longer if the company was invested in their development. Retaining staff is better for your budget and your customers, so anything you can do to keep staff engaged and enthusiastic is worth investing in.
Of course, you will need to hire new staff sometimes, and in the hiring process, you want to attract the best candidates. If you can establish a clear career path and highlight this in the recruitment process, you will stand out from your competitors in the job market.
If you feel better, you work better. The possibility of internal career growth, combined with proper training, will make your employees happier and more efficient. With a Salesforce survey finding that career growth is a top motivator for employees to stay in a role, it’s no surprise that development opportunities boost morale.
If you don’t support your agents and provide growth opportunities, why would they remain loyal to your organization? Employees who are encouraged to develop and grow internally will be more motivated to stick around as they won’t need to seek out opportunities elsewhere.
People talk. If your employees aren’t happy, word will get around, damaging your reputation in the marketplace and impacting your ability to attract new business. If you have a reputation as a positive, growth-oriented company, this will improve your standing.
Better retention, improved productivity, stronger reputation—all of this will feed into overall performance and boost the bottom line. If your team is united and efficient, you will see reduced costs and greater opportunities for growth, ultimately leading to a bigger profit margin.
The benefits of encouraging agent development in the call center are clear, but how do you ensure your agents have the opportunity to grow? There are steps you can take to facilitate career advancement and support agent aspirations.
When evaluating a potential new role, 65 percent of workers cite employer-provided upskilling as an important factor. Providing suitable training on a regular basis will reduce churn, keep morale up, and improve the overall productivity of your contact center, while also opening up the possibility of career advancement. Both technical and soft skills are needed to succeed in customer service leadership roles, and you can establish these skills throughout your team through a mix of learning approaches. Using scorecards, you can address agent skill gaps and provide tailored training to ensure they are capable of taking the next step in their career.
Clear communication is key to a thriving working environment, particularly when it comes to charting a path for career growth. You need to explain to employees what is required to advance and their potential options. Be sure to outline what skills and achievements are required to progress, what a new role would entail, and how the application process works.
Keeping agents engaged can be challenging, but thankfully, the possibility of career development can be an excellent motivational tool. If you can show your agents that growth opportunities do exist, it will encourage them to put their best foot forward. Make your agents a part of wider company goals and explain how their advancement would support the success of the organization at large. You can even create healthy competition among agents with regular challenges and leaderboards.
High-performing agents deserve acknowledgment for their achievements. By rewarding those who perform well and express interest in career advancement, you can establish a growth mindset in the call center. You can also highlight the importance of loyalty by rewarding long-serving employees and offering sincere recognition of their service. Rewards can range from financial to personal, be that a bonus or a mentorship opportunity. The most important thing is that the reward is appropriate and genuine.
By encouraging your agents to apply for new roles internally, you are illustrating the potential for career development that exists within the call center. You can do this by offering benefits to internal applicants that aren’t available to those applying externally. For example, you could provide existing agents with the first opportunity to interview or even run an internal recruitment campaign before looking outside the organization if necessary.
A happy workplace is a successful one. If you can cultivate a positive, nourishing environment where agents feel valued and capable of achieving their goals, you’ve probably taken the biggest step to encouraging career advancement. Learning opportunities, social events, regular check-ins, and more can improve morale and keep agents engaged. You should also involve agents as much as possible by requesting feedback. Ask them why they joined in the first place, what’s kept them around, what would they change, etc. The best way to support employee development is to understand their existing motivations and their hopes for the future. This will allow you to create a positive environment and potentially establish individual career plans.
When promoting career advancement in your call center, there are a few things you need to be mindful of. Firstly, remember that communicating in a clear, transparent manner is key to successful internal growth. Be sure to outline exactly what career advancement would mean for an agent. There will be extra responsibilities alongside the perks; if their expectations don’t match the reality of the role, it could lead to disappointment. Remember that a cultural fit is just as important as the right skill set. If your agent doesn’t have the right personality for the role, despite meeting the technical criteria, it probably won’t work out in the long run. Personality also determines agent motivations. While most would be happy with a pay rise, you want to be sure that your employees are driven by more than their paycheck. If money is the only thing on an agent's mind, what’s to stop them from jumping ship to a different career? And finally, while it’s always good to give your existing talent the opportunity to advance their call center career, remember that sometimes you will have to look outside the organization to find the right candidate.
Encouraging your agents to advance their career in customer service doesn’t only benefit them; it benefits the entire contact center. Agent development means better morale, improved performance, reduced churn, and a whole host of other benefits. As a leader, you can step up and make this career growth possible, supporting your agents as they support your organization. With a purpose-built quality assurance tool like Scorebuddy, you can establish the basis for career advancement. Custom scorecards will allow you to identify skill gaps that may limit agents, and our integrated learning management system will assist you in addressing them. To see how Scorebuddy supports agents and leaders alike, get in touch today to request a free 14-day trial.