High agent turnover damages customer experience, reduces productivity, and skyrockets costs. Given the average industry attrition rate of 42 percent, it’s no surprise that retention is a top priority for contact center leaders.
Faced with rising customer expectations and demanding targets, agents are feeling the pressure, and 96 percent admit to feeling acute stress at least once a week. If you want to avoid the repercussions of high turnover, follow our tips for improving agent retention in your call center.
The far-reaching impact of call center turnover affects everything from morale to revenue, limiting organizational growth and taking a chunk out of the bottom line.
Agents are the driving force behind any contact center. If your team is constantly changing, it becomes difficult to maintain the high performance levels necessary to deliver a top-notch customer experience. By reducing turnover, you can save time, money—and your reputation.
Attrition is expensive, with Gartner finding that the average cost of turning over a single rep comes to $14,113. Filling the empty space left by a departing agent means additional expenses for everything from administrative tasks and interviewing to onboarding and training.
With improved retention, you can avoid these costs and instead focus on improving internal performance and building on the strengths of your existing team, creating new opportunities for growth and a bigger profit margin.
When an agent leaves, their replacement may take time to get up to speed, leading to a dip in customer experience. With over 50 percent of customers ready to switch to a competitor after a single negative experience, this is a big problem.
New agents might deliver incorrect answers or be slower to respond, impacting key performance metrics like CSAT, NPS, and first call resolution. By retaining your top agents, you can build an efficient, motivated team with a strong knowledge of your brand and the tools to deliver consistent, high-quality CX.
Hiring a new agent impacts productivity across the entire team, with additional resources allocated to the onboarding process and potential interruptions to established procedures and routines.
Even before the new agent is hired, your team might be spread thin, covering the duties left behind by the previous agent. This adds stress to the workplace, limiting output and performance levels. While this transition period is necessary, it’s not ideal in such a fast-paced industry.
The value of building a committed team can’t be understated. Engagement and loyalty go hand in hand—if you can keep your agents invested in their role, they’re more likely to stick around.
Providing opportunities for internal development is a win-win approach. Your agents get an organization that values them, and you get a loyal team motivated to hit targets and keep customers happy.
Word travels fast. If your contact center gets a name for high agent turnover, that can be hard to shake. This can damage your reputation with both prospective clients and potential new hires.
Prospects will be aware of the negative impact of agent churn on cost, productivity, and CX. They may be wary of entering into any agreement with your company as a result. Job candidates may believe your high turnover rate indicates a hostile working environment and steer clear.
We’ve established the importance of call center agent retention. Now it’s time to explore the steps you can take to retain your agents and reduce turnover.
Retention starts at the beginning of the hiring process. By recruiting the right people, you can reduce the chances of turnover in the long run. Consider all the essential skills, both soft and hard, as well as personality and culture fit.
You can build an ideal employee profile using existing high performers as the basis and seek out candidates that best match these criteria. Apply this approach to the interview process, using role-playing, situational questions, and introductions around the office to determine whether the candidate is a good fit. Focus on quality hiring over quick solutions, and you will improve agent retention.
Misaligned expectations often lead to employee dissatisfaction, increasing the chances of churn. Be straight about the role from the outset, with a clear job description and a full explanation of what’s expected from an agent in your call center. Otherwise, your new recruit can feel overwhelmed or disappointed once they get started.
While the hiring process is the most important time to clarify expectations, you should also use evaluations and performance reviews as opportunities to speak to your existing agents about their role and the associated expectations. For example, if an agent moves from general customer service queries to a more specialized role handling accounts and billing queries, you should clearly define their new duties and the associated expectations.
Agents need to clearly understand how you measure their performance. Make sure your employees know where they stand, what they need to improve, and to whom they are expected to report. To do this, you need to define key performance indicators, ensure that these KPIs are linked to your wider business goals, and establish agent priorities.
Any uncertainty around performance metrics can add to agent stress, increasing the chances of churn and damaging your organization's retention rate.
Two-thirds of workers consider employer-provided upskilling an important factor when considering a new position. By offering regular training opportunities, you can improve productivity and performance while cementing agent loyalty and attracting high-quality candidates to your organization.
