Difficult shifts, customers, and targets often result in high agent attrition rates
Contact centers have traditionally witnessed higher-than-average attrition rates compared to other industries. Difficult shifts, problematic customers, and a culture of measuring and monitoring add to the pressure that contact center agents face daily.
A 2021 Five9 survey found that the average attrition rate was 58 percent, mainly due to increased workloads and lack of career advancement opportunities. Such figures are eye-watering and showcase the extent of the issue. Fortunately, some simple strategies can help contact centers quell the problem.
One of the primary causes of high attrition rates is employing applicants who are not a good match. Frequently, candidates are swiftly chosen and employed due to the immediate necessity to fill vacancies. As such, recruits do not get appropriate information throughout the recruiting process to experience the true nature of the work and determine if it is a good fit for them.
The most effective technique to address mismatched expectations is to provide the applicant with a realistic job preview, commonly referred to as a job simulation. A realistic job preview enables the applicant to try out the job and confront some of the crucial scenarios they will face on a daily basis. Doing so will prove particularly effective for companies with high new employee attrition rates.
As the old adage goes: “Employees do not quit firms; they leave their bosses.” Despite being a little simplistic, this does have some value. Bosses/leaders have a huge effect on employee job satisfaction. In an industry where many supervisors are promoted thanks to their ability as agents, it is critical to nurture them to become effective managers.
Additionally, rather than focusing only on quantitative measurements, it is critical to prioritize client-centric metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT), quality scores, and first contact resolution (FCR). Prioritizing KPIs such as average handling time (AHT) or others like calls per hour might result in agent stress and decreased work satisfaction.
Managers should make every effort to ensure that agents get feedback directly related to their performance. Consistent feedback enables workers to keep track of their accomplishments. They may then assess their progress and identify areas for improvement. It promotes agent motivation and satisfaction, ensuring that agents remain focused on their objectives.
It is also good practice for agents to be rewarded for meeting important performance milestones or indicators. Recognizing workers’ accomplishments is equally critical as providing frequent feedback in reducing agent attrition rates. When workers go the extra mile in their customer service efforts, managers and supervisors should publicly recognize them. This can either happen face-to-face or via an online social recognition system.
Another factor contributing to high attrition rates is a lack of growth opportunities. If an agent has potential, companies should train them for a supervisor role or a position within another department that interests them.
After all, few people dream of being call center agents. Yet, the role can work well as a stepping stone into new career pathways, from the traditional route of agent to coach to team leader, or auxiliary roles in resource management, finance, and HR.
As such, it is critical to fill a portion of these vacancies via internal rearrangements. Doing so provides workers with the assurance that they have an opportunity for advancement with hard work and sustained performance.
Contact centers must offer training on a consistent and timely basis. Ideally, coaches will tailor this training to the individual, tracking quality scores to highlight areas for improvement, alongside opportunities to praise excellent performance.
Yet, it is also helpful to consider how different agents learn best. For example, particular individuals will thrive in a visual setting, while others prefer lecture-based education. Some enjoy more variety. By customizing training materials to accommodate a range of different learning styles, the contact center can improve the learning pathway for each employee and increase engagement.
A company’s culture is one of the top drivers of retention, and many of the best places to work around the world boast a unique and employee-centric culture. There are two elements to this conversation in the context of contact center attrition rates: fun and transparency.
Contact centers are typically high-pressure and fast-paced work environments. Agents must handle problematic callers, urgent deadlines and meet performance targets. Supervisors can alleviate this pressure by introducing a sense of fun through workplace activities, off-site lunches, gamification, and other unconventional ideas.
Also, it is good to open up listening mechanisms and routines to ensure consistent two-way feedback. Doing so ensures that employees not only know what they are doing right/wrong, but it also allows them to share their opinions and thoughts with the leadership.
Conducting exit interviews is one of the most effective ways to curb a high attrition rate. Even if an employee has decided to leave the organization, their views matter. Some would say it matters even more, as exiting agents are likely to be honest with their feedback.
Organizations should track the feedback given in exit interviews and map why agents chose to leave. Doing so is particularly important in cases of avoidable voluntary turnover.
Stay interviews, which perhaps occur not long before seasonal periods where attrition rates are typically high, can also be an effective tool for lowering contact center attrition.
Caring for the team and supporting their well-being is also an excellent way to reduce attrition rates. Discover how to do just that within our article: How to Prioritize Agent Wellbeing in the Hybrid Contact Center