How To Avoid Call Center Turnover
If your call center agents are leaving faster than you can replace them, you’re not alone—and it’s not (entirely) your fault.
Amid the Great Resignation, labor shortages and other workforce upheavals, call center turnover is becoming a growing challenge, and is caused by a variety of factors, not all of which are in your control. For example, call center turnover can be caused by:
- excessive stress or workload
- low compensation or recognition
- boredom or monotony in their role
- not being given adequate tools or technology to do their job well
- lack of support from management
- lack of career growth or development opportunities
- too many angry customers
- overall low job satisfaction
However, that doesn’t mean call center turnover is unavoidable. If you’re struggling to retain current employees, there’s a lot you can do to improve overall employee satisfaction and retention. In this article, we’ll walk through how you can identify and address root causes of turnover to improve retention rates long term.
What Is Call Center Turnover?
So what exactly is call center turnover?
Call center turnover occurs when an existing employee leaves—voluntarily or otherwise—and a new employee is hired in their place.
While turnover is inconvenient—as new employees have to be hired and trained to replace previous employees—it’s also expensive and negatively impacts business results.
For one thing, it’s much more expensive to replace an employee than to retain existing ones. Not only do you have to spend the time and resources sourcing, hiring, onboarding and training a new employee, there’s also negative business impact that factors into costs. For example, losing experienced employees negatively impacts KPIs and service levels. In addition, new employees, on average, take about eight months to start fully contributing in their roles.
Focusing on call center turnover can reduce operational costs, as well as improve service levels by retaining experienced agents. But how do you know what areas to focus on?
How To Avoid Call Center Turnover: 8 Effective Strategies
With so many variables affecting call center turnover, it can be difficult to know where to begin. These eight strategies are effective ways to both improve employee retention and reduce turnover.
Improving recruitment and hiring processes
Without effective recruitment and hiring, the problem can start before the job even begins. Did you know that up to 20% of employee turnover tends to happen in the first 45 days of an employee’s new role?
This is often the result of:
- hiring agents who aren’t a good fit for the role
- poor onboarding or training processes
- weak management or team structure
As a result, improving processes to find agents who are good fits for the open roles can help reduce turnover. One way to do this is to create an ideal agent persona, so hiring managers understand what personality traits, skills, temperaments, experiences and values will make someone a good fit for a call center role.
In addition, modern hiring software can allow you to create assessments to analyze which positions potential employees would be a good fit for, or what teams they’d work well with.
Providing comprehensive training and development
As you improve hiring and recruitment processes, you should also review and expand your employee training and development.
Onboarding is a good place to start—without effective onboarding processes, employee turnover will happen fast and continue to be an ongoing problem. But effective training and development goes beyond onboarding. Unfortunately, this is a mistake many call centers make—instead of making training an ongoing part of the agent experience, they front-load it in the onboarding process, and then leave agents languishing without further development, reducing options for career growth and creating boredom among agents.
Consider that the majority of call center agents—62%—say they need more skills-based training to do their jobs well. Not only does ongoing training allow agents to grow their careers and feel more satisfied in their jobs (thus reducing turnover), but it also allows them to provide better service and perform their duties more efficiently and effectively.
Creating a positive and supportive work environment
In many cases, who you work with can be more important than the work itself. As you consider the root causes of turnover at your call center, evaluate your team structure, affinity and camaraderie—among both team members and management.
According to survey results from BenchmarkPortal, around 34% of agents cite poor management as a reason for leaving. Although it can be difficult to determine, there are a number of ways to evaluate your agents’ experience of their work environment. For example, you might consider:
- evaluating if there’s a common role, team or manager that has a high turnover rate among agents. What is it about that common thread that could be contributing to turnover?
- running an (anonymous) employee satisfaction survey that allows you to hear directly from employees about their experience.
- investing in further support of work-life balance and improved benefits for employees.
Ultimately, you’ll have to consider the culture of your company and how that can be improved. How do you support your employees, both in terms of overall vision and practically? Do employees have a say in their working environment? Are teams collaborative and supportive? Are employees supported when they have a concern or a need? These can all be indicators of how to improve the workplace environment to reduce attrition and turnover.
Offering competitive compensation and benefits
In addition to a positive work environment, supporting employees financially—through competitive compensation and benefits—is a key factor in reducing employee turnover.
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Remember that the cost of replacing an employee is shown to cost up to 300% of that employee’s salary. With that in mind—it’s much more cost-effective to give employees regular raises and fair benefits than it is to continually be replacing them.
Benefits can come in all shapes and sizes–from generous vacation and time off plans, to bonuses tied to KPIs and performance, remote working options, flexible schedules, training and development budgets, and more. The key is understanding what will actually motivate your agents and support them in their roles.
If you’re finding it difficult to offer competitive compensation among your call center employees, you may want to consider bringing in an outsourcing team to support your internal staff. With fewer internal employees and affordable outsourcing options, you can stretch your budget further—enabling you to pay all employees a competitive wage for their location and staffing an appropriate number of employees to adequately manage call volume and workload.
Regularly monitoring employee satisfaction and retention metrics
You likely monitor customer metrics regularly—keeping an eye on customer satisfaction, purchase frequency, retention and more. But are you actively measuring relevant employee metrics as well?
We’re not talking about employee performance metrics, although those are, of course, important. We’re talking about metrics like:
- employee satisfaction
- employee retention and turnover rates
- employee attrition rates (the percentage of employees that leave but aren’t replaced)
By regularly monitoring these employee metrics, you can spot negative trends before they become a problem, and work actively with employees to make your call center a great place to work.