However, simply providing training isn’t enough. The training needs to be both engaging and educational to boost morale, improve competency, and reduce churn. Research shows that over half of workers who receive poor training feel pessimistic about their careers.
You can upskill agents and increase their job satisfaction by using various approaches, from fun games and role-playing exercises to expert-led workshops and interactive video content
Encouraging career development within your organization is one of the most important things you can do to limit turnover and improve agent retention. In fact, 94 percent of employees say they would stay longer with a company that was invested in their career development.
You can boost morale and keep your team invested in their work by clearly communicating growth opportunities, making them available to everyone, and actively encouraging agent advancement. Define a path for progression, develop individual career plans, and check in with agents regularly to see if you can offer further support.
Things like mentorship programs or advertising new job openings internally before looking elsewhere can illustrate your commitment to your agents.
Strong agent-supervisor relationships are key to a successful contact center. By cultivating a collaborative environment, you can ensure everyone pulls in the same direction.
Be transparent with your team. Discuss company goals, their individual progress within the organization, potential new projects—anything that keeps them involved in the overall mission can improve engagement.
It’s also important to establish clear processes for giving and receiving feedback. This way, agents know when they are performing and when they might need support, allowing you to step in and correct the course before it leads to churn. Regular, honest feedback will show agents that you are committed to helping them develop and perform at their very best.
Feedback goes both ways, so you need to be open to hearing what your employees think and listening to them. Develop a back-and-forth dynamic where agents know their opinions matter to supervisors and management.
Actively listen to what your employees think about processes and workflows, what they like about your call center, and what they would change. In addition to empowering agents, this provides valuable insights that could be used to improve performance.
Employees who believe they’ll be recognized for strong performance are nearly three times more likely to be engaged in their work, which means they are much less likely to churn.
Be sure to offer rewards and benefits, competitive compensation packages, and appropriate recognition for a job well done. The key is to keep the reward proportional to the achievement and, if possible, personalize it to the employee in question. A pat on the back is very different from extra PTO, and some agents may prefer low-key congratulations to a big announcement in front of the whole team.
Disengaged agents are 84 percent more likely to quit or look for a new job. If your employees find the contact center stressful or the workplace culture negative, they will stay engaged. To avoid this, focus on cultivating a work-life balance and building a supportive environment. Be proactive by investing in the job's social side, offering career development opportunities, and remaining vigilant for signs of burnout.
You could offer remote or hybrid working options, put some money towards renovating the on-site working space, and assemble a social committee to organize regular team-building events.
Anything you can do to make your agents more confident and productive will keep them engaged, increasing your chances of retaining them.
Technology is an integral part of day-to-day operations, so it’s essential that you provide your team with the right tools. Failure to do so may cause frustration, leading to disinterested and disengaged agents.
Integrations, a dynamic knowledge base, and a robust QA platform will enable agents to do a better job, while automation and AI tools like chatbots and conversational analytics can ease the workload and free them up to focus on more complex, rewarding tasks. Be sure to provide adequate training with any new tech and gather feedback from your agents.
Exit interviews can be a great opportunity to gather honest feedback. If an agent is no longer employed by your organization, they may be more willing to share their opinions openly.
Use the exit interview to learn what they liked about your call center, what they didn’t like, and most importantly, why they decided to leave. If you can identify the root cause for their departure, you can use this information to inform future retention strategies and, hopefully, prevent other agents from leaving for the same reason. To get honest feedback, assure the agent that the answers will remain confidential.
Agent turnover is a persistent issue for call centers, with attrition rates in the industry coming in comfortably higher than the U.S. average. This level of churn can lead to lower productivity, higher costs, and a weaker customer experience. With such major issues arising from high turnover, agent retention needs to be a priority for call center management. Thankfully, there are many paths to stronger agent engagement and increased retention rates, from improving the hiring process and investing in training to rewarding top performers and cultivating better company culture.
With Scorebuddy, you can use scorecards to identify agent skill gaps, deliver tailored training programs using an integrated learning management system, and establish collaborative, transparent relationships with personalized dashboards. Request your free 14-day trial now and see how Scorebuddy can boost agent retention.