10 smart practices to lower call center turnover rate

by Andy Nguyen
call center turnover rate

Service agents or sales reps are the driving force behind a call center’s success. Unfortunately, the call center industry is known to face a higher employee turnover than most other industries. 

A high call center turnover rate is when agents leave the company faster than normal, creating a talent shortage. 

It’s difficult to deliver high-quality customer service or drive more sales when operating with fewer agents. And ultimately, a high turnover rate puts a dent in the bottom line of the company.

That’s why call center leaders must identify the root causes behind a high turnover and address them quickly. 

In this article, we’ll share three key factors behind high call center attrition rate and ten smart practices to bring it down. 

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The cost of high call center turnover rate

Call center turnover rate is the percentage of agents leaving the company within a specific time period. It’s usually calculated on a monthly and/or annual basis.

Globally, the average turnover rate in call centers is about 30-40% annually. Some call centers or contact centers can even witness a churn rate of 80-100%. 

So what’s the actual cost of agent turnover?

When facing a high turnover, employers need to quickly fill these vacant positions to maintain the service level requirements. This could be a time-consuming and costly affair. 

According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), the direct cost of replacing a frontline worker could be about 20% of their annual salary

Here are the direct turnover costs incurred when replacing a call center agent:

  • Paying an external recruiter or running an in-house hiring drive. 
  • Higher expenditure on the salary of a new employee, as compared to promoting an existing employee.
  • Expenditure on onboarding, training, and certification of the new hires.
  • Overtime payments for agents putting in extra hours to meet the customer service demands.

The turnover costs go up when replacing an experienced employee with high-value skill sets. 

Besides these direct costs, many indirect costs accompany employee turnover, such as:

  • The loss of business: The call center or contact center may lose out on business due to reduced capacity and poor customer satisfaction.
  • The loss of knowledge: Exiting agents leave with their unique expertise and skills, which may be hard to replace in some cases. 
  • The loss of productivity: Once an agent decides to leave the company, they may lose the motivation to perform at their peak for the rest of their tenure.
  • Agent dissatisfaction: The added burden on the existing employees could add to the dissatisfaction and nudge more employees to leave the company.
  • The loss of trade secrets: Departing employees might carry the company’s inside knowledge to the competitors and impact the business.
  • Negative employer’s image: Poor employee experience can affect the brand’s image as an employer, making it harder to attract top talents.

But what causes an agent exodus?

Let’s find out. 

3 major factors behind a high turnover rate

Here are three primary reasons agents leave a call center more frequently:

1. Poor hiring

A call center or contact centre can often trace a high attrition rate to hiring unsuitable candidates in the first place. 

This happens when you hire a call or contact center agent without assessing your business and human resource needs. 

Call center employees who aren’t suitable for the job would fail to deliver the expected results in the long run. This could lead to a lack of motivation and higher work-related stress. Eventually, it would translate into an involuntary (termination by the employer) or voluntary turnover.

You can easily overcome this issue and lower the attrition rate by developing a hiring and retention strategy.

2. Inadequate training

Many call centers prefer to hire freshers and train them on skills required for the job. This could be a great hiring approach but requires a well-developed training program to back it up.

Without the right training, even the most talented team of agents may not be able to perform at the expected levels. This skill shortage will affect their productivity and confidence, increasing the chances of them resigning.

With a thorough training program, you can build a team high on confidence and skills. It lays a perfect foundation for you to retain them and gradually promote them to higher positions.

3. Lack of engagement

It’s a known fact in the call center industry that customer satisfaction is hard to achieve without agent satisfaction. 

Only motivated and happy employees can consistently deliver a top-notch customer experience.

But call center jobs can be stressful. 

Without a stress-free work environment and a strategy to boost employee satisfaction, you may encounter frequent burnout and disengagement among your staff. It’s a surefire recipe for high employee turnover.

Now that you know the potential causes of a high staff turnover rate, what steps can you take to overcome it?

10 smart practices to lower turnover rate

call center

Let’s explore some proven methods to reduce call center turnover rate:

1. Track employee turnover

To address the high turnover problem at your call center, you should first know that such a problem exists. 

A call or contact center that does not track its turnover rate often realizes the problem when it’s too late.

Measuring the call center turnover rate and generating detailed turnover reports can help you see the larger picture about:

  • How many employees have left the call center? 
  • Why did they leave?
  • A recurrent pattern in employees leaving the call center.

Here’s the formula to calculate the turnover rate at your call center:

Annual turnover rate = [Number of employees who left during the year/ Total number of employees at the beginning of the year] x 100

Tracking the metric will help you catch high employee attrition quickly and take timely and informed decisions to tackle it.

2. Understand why agents are leaving

The turnover reports should mention the reason why an employee leaves the company. 

For this, you’ll need to conduct exit interviews for each employee and take thorough feedback on their experience working with the company and the reason for leaving.

These exit interviews will give you crucial insights into your staff’s mood, daily operations, and managerial issues within the company. 

You can either conduct one-on-one sessions or ask exiting employees to fill a survey questionnaire. But in any case, do not shy away from asking tough questions to get honest feedback from the employee.

Additionally, encourage the departing employee to ask questions they might have refrained from asking during their tenure. 

3. Promote healthy management style

One of the most common reasons for call center agents to leave the job is poor management. An employee leaving the organization to get away from a manager is an avoidable loss that can be fixed with simple measures. 

