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Call centre attrition on the rise

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28th Nov 2007
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Call centre staff attrition in the UK has risen for the fifth consecutive year because of low salaries and companies experience difficulties recruiting new workers.

The mean UK call centre attrition rate is now 32 percent, according to the fifth annual UK Contact Centre Operational Review report by industry analyst ContactBabel. Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of the 200 call centre operations that took part in the survey said they are also experiencing problems recruiting new staff. Some 185,920 new agents have to be recruited each year to ensure staff levels are kept constant.

Call centre agent salaries have increased only at the same level as inflation over the past four years, but call centre manager salaries, however, have risen by 27 percent during the same period.

"The lack of growth in agents' salaries is certainly a major factor in producing high levels of attrition,” said Steve Morrell, principal analyst at ContactBabel. “Businesses should be working to move low-value interactions onto web and phone self-service channels, and to use the savings created to pay higher salaries to their agents. This will attract and retain high-quality staff, a move which will immediately and permanently benefit both the business and the customer base."

The report also found that pure IP infrastructure will be commonplace in most UK call centres within the next two years, with 41 percent of respondents saying their operations will be fully IP-architected by the end of 2009. Currently only 17 percent of call centres have an full IP infrastructure, with a further 28 percent using a hybrid IP/TDM network.

"The next two years will see a major technology refresh across the industry, focused upon upgrading the network to carry voice as well as data,” said Morrell. “Contact centres that are using a pure IP infrastructure report improvements in flexibility, decreased telecoms costs and easier application integration, especially in multi-site scenarios."

Former-BT chief technologist Peter Cochrane told Customer Contact Association (CCA) delegates that the industry is living on borrowed time and faces a major shakedown. "I point to one big US telco that worked out upwards of three-quarters of its workforce could be made redundant,” he said. “Every industry has to reduce costs, and by the way, you're next. It is an absolute inevitability that as a big operation it needs to be stripped down."

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