Fixing Your Agent Attrition Problem
When you google ‘call center’ and ‘turn over rates’ you’ll get a number of alarming stats that range between twenty to thirty-five percent. You’ll easily find a number of posts on how to calculate the actual number – what to count and not to count, etc.
Whether you decide to take the low number or the high, when one in three or one in four customer service agents that you spend money to recruit, onboard, train and schedule decide to leave within a year of employment, you’ve got to examine why, and we’ve got to work as an industry to fix it.
The problem compounds itself when you examine how costly agent turnover is to the company – without even considering what it does to the customer experience. Labor costs represent anywhere from sixty to seventy per cent of a call center’s annual operating budget. Replacing an agent works out to the equivalent of three months of an agent’s salary. Less than a third of call centers are considered to have high ‘job quality’ — and nearly seventy percent of agents identify their jobs as ‘not promote employee well being’. Its no wonder one in three leave before they celebrate a year in the job.
When you look at how to fix the agent attrition conundrum, look no further than Tony Hsieh and the Zappos model on employee engagement. The raves the company gets from its call center agents about why they work there provide hope and a common sense prescription to follow. While Hseih’s methods might border the ‘edgy’, the basic ingredients for keeping people who work in customer service are pretty straightforward.
They include things like: providing agent’s health insurance from day one. Match agent schedules to flexible lifestyles – it attracts a much wider pool of talent. Hire people that care about helping people, find personalities that can reflect your brand and fit with your customers. Kill the scripts – it’s unnatural for both the customer and the agent and the ‘adherence’ to them is killing the customer experience. Stop using yesterday’s performance metrics (like average talk times) to measure agent performance and instead free the agents to solve the customer’s problems.
Make your training program about developing people not about getting agents ‘on the floor’, as quickly as you can. Apply the natural multi-channel, multi-tasking skills that your agent demographic represents to solving customer problems and meeting customers where they are — nobody wants to answer phone calls all day.
Each one of these warrants future blogs and discussions – which we’ll be expanding on in the coming weeks.
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