Top Reasons for Call Center Turnover and How to Reduce It call center turnover

Top Reasons for Call Center Turnover and How to Reduce It

It’s no secret that delivering outstanding customer experience (CX) and employee experience (CX) are intrinsically linked. Yet contact centers continue to struggle with staffing shortages and high agent turnover rates. According to a recent Deloitte Digital survey, 63% of contact center leaders are facing staffing shortages and are having to get more creative and proactive when it comes to finding, hiring, and retaining agents.

For contact center leaders, these statistics pose a real challenge: How do you deliver outstanding customer service and quality management when you have high call center turnover and staffing shortages? 

It’s imperative you make reducing call center turnover a strategic priority. It’s likely you have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place for the customer experience. However, by focusing on the employee experience as an equally important KPI, you’ll boost agent productively and call center profitability—and the CX will follow. 

Read on for ways to reduce call center turnover and boost employee retention and EX. But before we discuss ways to lower your turnover rate, let’s explore the reasons for churn, the average turnover rate, and how it’s calculated.

What’s the Average Turnover Rate for a Call Center?

Depending on which report or research you review, average call center turnover rates hover in the 30-40 percent range, with some research pointing to as high as 60 percent. And sadly, these rates are on the rise, not on the decline. 

Simply stated, the call center turnover rate is the percentage of employees that leave each year. This differs from the call center attrition rate, which is defined as when an agent leaves the organization, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and the company does not hire a replacement. 

The key difference is that often, employee attrition is the result of a downturn in the economy or company revenue. But with call center turnover, there are opportunities to improve it once you understand the root causes and put in place improvement strategies. 

How to Calculate Call Center Turnover

Hopefully your call center turnover rate is better than the industry average. As contact center leaders, it’s important to calculate, understand, and benchmark this rate. But what’s more important is understanding the reasons behind the rate and formulating a plan to improve it. 

You calculate the call center turnover rate by dividing the number of those who leave by the total number of staff, expressed as a percentage.

For example, if you have 100 contact center agents and 25 leave over the year, the turnover rate is 25%. It can be useful to further break down the employee turnover rate by team, call type, and performance level.

Why Are Call Center Turnover Rates So High? 

Employee turnover is not a new topic for many contact center leaders. In fact, while many aspects of the agent’s job have improved—better tools, remote or hybrid work opportunities, omnichannel support options—the fact remains there’s still call center industry turnover. Why? 

Several key factors or a combination play a role in employees leaving.

  1. Lack of empowerment 
  2. Stressful work and burnout
  3. Lack of recognition
  4. Lack of proper training
  5. Limited growth opportunities
  6. Inflexible work environment
  7. Poor company culture
  8. Low pay
  9. Isolation and lack of collaboration opportunities

The Downside of High Call Center Turnover

High agent turnover leads to reduced customer satisfaction rates, lower first-contact resolution rates, a disengaged culture, and many other issues

The Hard Costs of Call Center Employee Turnover

High call center turnover rates are heavy on the wallet. Between hiring, training, benefits, and salaries, it is estimated that up to a quarter of annual staff expenses can go down the drain and negatively impact call center operations.

The Soft Costs of Call Center Employee Turnover

Higher direct costs aren’t the only side effect of high call center turnover. Your customers also feel the difference. Maintaining top-notch quality service is hard if your staff doesn’t have the time to develop and perfect their skills.

Bottom line: Losing agents equates to real costs, hurts the customer, and leads to poor customer experiences, lost revenue, and higher churn. So it’s extremely worthwhile for call center leaders to focus on stopping the hurt and reducing the burden on agents.

Here are several methods to effectively retain call center staff and reduce call center agent turnover rates.

How To Improve Turnover in a Contact Center

1. Create a Strong Company Culture

Your company culture sets the tone for how employees communicate and engage within the organization, are aligned with business goals, feel valued, see opportunities for growth, and whether the job achieves the desired work-life balance.

Make your organization a place where potential candidates and staff want to work. Take proactive measures to reinforce a culture that promotes growth and empowerment, then talk about training, collaboration, and career development opportunities. Embrace employee listening and ask them to share ways to increase employee satisfaction.But it goes beyond the talk to making sure you’re walking the walk. Are you providing actionable coaching and feedback? Do agents feel valued and understand growth opportunities? Are they supported with the right technology and tools to support an omnichannel customer service organization?

2. Define Your Ideal Employee Profile

The entire hiring process and onboarding process can be a costly expense. The higher your call center turnover, the more you’ll have to recruit.

If you have an established, well-defined company culture, it becomes easier to outline the ideal profile of exemplary current employees.

Retention begins from the core. Know your best employee profile and where to look for them. Consider the candidate’s personality and cultural fit within your company and skills for the job.

