CSR Career Development Best Practices for Improving CX
Author: Mike Desmarais, Founder & CEO, SQM Group
The essence of an effective CSR career development program is to have a formalized plan as a way to achieve alignment between a CSR’s career aspirations and the contact center’s workforce needs. The number one motivator for CSRs to improve their call resolution and Csat performance is career advancement opportunities. SQM’s research shows that the one of the top reasons why CSRs leave an organization is lack of career advancement opportunities. Given the importance that career advancement has for motivating CSRs, it is essential that career advancement and development opportunities are based on CSR call resolution and Csat performance.
A best practice is that all CSRs are required to stay in the CSR job for a minimum of two years, preferably three, to be eligible for career development within the organization but outside the call center. SQM’s research shows that if the contact center’s annual CSR turnover is higher than 20%, it can negatively impact FCR significantly. Therefore, it is recommended to create both lateral and upward positions within the contact center to reduce turnover in the contact center. Only first and second quartile CSR call resolution performers should be eligible for any type of advancement or development opportunities. CSRs that take lateral jobs should be performing at least at the contact center call resolution average of 88%. CSRs who are fourth quartile call resolution performers are not eligible for any type of promotion or development opportunities. When career advancement is based on VoC and handled effectively, it is a positive FCR game changer.
An effective career advancement program includes a formalized CSR career path and career path counseling sessions that supervisors provide to CSRs. The focus of the career counseling session is to identify specific career advancement opportunities as well as the knowledge, skills and abilities required for a CSR promotion. Listed below are some best practices for a career advancement program that will help retain and motivate CSRs to improve or maintain their VoC performance:
- Create four to six call type positions (e.g., general inquiries, claims, technical, billing, orders and escalation)
- Hire primarily for a career path within the contact center versus a career path for the organization
- Clearly communicate the career path within the contact center to CSRs
Career Growth Opportunities
The essence of an effective CSR career growth program is to provide knowledge and skills specific to the personal development of CSRs. Most CSRs recognize that new skills or knowledge would benefit them at some point within the contact center, organization, or possibly with a new organization. Providing CSRs with knowledge block training for handling specific call types (e.g., claims, billing, technical, orders and account inquires) has proven to be a best practice.
Taking the time to provide CSRs with career growth opportunities keeps the CSRs engaged and prepares them for handling different call types and leadership roles. Listed are best practices for CSR career growth that would help retain and motivate CSRs to improve or maintain their VoC performance:
- Have supervisors assign specific projects and/or supervisory responsibilities in order to enhance CSRs’ skills
- Call type knowledge blocks are used as a way to handle calls as well as provide CSRs with incremental career growth opportunities
- CSRs become mentors to new CSRs by helping them handle calls and learn the culture
Talent CapabilitiesMany of the world class FCR performing contact centers do talent capability assessments from the CSR to the SVP level. Their general belief is that the contact center needs to develop and nurture its employees. The talent capability assessments include a VoC call resolution assessment of CSR and supervisor performance. If there are certain call types or lines of business in which CSRs are under-performing, they are identified and action plans are developed to rectify the CSR under-performance. Talent capability assessments should be designed to improve FCR and be effective at understanding the knowledge, skills and abilities from the CSR to SVP level.
Succession planning should be part of a contact center’s strategic plan and objective. A strategic plan and objective that is based on being a world class VoC FCR performer requires developing and filling positions at all levels with people who are customer-centric. Most of SQM’s clients have talent capability assessments and succession planning at the manager to the SVP levels. However, very few of them do so at the CSR and supervisor levels. At a minimum, succession planning should be at the supervisor level. There should be enough time to groom successors, as well as a realistic timeline given to employees for career advancement opportunities.
More details can be found in SQM’s book:
The purpose of this book, One Contact Resolution 2nd Edition, is to help contact center managers use best practices for improving customer experience.