Agent attrition has an enormous impact on call centers. The estimated cost for losing one call center agent is approximately $100,000 (James, 1998). With an average turnover rate of 30% for call centers (Stuller, 1999), managers must take preemptive measures to reduce agent attrition rates. The success of your company may depend on it.
Below are 10 steps to help reduce call center agent attrition:
1. Optimize recruiting and hiring
Reducing agent attrition starts with hiring the right agents for your team. You can increase the quality of your applicants by implementing a referral program as well as allowing agents to work from home. When hiring, consider personality, communication skills, cultural fit, team-oriented attitudes and the skills of the applicant. Be sure to clearly define job roles, common tasks and performance expectations so your applicant will know what is expected of them, and can opt out of the job if it is not a good fit. These tips will go a long way in ensuring you hire the right agents for the job and that they stay with your company for the long haul.
2. Enhance training programs
Call center managers know that some agents need more training than others. However, by skipping or shortening the training period, you could be omitting very useful experiences for the agent that can result in feelings of exclusion, inadequacy and disorganization, which ultimately will result in the agent leaving your company. It is therefore important that each agent goes through the same training period so they can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, become acculturated to the company’s values, and cultivate relationships with colleagues. This training period will enhance team collaboration and bonding, both of which will contribute to the agent feeling as if they are a vital member of the team.
3. Enhance customer satisfaction focused monitoring
The most effective call center agents are typically the ones that make a personalized connection with their callers and derive the most satisfaction from their job. It is therefore essential that customer centric metrics such as contact quality, customer satisfaction and first contact resolution are monitored and enhanced and that quantitative metrics such as average handle time or calls per hour are not overvalued. This will significantly reduce stress in the call center and increase the length of time that the agent stays with your company.
4. Establish clear communication channels
It is important that call center agents have clearly defined expectations, that they receive feedback based on these expectations and that they know who to talk with when they have an issue or concern. Agents should also be involved in business decisions, informed about company goals and strategies and be polled about their experience working in the company. Agents can be a key source of new ideas and can drive new changes, if they are fully involved in the process and their voices are heard. Establishing clear communication channels and including agents in decision making processes will make them feel more empowered and more invested in your company.
5. Enhance recognition and rewards programs
Managers should go to great lengths to ensure that each agent receives feedback that is directly tied to their performance and that they receive rewards when they meet key milestones or performance metrics. They should also implement peer recognition and rewards programs. This will enhance an agent’s motivation and will help to build collective moral and engagement with their work
6. Coaching culture
Management teams should embrace a coaching culture and encourage collaboration amongst call center agents. Agents who are coached with constructive feedback, provided with valuable insights and given personal attention are more effective and are also more likely to enjoy their work. Also, when agents can rely on their colleagues for support and guidance, they will be more likely to feel like they are a part of the team and will stay with the company longer.
7. Provide skill development programs
Call center agents who feel their on the job skill-set is stagnant are more likely to disengage with their work and are more prone to leaving. Increase job satisfaction and performance with opportunities for agents to learn new skills and new technologies. Not only will they stay with your team longer, they will be more competent and confident performing their work-related duties.
8. Offer continuous opportunities for promotion
Most open positions within call centers are filled by promoting internal candidates. Use this as an incentive for agents to work harder at their job and be sure to promote top performers. Agents who feel that excellence leads to career progress and better opportunities will be more engaged with their work and your company.
9. Provide excellent software and tools
Teams that use progressive call center software and applications are more effective and efficient than those who do not. By giving your agents software that is easy to learn and use, they can start working sooner and be better at what they do. This will also increase the agent’s satisfaction with their work and the likelihood that they will stay with your company longer.
10. Improve work conditions
By allowing agents the opportunity to work from home, on a flexible schedule, or in an office with an ergonomic workspace, they will be more satisfied with their work and more likely to achieve a healthy work-life balance. It is important to improve working conditions as much as possible so that each agent loves coming to work and loves what they do.
Remember: It’s Not Only About Agents
A strong focus on agent satisfaction not only avoids significant costs, it is also critical to running an excellent call center operation. Motivated agents that enjoy their work are more likely to increase customer satisfaction and contribute to the achievement of the company’s goals. Oftentimes, they are the face of your company, so why not employ an awesome team of call center agents who loves what they do. The success of your company may depend on it.