Also, take the time to define the ideal traits you are looking for in your employees and map out the right interview strategy to spot these traits.

A lot can be observed from a thorough job interview. So-called “behavioral interviews” can often be the most effective way to uncover personality traits.

For example, if you ask an agent applicant to describe a specific situation in which they have had to deal with a difficult customer or co-worker, how they handled it, and how it turned out, you can often gain valuable insights into how they react to stress or conflict.

Be clear about the job description and expectations. You want to address all agent concerns and don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or disappointed once they begin. It’s best if they know what to expect.

3. Use the Right Training Methods

If you’re not yet providing consistent training, real-time feedback, and coaching for your employees, it’s time to get on board—both for onboarding and continued development for existing agents. Not only will your customers reap the benefits of better customer service, but there are a number of reasons why a robust training program can help reduce call center turnover.

  1. Proper training boosts agent engagement—they feel more competent and are less likely to quit.
  2. Providing ongoing training develops your team professionally and personally, making them feel more fulfilled at work. 
  3. Happy employees who feel competent in their jobs are more likely to stay with your organization.

So, how do you go about training your staff? Delivering standard classroom training doesn’t cut it anymore. In order to keep your staff engaged, your training methods should range from team building, on-the-job training, coaching, role playing, and engaging multimedia content.

Using several training and onboarding methods will not only keep your staff informed but will also help them better absorb the information and apply it to their day-to-day work.

4. Put the Right Tools in Place

Interaction complexity, confusing processes, and a lack of support all contribute to unsustainable levels of stress. Make it a priority to put in place the right tools to enable employee success. This means having good leaders, effective software tools, and clear processes in place.

AI-powered technology for the modern contact centers helps to:

  • Automate and simplify processes and provide real-time decision-making support for agents to troubleshoot and resolve issues. Automation can help agents handle repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more productive or complex support calls, improving employee engagement, and increasing satisfaction. 
  • Help handle increased customer demand, shorten call time, improve workflows, and reduce the burden on customer service agents.

5. Reward Good Behavior

Positive affirmation, rewards, and recognition lets employees know what they should do more. Instead of bringing attention to poor performance, focus instead on highlighting and rewarding instances of outstanding performance, attitude, and leadership. 

Fostering a culture of positive reinforcement and employee recognition is a great way to keep positive morale in the workplace.

You can choose to reward good behavior and boost employee morale through financial rewards such as bonuses or gift cards, or offer non-monetary prizes such as days off, shorter work hours, food, or even assigning them to the shift or assignment of their choice. But don’t forget the power of a good old-fashioned recognition program, which includes verbal and written praise from managers and peers for a job well done. 

6. Set a Growth Path

We all strive to grow and improve ourselves–both personally and professionally. Contact centers are often an entry point for employees looking to join a company. However, employees will start looking elsewhere if they don’t see a clear career path forward. 

Show them clear paths and steps to help them advance their careers. Set milestones and have regular check-ins on their agent performance and goals.

McKinsey found that promotional opportunities make up 14 percent of call center employees’ job satisfaction, second only to compensation. Therefore, it’s worthwhile for team leaders to provide promotional opportunities that will not only help reduce agent churn but also motivate employees to reach the next level, whether it means a bigger salary or greater responsibility.

7. Make Scheduling Improvements

Scheduling is an ongoing challenge in call centers and is directly tied to work-life balance and company culture. If you have too few agents, everyone is under stress to work quickly while your customers wait in queues—a no-win combination.

Invest in contact center software and solutions that make capacity planning, forecasting, employee scheduling, and intraday planning easy, accurate, and far less time-consuming. 

8. Hold An Exit Interview

While some attrition is inevitable, exit interviews provide essential insights from departing agents on what’s impacting employee retention. Employees no longer committed to your contact center are more likely to share their thoughts about their workplace experience. 

Take advantage of this moment by asking them to describe their experience, understand agent job dissatisfaction, and what could have been done better on both sides. Use these insights to develop targeted employee retention strategies.

9. Create a Shared Customer Experience Focus

Most employees want more than a job; they want a shared focus and purpose. 

It sounds simple, but having a customer-centric organization is one of the biggest factors for agent retention. When employees understand and rally around the company’s customer-focused mission, values, and service principles, it helps give meaning to their jobs and feel like they are part of a team. 

Work your CX focus into meetings, training programs, and incentives to motivate agents. When they feel part of a community working towards a meaningful goal, turnover decreases, agent satisfaction improves, and customer loyalty increases.

For more ways to lower your call center turnover rates and boost agent morale, download our eBook: Focus on Agent Retention in Tight Times.

Top Reasons for Call Center Turnover and How to Reduce It call center turnover
Playvox Team

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