11 steps to help reduce agent attrition in call centers

Celia Cerdeira

By Celia Cerdeira

0 min read

Woman agent using headsets looking at a computer. In the background a cat and several images with graphs and information help to reduce agent attrition

With higher-than-average employee turnover rates, contact centers are often faced with the inability to fill empty positions.

This can lead to cost inefficiencies and poor team morale.To correct these issues, contact centers are changing the way they operate to better address employee satisfaction. They are streamlining repetitive tasks and providing their agents with engaging work environments and benefits that matter to them.

By shifting your business to support the needs of your agents, you can reduce attrition and even improve the customer’s experience.

What is attrition?

Whenever an employee leaves a company and their position is not immediately filled, it’s called attrition. High attrition rates mean that there are more employees leaving the company than are being hired, which can lead to prolonged hiring processes that cost a significant amount of money.

It’s important to constantly work on improving employee retention rates—especially in a contact center where high turnover is common. By finding ways to reduce employee attrition, you can save money and enhance business performance.

Signs of disengagement in employees.

Employee performance is a big indicator of how invested they are in your company. If their behavior at work has changed (bringing team productivity down, missing deadlines, or not engaging with other employees), it could be a sign that they have begun pulling away and may be considering resignation.

The issue is that when employees have mentally disengaged, they usually can’t be persuaded to stay. It’s important to gather feedback from these individuals so that you can better meet the needs of your remaining employees.

The cost of agent attrition.

Agent attrition has an enormous impact on call centers. The overall cost of losing one call center agent can be anywhere from 90% to 200% of the agent’s salary. With an average turnover rate of 30-45% for call centers, managers must take measures to reduce agent attrition rates and streamline the hiring and onboarding process.

It’s impossible to completely eliminate attrition, but finding ways to reduce employee dissatisfaction can greatly impact the success of your business. This is why we’ve put together a list of 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 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 they’re not learning 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, but they will also be more competent and confident performing their tasks.

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 that 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 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 what they do.

11. Hold exit interviews.

Conducting an exit interview with each person who leaves your company is a crucial step to reducing employee attrition. It allows you to gather employee feedback and understand your agents’ unique challenges. With this information, you can address issues plaguing the work environment and prevent your remaining employees from leaving due to the same struggles.

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 and are equipped with industry-leading call center software tools 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.

2020 Report Talkdesk Contact Center Kpi Benchmarking

Talkdesk contact center KPI benchmarking report


Celia Cerdeira

Celia Cerdeira

Célia Cerdeira has more than 20 years experience in the contact center industry. She imagines, designs, and brings to life the right content for awesome customer journeys. When she's not writing, you can find her chilling on the beach enjoying a freshly squeezed juice and reading a novel by some of her favorite authors.