There’s a lot of pressure on you as a manager to foster positive relationships with your agents, build those bonds, and keep your team happy.

Half of your agents quit their jobs at some point in life because of a bad manager. Not only that, managers control 70% of the factors that determine how engaged their employees are. And, 52% of employees who quit said their manager could have prevented them from leaving.

Are you looking for a way to connect with your agents? Further, are you looking for ways to retain your employees?

We’ve got the key to helping you forge meaningful relationships with your agents. The key is coffee… Well not coffee per se, the key is conversation. But coffee can be the vehicle to induce conversation. If you feel comfortable and it’s safe, invite your agents to a local coffee shop. If you’re dealing with a non-coffee drinker (sigh), then get their beverage of choice and take a walk.

And for those who aren’t heading back to the office any time soon, virtual coffee meets are always acceptable as well. Send your agents a gift card so they buy their favorite cup of coffee or ask them for their favorite at-home brew so you can bond over it. Either way the virtual coffee meet should be as fun and engaging as a traditional meet.

Building a relationship with your agents and retaining your employees starts with having important conversations.

But don’t stop the buck at talking. You should have thoughtful and meaningful conversations with each member of your team, so you can take action to improve their experience at work. Take an interest in your team so they can do their best for your customers.

As a manager, one of your main priorities is your agents’ development. Each 1:1 conversation leads to open and honest dialogue which equips you with knowledge of your agents’ personal stories and experiences. That knowledge allows you to build feedback loops – an intricate part of the manager-agent relationship.

If you’ve gotten this far you may be wondering “what should I talk to my agents about?” That’s a great question and why you’re here (hence the title of the article). Bare with me… I’m almost there.

Focus your questions around these 4 themes to retain call center employees:

1. Professional Development

Identify what your agents excel at, what areas of the business they’d like to learn, and how they’d like to grow in their careers

2. Well-Being and Happiness

Check-in on your agents. Gauge their happiness. Not just while they’re on the clock, outside of work as well.

3. Constructive Feedback

Find out what your agents enjoy and dislike about their jobs. Figure out how you can support them as a manager.

4. Company Alignment

Are your agents happy and in sync with your company’s culture, goals, and vision?

Each of the four themes tackles different aspects of your agents’ welfare, showing them that their growth, happiness, and future are important to you as a manager.

Here are 16 practical questions you need to ask your agents if you want to retain employees:

1. What’s your biggest weakness?

Theme: Professional Development

Don’t ask this question to harp on your agents’ weaknesses. Ask so you can help them turn a negative into a positive. Once they identify something they need to work on, you identify a plan to help them work on it.

2. What’s next for you in your career?

Theme: Professional Development

Your agents should always think “what’s next” if they want to grow their careers, so in turn, you should know what they want. Learn what their ultimate goals are, then figure out a way to help your call center employees achieve those goals. You’ll retain them and keep improving your customer experience in the process.

3. What do you wish you were doing more of?

Theme: Professional Development

Work can be a drag for anyonesometimes, but we all have aspects of our jobs we enjoy. Once your agents share the task they enjoy, see if there’s a way to ensure they do more of it. (Hint: there usually is).

4. What career would you choose if you had no concern about money?

Theme: Professional Development

Let’s be honest, all of us have made career choices with money in mind (it’s important stuff). But it doesn’t always mean those choices align with our interests. Take money off the table and find out what truly interests your agents. Then you can tap into their intrinsic motivation.

5. What fictional world or place would you like to visit?

Theme: Well-Being and Happiness

Hogwarts? Westeros? Narnia? Whatever their answer, this question gives you a chance to bond over mutual interest with your agents.

6. What’s your commute like? (Do you drive, take public transit, carpool, etc.)

Theme: Well-Being and Happiness

It’s a simple question, but it gives you insight into what it takes for your agents to make it to work. You never know someone’s story until you ask. This question is especially important as leaders plan out what heading back to work will look like. Your agents’ commutes may have a big impact on their preference to work from home after the pandemic ends.

7. What was the last show you binge-watched?

Theme: Well-Being and Happiness

We all need new shows to watch (stop rewatching The Office and Friends). See if you and your agents have common interests. Or, see if you can swap recommendations for new shows to watch. Learning what your agents like in their free time clues you in on your employees’ personalities, so you can understand their motivations and interests to retain them in the long term.

8. If you could only listen to five albums for the rest of your life what would they be?

Theme: Well-Being and Happiness

Music is one of the easiest ways to get insight into a person. We all have such a great connection to music, their answers might surprise you. See if you and your agents have any favorite albums in common or if you’ve got some new music to check out. You can even start stocking up ideas for fun music to play on the call center floor (or virtually with a Spotify playlist) during Customer Service Week.

9. What are you most excited about at work right now?

Theme: Constructive Feedback

We should all be enthusiastic about work. Hopefully, your agents feel that way about at least one element of their work. Learn what aspects of their jobs they enjoy the most, so you can keep them engaged and happy.

10. Would you like more or less direction from me on your work?

Theme: Constructive Feedback

Everyone works differently. Some people need more direction, some need less. Find out what works best for your agents so you can adjust your style accordingly.

11. What would you like to know about me?

Theme: Constructive Feedback

Flip the script. You’ve been asking your agents questions about themselves. Now give them a chance to learn more about you. This kind of candor builds trust with your team.

12. How can I help you?

Theme: Constructive Feedback

You never know what someone is going through. We all need help. Asking how you can assist might mean more than you know to your agents.

13. Can you count on your coworkers if you have a problem?

Theme: Company Alignment

At the end of the day, you and your agents are a team. You want your agents to look to their left and right and trust the people they’re looking at. And you want them to feel comfortable reaching out for help even if they’re not sitting right next to their desk neighbor. Make sure that’s the case with this question.

14: Do you feel like you’re progressing your career here?

Theme: Company Alignment

The goal should always be to progress. And when your agents can’t progress, they’ll leave. Find out if your agents feel they’re moving towards that goal. If they don’t, how can you help them develop in their careers? Growth and development are crucial factors when trying to retain your rockstar employees.

15. Are there any aspects of our culture you wish you could change?

Theme: Company Alignment

This is a great question to find out whether your agents are comfortable with the culture of your company. If they have recommendations for change, craft a plan to implement or escalate those changes to your leaders.

16. What’s one thing we could change about how our team works together?

Theme: Company Alignment

Put your adult pants on and look in the mirror with this one. Be humble enough to ask your agents for feedback. They may just have some great solutions or ways to streamline how you work. You won’t know until you ask.