Reducing Agent Attrition Using Social Networking

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I had promised to address the topic of using Social Media to develop a sense of “belonging” or teamwork within the contact center, which was brought up by one of our blog readers. The goal of deploying social media was to use it as a means to reduce agent turnover. It may seem as though the linking of these two topics is a stretch—but if you bear with me for a moment, I think you’ll see there is a natural link.

When you focus on where teams make the most sense in a contact center organization, they revolve around performance and knowledge. Performance teams handle similar work, such as taking similar interactions. Knowledge “communities”, made up of people knowledgeable and interested in particular topics, may cross teams, and may even cross departments.

So here are the linkages in my mind: As agents join a contact center, they become part of multiple teams: a team of agents who handle like interactions, and as they gain experience, a team of subject matter experts in a particular knowledge area. It’s very likely those two teams are not made up of the same members.

So where does social media fit in? Social media, Knowledge Management systems, and Content Management systems seem to me to be pieces of an overall puzzle that fit together for the best strategy in communicating information, and for providing storage/archiving mechanisms for that information should it need to be retrieved or used again.

Subject matter experts can use services like Facebook, Linked In, or even Twitter to disseminate information. It’s a great way to “broadcast” or “narrowcast” to a group of interested individuals subscribing to information. They can be used for detailed, formatted content as well as one-off items. Knowledge Management and Content Management come in as the means to store, archive, and link to that information so that it can be retrieved, perhaps for an audit, or searched, in case the same question comes up. “I remember Marisa tweeting about this topic last month…”. The ability to store the information and retrieve it after the fact ensures that it isn’t lost, and can be re-used to improve efficiency.

Subject matter experts who share information gain status in a group, and a sense of belonging. Assigning a career development path to an agent, and a role with objectives, such as “we expect you to share information on the following, which might take the form of x number of tweets, or y number of articles you post on Linked In, etc.”, helps them feel connected to the company as a whole, and valued. If your social network allows people to rank the usefulness of information, if your agent grows in status to become a respected subject matter expert, and that expertise fits within a well-directed career path at the organization, there’s value for the agent and for your company. And that may reduce your contact center attrition rate, especially with more desirable employees.

What are your thoughts on social networking, agent retention, and contact centers? Let’s brainstorm together!

Rachel Wentink