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Many exit interviews, for instance, ask employees to provide feedback on irrelevant
topics, such as the new-hire orientation process. But if the agent has been with
the company for a while, how likely is it that he can accurately recall the orientation
Who is asking the questions presents another obstacle to obtaining honest feedback.
In some companies, the employee's direct supervisor conducts the exit interview,
effectively neutralizing any possibility of learning about problems in the supervisor-employee
relationship. In most organizations, however, the task falls to an HR staff member.
But what are the chances that employees will feel comfortable opening up to HR about
problems with their manager? Most will take the safe route and resort to the standard
"acceptable" reasons for leaving: better pay, better hours, better opportunities.
In fact, those stock answers often signal a deeper issue.
2. What Makes Agents Stay? While departing agents
may or may not choose to share their comments with you, a more powerful source of
actionable feedback can be collected from those who choose to stay, says customer
service and employee performance expert Jeff Toister, president of Toister Performance
Solutions. A "stay survey" takes the pulse of your current work environment and
its impact on your best agents. It can also help you to identify what your top performers
have in common—information that can be used to create an agent profile to
drive retention-based hiring.
But as with exit surveys, the right approach is critical. For instance, many organizations
survey their entire employee base on an annual or even biennial basis, which is
too infrequent to produce useful or actionable data. Instead, Toister advocates
surveying a small sample of agents much more frequently, such as monthly or quarterly.
Or forgo the formal survey in favor of an ongoing dialogue with your agents. In
one-on-one sessions and performance reviews, ask for their feedback and include
questions like: What keeps you here? What are your goals?
3. Why Do Agents Join? New-hire surveys can help
to identify the breakdowns in trust that can occur early on when new agents decide
that the job is not what they expected—a common cause of new-hire turnover
in contact centers. This can usually be traced to overselling the company and/or
position in the recruiting and interview process, and not providing candidates with
a realistic job preview (e.g., simulations, side-by-sides with senior agents).
Besides surveying new employees, Hecht recommends conducting a job candidate survey
to gain insights about the recruitment process. "If we want to protect our brand,
then we should be asking for feedback from the individuals who interview with us,
but who aren't hired," he says.