Is your contact centre taking sufficiently seriously the importance of comprehensive onboarding?

Onboarding – defined by Cambridge University as “the process in which new employees gain the knowledge and skills they need to become effective members of an organisation” – will always play a crucial role in an agent’s chances of adapting to their new organisation and achieving sustained success.

The agent in question may find it more challenging to seamlessly transition into the responsibilities of their new role if they have never previously worked in a contact centre environment. 

However, regardless of whether that is the case, it pays to think carefully about how your organisation can most effectively introduce its latest recruits to their work. This is borne out by research findings indicating the crucial difference the optimal onboarding approaches can make to agents’ chances of staying engaged and making the right impact. 

What do the statistics say about contact centres’ onboarding strategies? 

The research in question has shown that businesses have numerous ways of onboarding their new contact centre employees. Most respondents stated that they had a buddying or mentoring programme in place, and some form of official ‘graduation’, to help ease new agents into the real work following basic training in call handling. 

It was also interesting to see from the survey that more than two thirds – 68% – of the businesses questioned provided individual agent training plans. This is a trend that seems to be becoming more widespread with each passing year. 

Also discovered through the research was that just under half of respondents sought 360-degree feedback from new agents – a practice that can be crucial for providing insights into the ‘real-world’ experience of the agent onboarding process, to help inspire improvements. 

Some 55% of the research participants offered a single portal through which all the paperwork and internal administrative tasks a new employee required could be accessed. 

Less encouragingly however, a mere 21% of the respondents had pre-start familiarisation visits, even if this figure was as high as 36% prior to the pandemic; the remaining 79% dropped the new agent in at the deep end from their first day of work. 

What difference does this variation in methods make to onboarding success? 

The findings of research into the effects of these various onboarding processes were clear: a higher proportion of respondents using a greater number of onboarding methods recorded a lower short-term agent attrition rate. 

More specifically, 64% of respondents that offered five or more onboarding methods as covered in the research had low new agent attrition, whereas this proportion dropped to just 42% of contact centres which offered fewer than three onboarding methods. 

It is of course important to apply the usual caveats – including that correlation is not causation. Nonetheless, such findings do point to the possibility that agents receiving a greater amount of onboarding support over the course of their first few weeks might be better placed to adapt quickly and confidently to the work and the culture of their new organisation than those who are not so comprehensively supported. 

To find out more about agent engagement, please download our free research report “The Inner Circle Guide to Omnichannel Workforce Optimisation”.