Strategies and Practices for Improving Retention of Customer Care Talents

Our August 25th Customer Service Peer Group meeting discussed the very important topic of how to improve retention of customer care talent. More specifically, the group eagerly dove deeper into interactive presentations and conversations discussing how to help strengthen the bond between your team and your organization, making it easy for your best team members to find fulfillment in the work they do.

An important part of any business is to keep your employees engaged, from the time they begin the interview process to the time you part ways, from training hours and resources to pay and benefits. Maintaining relationships with your employees and retaining that talent in your organization is powerful and can help lead your business to success. This can also translate to efficiencies in the business and increased customer loyalty.

Our session started with guest speaker Sarah Ellis, Co-founder of Amazing If, joining us virtually from the United Kingdom. Sarah introduced the idea, through visual drawings and pictures, that we now describe our careers as much more squiggly – fluid and following multiple paths – as opposed to following the traditional linear method of climbing the corporate ladder. We are in an infinite learning loop where it is our job to figure out how to navigate these squiggly careers with confidence. Words that we use in our jobs are what frame our thinking.

Sarah shared three main objectives related to navigating squiggly careers: everyday development, coaching culture, and career safaris. To start with the right mindset Sarah shared some more relevant vocabulary that she calls “Squiggly Swaps” which are words that we use which frame our thinking and some more relevant replacements or swaps. For example, it is beneficial to move away from job titles and instead talk about talents. This is more motivating to the employee and can encourage a more positive mindset in the workplace. Everyday development involves making learning a habit. Sarah mentioned that the biggest barrier to learning is time. However, with an effort to build connections through curious career conversations, learning from our own mistakes, and borrowing brilliance from others, learning and growth can be an everyday occurrence. Sarah also emphasized the importance of coaching. Coaching yourself by listening and asking questions can also be extremely valuable. Lastly, Sarah mentioned that it can also be useful to go on “career safaris”, dipping your toes in other fields/teams and seeing which suits you best.

Next, we heard from Suzanne Sherry of excellerate3. Suzanne touched on the fact that the only way you are able to retain your people is to actually get to know them. You have to talk with them, understand why they come to work, give them feedback, and recognize that each person is going to be different and need different things. She mentioned that the main two reasons employers often lose people during the onboarding period (first 90 days) is because their perception of the job was incorrect or something happened in their personal life. It is important to listen to your employees and be an advocate for them. Suzanne talked about recognition programs to reward employees – gift cards, verbal thank you’s, and peer to peer recognition. There is not one recognition program that is better than another; it just has to be meaningful and tie back to what the organization values.

Following Suzanne’s presentation, the attendees separated into breakout sessions where they had the chance to discuss ideas they just heard about and incorporate those into their own organizations. The key ideas were then shared with the broader audience so everyone could benefit from these peer learning sessions.

A strong customer care team is essential to any business. They are the ones who directly help customers and address any problems customers may have. Although this can be a challenging field, maintaining a positive work environment and advocating for your employees will help to maximize retention of customer care talent.

Published September 7, 2022
Dylan Kopf and Jenny Zhang, Marketing Student Assistants