Encouraging open communication and collaboration
Feedback is a two-way street: just as you should provide feedback and training to your employees, you’ll also want to collect feedback from them. Open communication lines between employees and management teams can help you identify why turnover is happening.
Of course, you’ll need to actually action this feedback for it to be effective—not just for improvement, but also for employee satisfaction. If employees are regularly asked to provide feedback, but it’s never actioned or acknowledged, employees will feel demoralized and understand that you’re not really interested in their experiences—in turn creating high turnover rates.
In addition, you should also work to create an environment of communication and collaboration among employees and across teams as well. When agents are able to collaborate and work together, they tend to feel more supported in their roles, which drives loyalty.
While there are many ways to encourage this, one of the most effective is to have more experienced agents contribute to or lead training sessions for newer agents. Leveraging high-performing agents’ skills, experiences and best practices not only recognizes high-performing employees, but encourages collaboration between employees to share best practices and ask for help regularly.
Recognizing and rewarding employee achievements
Rewarding and recognizing achievements and quality performance from employees is another area that, when neglected, contributes to employee turnover. When employees feel unnoticed in their work and achievements, it decreases employee satisfaction and engagement, leading to burnout, lower performance and eventually, attrition.
Instead, reward the work you want to see in agents. By giving employees regular public recognition in the company, as well as tangible rewards and bonuses related to KPIs and performance, you’ll be able to promote better performance and engagement.
Be sure to tie the rewards to KPIs and performance that the agent can actually control—otherwise, the rewards will be demotivating and have the opposite effect.
For example, rewarding employees on the basis of average time in queue may motivate employees to work faster and more efficiently on their calls, but time in queue can also be largely dependent on call volume and call routing capabilities—neither of which are controllable by agents. Instead, connect rewards to KPIs like post-call CSAT scores (by agent), AHT, per-agent FCR rates, or other similar metrics.
Offering growth and advancement opportunities
Finally, consider how you can offer stronger growth, development and advancement opportunities for your agents.
At one point, a call center was merely a stepping stone for a career somewhere else, and many would have considered it a “dead-end” role. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth: a call center role is an entrance to a career in CX and a viable place to develop a long-term career path.
As a result, call centers who don’t provide opportunities for growth and development will struggle with high turnover rates as agents move on to other call centers who will support their development and career growth. Finding ways to create long-term career paths for employees will go a long way toward reducing attrition and turnover rates, especially when you consider that 34% of call center agents cite “no clear career path” as a motive for leaving their jobs.
If your call center provides a clear career path, don’t neglect growth and development stages along the way, for example:
- providing cross-training for agents to get experience in other call center or CX roles
- offering opportunities for training and advancement that agents can implement on their own
- charting clear courses forward for growth and promotions during review periods
- providing actionable feedback for employees to learn and grow their skills
- working with employees to create opportunities for growth or training in areas of interest
Tools for Addressing Call Center Turnover
As you implement the above strategies, call centers may also need to upgrade tooling or use existing tools in new ways to support call center turnover efforts. Here are four tools to consider adding to your toolkit:
Employee Feedback and Engagement Surveys
As discussed above, employee feedback and engagement surveys should be used regularly to gauge employee sentiment, feedback, engagement and metrics. There are a variety of tools that can help you create, distribute and analyze results from employee surveys, but Google Forms and Typeform are two of the easiest.
Performance Management Systems
Performance management systems—as the name suggests—allow you to take action in a variety of ways to manage agent performance, from call monitoring to quality assurance processes, coaching and feedback, tracking agent KPIs and more. Introducing a high-quality PMS into your tech stack makes it easier to evaluate employee performance, provide effective feedback and coaching, implement ongoing training, reward high-performing employees and improve service levels and employee satisfaction.
Exit interviews are an invaluable tool for call centers. Once employees have put in their termination notice, it’s generally too late to change their mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gather valuable feedback on their way out.
Once employees are leaving, you can often get more honest feedback from them than you may be able to from current employees. In addition, exit interviews can uncover trends and problems that need to be solved for existing employees to reduce turnover. The key is to actually listen carefully to employees’ feedback and reasons for leaving—don’t dismiss them, as many current employees may secretly hold the same views and frustrations.
Data Analytics and Reporting
Finally, a good data analytics and reporting tool can provide monitoring and analysis for both internal and external data. The data analytics tool you choose will depend on your goals and budget, as well as your other tech, but it should offer the ability to monitor both employee feedback, employee metrics, customer metrics, and customer feedback on your agents. All of this data can highlight areas that need improvement to strengthen retention.
Avoiding Call Center Turnover By Outsourcing
If you’re continuing to struggle with call center turnover, outsourcing can be a quick and simple solution.
With outsourcing, you get access to high quality agents who are already experienced—and you’re able to outsource the team management, hiring, training and retention strategies to an experienced provider, relieving your internal team of the need to manage turnover and retention.
In addition, outsourcing can improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover by allowing you to:
- increase staffing at more affordable rates, reducing workload on internal staff
- outsource tedious, repetitive or non-core tasks to allow internal teams to focus on high-impact, innovative projects
- scale up and down as needed for peak periods, providing additional staff support
- and more!
When you outsource to a trusted provider like ROI CX Solutions, you can alleviate the pressure of “fixing” employee retention by gaining access to a flexible, scalable, affordable and consistent team of agents.
Curious how outsourcing could support your call center with turnover and retention efforts? Connect with an expert from ROI CX Solutions today and let us bring our expertise to your current challenges and goals.