Why Contact Center Agents Leave and How to Keep Them contact center agent turnover

Why Contact Center Agents Leave and How to Keep Them

Contact center agent turnover rates across the industry continue to clock in between 30 and 45 percent annually, with no signs of improvement. For businesses, this revolving door creates significant efficiency, productivity, and financial challenges, not to mention the day-to-day impact on morale. 

The simple fact is that hiring and training new agents costs more than maintaining existing staff. Investing in retaining these critical team members is essential to staying the course, but it can be hard to know where to start. 

Taking the time to learn more about your employee turnover rate is the very first step in creating strategies that will reduce agent churn and keep the team satisfied and productive. 

Why Contact Center Agents Leave and How to Keep Them contact center agent turnover

Understand Why Agents Leave

A high contact center attrition rate is a costly problem for many businesses, and it stands to reason that team leaders must immediately find ways to keep these valuable employees happy. Before rushing to put solutions and strategies in place, it is important to take the time to understand what’s behind the attrition rate. Many reasons could be at play. Consider these five common factors: 

1. Burnout and Stress 

Many call centers handle a high volume of calls, requiring agents to work at a stressful pace. For organizations that expect agents to use many different systems, this can add to the challenge and feeling of chaos. Also, it’s a well-known fact that contact center agents are often subject to disgruntled, difficult, and sometimes downright angry customers. These situations can quickly lead to poor performance, stress, and burnout. 

2. Limited Opportunity for Advancement 

With a limited scope of responsibility and activity, contact center agents may feel that there is no room for advancement. Add to this the repetitive nature of the job and, understandably, agents and help desk staff may sometimes feel less than compelled to strive for excellence. 

3. Inadequate Training 

Contact center agents are on the front lines of customer experience. They are trusted with representing your company’s brand and reputation. Therefore proper training on customer support systems, messaging, resolution process, and more should be thorough. But when agents don’t receive enough training and are not set up to succeed, frustration can lead to resignation.

4. Lack of Authority

Most contact center employees are given strict boundaries around their capacity to solve customer issues. Without the freedom or authority to be creative to help resolve problems, they often must relinquish more difficult challenges to others. This scenario can understandably lead agents to feel that they are not valuable team members. 

5. Low Pay and Recognition

It is easy for agents in a contact center to feel disconnected from the rest of the business and therefore under appreciated. This, coupled with low wages and earning potential, can lead to low motivation, morale, and a high likelihood of leaving. 

Identify Areas of Opportunity

In order to determine the specific reasons for contact center agent turnover in your organization, it is important to measure your customer service metrics and do some investigation. One of the best ways to identify the reasons for a high attrition rate is to conduct exit interviews, where specific questions are asked about their experiences. Employees are often very candid in their parting comments. Work with the Human Resources team to record given reasons and look for patterns. 

Surveying team members regularly, can also help to pinpoint potential pitfalls in real-time. Consider sending out short online feedback forms regularly. Remember that it is human nature to report only on extremes (both positive and negative). When things are relatively fine, feedback may be minimal. 

Ultimately, no matter how you gather input, be mindful that data-driven results make for a strong foundation. Analyzing the information helps determine whether there are common themes and specifics that need to be addressed. 

Keeping Agents Engaged

Fully tuning into the agent experience helps to recognize the signs of disengagement. Missing more shifts, lower than usual performance, and less overall interaction with team members are just a few of the early indicators that agents might be on their way out. 

Understanding the challenges and getting ahead of them creates a platform for improvement and a path toward keeping agents engaged. When adding programs and processes, transparency, communication, and regular connection are important. This helps contact center leaders keep a constant pulse on agent morale while simultaneously gathering useful real-time feedback that you can transform into new opportunities that improve employee experience and satisfaction. 

Strategies for Success

Finding the right ways to improve the agent experience should address the unique and specific challenges at hand. However,  some universal strategies are likely to improve your ability to retain contact center employees and increase customer satisfaction. For example, it is widely acknowledged that paying contact  center employees more than industry average rates will go a long way toward keeping staff happy and motivated. Additionally, consider these ideas: 

Improve your Training Programs

From the outset, be thorough before putting your agents on the phone. Training should include not only product details, but also additional resources, call expectations, and escalation process. Ongoing training, mentorship, and coaching will provide essential insights and keep a tight connection that will increase agent performance and service quality.

Empower your Agents 

By giving your staff as much autonomy as possible, you will build their confidence so that they know that they can handle any situation. Consider the possibilities and allow your customer service center agents to make certain decisions without the approval of management. 

Celebrate Progress and Achievements 

Early on, set clear goals with milestones along the way. A recognition program that rewards center staff for achieving those goals can deliver the positive reinforcement needed to help keep the momentum going. 

Be Flexible 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many agents prefer to work from home. Additionally, work schedules are very important. The ability to choose and/or switch schedules to meet specific or timely needs can be a game changer. If it is possible to be more flexible in these areas, new and experienced agents alike will feel more satisfied with an improved work-life balance. 

Provide the Right Tools for the Job

Invest in software systems and platforms that make customer service easier and more successful. Review your technology strategy, and don’t overload agents with too many solutions. Keep it simple and positive. Consider new AI-powered tools that complement the role of the live agent. 

Stemming the Tide: Reducing Your Contact Center Turnover Rate While Gaining Productivity at Lower Costs

Finding ways to boost agent engagement and retention is not an easy task, but it is a crucial part of keeping quality of service high and costs under control. Creating a more positive and empowering environment for the help desk results in meaningful efficiency gains and reduces unnecessary friction. Spending less time on the hiring process and onboarding new agents frees you up to focus on providing your current staff with mentoring, advanced training, and career development opportunities. When agents feel more valued and fulfilled, a better customer experience will follow.

To learn more about reducing customer support center burnout and creating renewed energy and ambition, download our ebook today.

Why Contact Center Agents Leave and How to Keep Them contact center agent turnover
Chrissy Calabrese

Chrissy Calabrese is a Vice President of Product Marketing at Playvox. She is an accomplished thought leader and evangelist in the contact center and customer experience space. She is passionate about quality and analytics, focusing on how to ultimately drive better experiences for employees and customers. She has over twenty years of experience in the customer experience and workforce optimization market, across product marketing, product management, sales enablement, client services, customer experience, quality, compliance and program management. She resides outside of Philadelphia, has three children, and spends a lot of her personal time on a soccer field.

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