Contact centre attrition: Tactical ways to close the revolving doorby
One of the biggest challenges for contact centre managers is retaining staff, with high turnover often considered the norm in call centre culture.
According to Forrester analyst Kate Leggett, low agent turnover rates are those that are below 20% whilst turnover rates higher than 50% are considered high, but some contact centres have attrition rates of more than 100% a year.
“Turnover impacts organizations because of recruiting and training costs, and ongoing agent morale issues which can impact customer satisfaction. As turnover costs must be built into overall contact center plans, it’s important to have an attrition benchmark and manage your operations to that number,” she says in a new blog post.
But while managing your turnover rate is a fact of life, not all turnover is the same. Instead, organisations should quantify each turnover event as voluntary or involuntary and understand the reasons behind turnover in order to address them, adds Leggett.
Involuntary turnover refers to a mismatch between the contact center agent and the expectations of the position for which the agent is hired – for instance poor hiring and training practices or poor job descriptions. Voluntary turnover is attributable to the contact center organization not meeting long term job expectations of the contact center agent, such as job monotony, better pay elsewhere or lack of career advancement.
Here Leggett provides tactical ways to lower turnover, divided into four broad categories:
Strategy: Make sure that your customer service strategy is aligned to your overall company strategy, and you are using the right mix of high level KPIs and low level operational metrics to measure your contact center operations. For example, if you are a company that is differentiating itself on customer experience, your focus should be on first call resolution and satisfaction metrics, not on handle times or average speed of answer.
Process: Make sure that you have clear job descriptions for all contact center roles that are aligned with expectations. Make sure that your hiring processes are comprehensive and include a "day in the life" of a contact center agent to help set expectations. Make sure agents are comprehensively trained, then nested with senior agents who can act as mentors. Also, make sure that your calls are routed to the right agents; make sure that your agents have the right scripting or process guidance to follow to resolve customer inquiries; make sure your agents are able to collaborate with one another before blindly handing off inquiries to higher tiered agents.
Technology: Understand what inquiries your contact center is getting, and see if you can use self-service channels like IVR, of web self service to deflect the monotonous inquires. Make sure your agent desktop is usable and contains all the necessary information that agents need to solve customer questions. Make sure that your agents have access to the right data and content to resolve customer inquires.
People management: First, take care of the hygiene factors such as pay, benefits, scheduling, and management practices. Second, invest in your workforce: spend time with each agent to understand what they want out of their job – do they want career advancement to supervisor and management levels, better skilling, or are they happy staying a tier 1 agent for example. Put plans in place for each agent that supports their ambitions. Invest in eLearning to expand their skillset and keep them motivated, recognize and reward agents, and solicit their input and act on their suggestions.