In many organisations, the contact center is viewed as a sperate community. But, when it comes to recruitment, the contact center can learn from HR.
We know that the highest internal churn rates occur during an advisor’s induction, onboarding and adjustment stage. However, if you have an orientation plan in place, like many HR departments do, you can help retain advisors for a longer period of time.
With this in mind, Orit Avital, General Manger at Ottorita, summarises the main principles of building an orientation plan, which will help you top retain new advisors and more.
What is an Orientation Plan?
An orientation plan is the general name for a clear structured process that the advisor undergoes from the moment they enter the organisation, until the end of their adjustment period.
It is intended to lead to a more pleasant induction process, which inspires a higher sense of certainty and security for the advisor.
The orientation plan should also promote the quick integration of the advisor within their role, the contact center and the overall organisation.
What are the Benefits of Having an Orientation Plan?
While this list could perhaps be extended further, here are the seven main benefits of creating an orientation plan.
- Reduction of recruitment costs by reducing abandonment.
- Acceleration of the recruitment and integration process of new advisors at the contact center.
- Reduction of the initial management resources invested in the advisor, during the initial period of their work at the contact center.
- Optimal co-ordination of expectations with the advisor, regarding their work and what is expected of them.
- Building and strengthening a positive attitude with high satisfaction of the new advisor, already upon the commencement of their employment.
- Reduction of anxiety, stress and uncertainty among new advisors.
- Institution of a structured, professional and sometimes progressive advisor training process.
An Orientation Plan Involves More Than Just a Welcome
It is true that the welcome created for a new recruit’s first day is very significant for later on. However, the essence of the plan does not end with the creation of a hearty welcome. This is an important and necessary activity in every organisation, but it is not the main thing.
Having said that, why not try to include the most cheerful when welcoming new advisors to the organisation?
In the context of the welcome, you could try out some of the activities listed below.
Activities for the First Day
While it is great to keep the first day light and breezy, to settle advisors into the roles, there are four key areas that should be covered. These are:
- An Introduction of the Organisation – Its history, vision and guiding values, principal norms and the organisational structure.
- An Introduction of the Contact Center – The function of the contact center in the company, the purpose of the contact center, guiding values and important functionaries.
- An Initial Introduction of Significant Functionaries – Team Leaders, Senior Advisors and of course the Contact Center Manager.
- A Clear Job Definition – This should include the significance of the advisor role within the organisation and in the contact center. Targets, objectives and responsibilities also need to be discussed.
Documents to Give to Advisors on Their First Day
Giving advisors the right information on the first day can help to improve their attitude towards the position.
Here are some six ideas for documents that you can give new recruits on their first day, from important materials to more innovative suggestions.
- A Personal letter from the company’s CEO congratulating the advisor on his joining the organisation.
- A list of essential contact persons – their full name, phone number and role in the organisation.
- Required onboarding documents – together with an example for the manner of filling them in, in the event this includes complicated documents.
- A document summarising the benefit package provided by the organization to its employees.
- A document telling of promotion opportunities, threshold conditions and the process of submitting candidacy to other positions.
- Written information on important organisational codes and norms such as – dress code, available functions at the organisation and manner of contacting them etc.
An Orientation Plan is More Than Initial Induction Training
The orientation plan includes the initial training that advisors undergo, before they start handling customer queries, but it does not end there.
A good orientation plan continues further beyond the initial training stage and includes activities of tightening the advisor’s connection with, their level of commitment to and involvement in the contact center, as well as the organisation beyond.
So, how can this be done? Here are some examples of activities that may tighten a new recruit’s bond with the contact center, which can be included in the orientation plan.
1. A Defined Mentor
Assign a personal mentor out of the contact center, with extensive tenure and high motivation. Such a mentor can be a very significant figure for a new advisor.
An assigned mentor – buddy – is the address for informal information in the organisation. A buddy is someone who can follow-up on the integration of the advisor in the contact center and also be there on a more personal level.
Also, first and foremost, buddies should be accessible to new advisors, who should feel comfortable to raise doubts, questions and concerns to them.
A mentor must also provide advisors with a personal response and share advice and best practises with the new advisors.
2. Satisfaction Surveys
Follow and measure the level of integration and satisfaction of new advisors in the contact center during the orientation plan and the progress thereafter.
Usually, satisfaction surveys are carried out annually and are taken by all an organisation’s employees in such time period. So, marketing, the design team, HR and so on will all complete the same survey, with the same generic questions.
However, the contact center should regularly survey advisors, with the first in the integration period, as advisor surveys at this point will inform you how you can improve the “onboarding process” in the future.
There are a lot of work processes that aren’t always addressed in induction training, in an engaging way at least. This is why it can be a good idea to include gamification in the contact center’s orientation plan.
There are contact centers in which the training process is consistent with the development and progress rate of individual advisors. In others, the process is rigid and doesn’t take into account individual knowledge.
To avoid this, it’s important to integrate track progress, while using gamification processes that help to make the learning easier, more enjoyable and effective.
Gamification, perhaps using an e-learning platform, can help to bring knowledge elements and processes to life, while also developing soft-skills at this early stage of an advisors development.
Motivational games can also be used once advisors have settled into their role.
4. Follow up Meetings Along the Plan
Create regular meetings, according to predetermined intervals, for the entire adjustment period. This helps to examine the integration level of the new advisors in the contact center. These meetings may be held in a group, if you recruited several advisors at the same time, or with individuals.
The follow-up meetings will provide you with information regarding the “onboarding process” and will continue to tighten the process of the advisor’s integration in the contact center and the organisation as a whole.
An orientation plan is a structured organisational tool, which has the end-goal of retaining advisors. Along the way, it achieves other interim purposes, which can strengthen and empower the entire contact center.
But, before you start creating your orientation plan, don’t try and create the full and complex version right way.
Try, slowly, in every recruitment cycle, to integrate more elements, which will make the onboarding process more extensive, comprehensive and one which serves a central need in the management of contact centers – advisor retention.