A call center manager or supervisor engages with the agent daily. So they must get trained on developing a leadership style that promotes trust, growth, and accountability among the agents — rather than fear.

You can set up an in-house management training program to groom your managers and teach them essential skills like conflict resolution, empathy, etc.   

4. Plan your hiring

Developing a recruitment plan is key to hiring the right candidates for your call center needs.

Here are a few practical tips to improve your hiring process:

  • Start by defining your ideal agent after considering your business goals, company culture, and required skill sets.
  • Post job notices on platforms (job portals, boards, and social media sites) where you are most likely to find the talent with the needed skills. 
  • Develop specific assessment modules to test the candidates on technical knowledge, communication, and other soft skills.
  • Craft an accurate job description that specifies responsibilities, salary benefits, and job perks. This helps set realistic expectations for both the employer and the employee.
  • Actively market your strengths to boost your employer’s image and attract top talents. You may include your engagement policies or career benefits of working with your company.
  • Involve your current employees in the hiring process since they know the job inside out. You can take their help in assessing the candidates or ask them to refer suitable candidates.
  • Create a solid orientation program to welcome new hires and introduce them to the company.

5. Develop an employee retention strategy

Besides a well-planned hiring strategy, employers must also focus on an agent retention plan to keep their employees longer.

Employees are more likely to quit a company when they don’t see any growth and career advancement opportunities.

It’s a good practice to create a well-defined and realistic career path for your agents, as well as a plan to guide them along the way. This plan should include a timeline for career milestones and the criteria for promotion and appraisals. 

Having an achievable goal in sight will keep your staff motivated and performing at their peak. 

However, you’ll need to track agent performance KPIs and nudge them regularly to improve their performance to implement this successfully.

6. Invest in agent training

For employees to stay with your company for a long time, it’s essential they feel competent and valued. Good coaching can help instill these feelings in your staff.

A well-developed training program helps your team stay updated on the latest technology and deliver high-quality service experiences.

Follow the tips below to develop a thorough call center training program:

  • Plan and schedule agent training in advance to know the exact timeline from training to the call center floor.
  • Implement a flexible program that allows new agents to learn from anywhere and any time.
  • Prioritize hands-on training approaches like video tutorials and mock calls. It helps prepare the agents for real-world scenarios they may face when interacting with the customers. 
  • Focus on progressive training to help your staff learn new methods and technology.
  • Track agents’ performance during training and give them constructive feedback on areas they can improve on. 

For more tips, check out this detailed call center training guide.

7. Empower your employees

A smooth working structure at the call center is essential for the agents to work to their best abilities.

Outdated technology and equipment can affect daily operations at the call center.
For example, an inefficient CRM (customer relationship management) tool can cause delays in fetching the customer data for the agents during live calls, resulting in a poor customer experience. 

Such problems could hamper agent efficiency, increase stress, and make them feel demotivated. If these issues aren’t resolved quickly, agents may feel disengaged and may consider quitting the job.

Call centers leaders should aim to deploy efficient call center technology and systems to empower their agents to excel at their job.

For example, powerful scripting software can guide the agent throughout the call and help them easily troubleshoot even the most complex issues. 

Similarly, agent self-service portals provide a quick and efficient way to manage shifts timings, overtime and leave requests, etc., without engaging the manager every time.

8. Prioritize agent engagement

Engaging employees in meaningful ways will make them feel valued and nurtured. It also promotes a sense of job satisfaction and belonging in the organization, which is crucial for the longevity of their tenure.

Let’s explore some tips to develop a solid employee engagement program:

  • Build an inclusive company culture that focuses on trust, collaboration, and healthy growth.
  • Avoid putting undue pressure on your agents by measuring unnecessary performance metrics.
  • Give them flexible work options like remote shifts, especially in the Covid 19 pandemic scenario.
  • Set up an employee recognition and reward program to acknowledge excellent work. It’s a great way to boost employee morale.
  • Avoid the silo approach and keep the communication between agents and the higher management open. 
  • Promote fun activities like informal outings and game nights to promote team bonding.

9. Outsource your staffing needs

A great way to minimize the impact of turnover is to use an alternate staffing approach. You can outsource your workforce needs to a third-party staffing solution. 

Such staffing agencies are well-equipped to hire, train, and manage your staff. You can even outsource the payroll function to them.

By outsourcing your staffing needs, you won’t need to worry about any staffing-related issues, let alone a high turnover rate. Instead, you can focus all your efforts and resources on growing your business.

For more information, read our guide on recruitment process outsourcing.

10. Use virtual agents

Hiring AI-based virtual agents is yet another smart and future-proof way to address high staff turnover at your call center.

A virtual agent is a software tool that can perform many of the same functions as live agents. You can use such tools to assist your regular staff. It can handle basic and routine tasks so that your live agents can focus on more important ones.

With their ability to automate tasks and perform batch operations, these tools allow you to operate with a limited high-performing staff, minimizing the risk of high agent attrition.

Final thoughts

Given the importance of customer engagement for modern businesses, a high employee turnover rate could be a nightmare for any call center or contact center.

It not only shrinks your profits but affects the overall call center performance in many indirect ways.

Use the tips shared in this article to overcome the high attrition or churn rate at your call center and build a high-performing team.

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