Contact Center
High Volume Recruitment

Addressing Call Center Turnover Rate

published by
Chandal Nolasco da Silva
March 25, 2024
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Addressing Call Center Turnover Rate

Nearly half of all call center managers feel that high agent turnover rates are the biggest operating problem next to absenteeism. And while it’s never been more important for businesses to provide great customer service experiences, the call centers behind these are struggling with a major churn problem. This issue isn’t isolated to one location either. Across the globe the $481 billion dollar contact center industry is plagued with an average annual turnover rate of up to 40%, and some as high as 100%!

To help contact and call centers curb turnover rates, this article will answer the following questions:

  • What is Call Centre Turnover Rate? Is It the Same as Attrition Rate? 
  • What’s Causing Agents to Leave Call Centers?
  • How Much Does Call Center Turnover Cost?
  • How Can Call Centers Slow Turnover Rates? 
  • And more!

Before we unpack these important questions, let’s all get on the same page about what call center turnover is.

What is Call Centre Turnover Rate? Is It the Same as Attrition Rate? 

While the concept of call center turnover rate is very similar to call center attrition rate, the two are different. In general, call center turnover rate will only consider employees who voluntarily left their positions, while attrition rate would include both voluntary and involuntary departures.

Call center turnover rate can therefore be defined as “the rate at which call center employees voluntarily leave their jobs over a given period.” It’s calculated by “dividing the number of staff who leave by the total number of staff, expressed as a percentage. For example, if you have 100 call center agents and 25 leave over the year, the turnover rate is 25%.”

That said, any turnover rate enthusiast would argue that this calculation can get more complicated. For example, the call center turnover rate could be measured by considering whether or not employees left for internal or external positions, measured according to the team, by performance level, and more.

What’s Causing Agents to Leave Call Centers?

According to various sources, the main reasons call center agents leave their jobs are as follows:

  • Lack of job satisfaction overall from working in a call center
  • The prevalence of opportunities available allows agents to “job-hop”
  • The availability of financial assistance for unemployed workers
  • Long hours, stressful and repetitive work in an undesirable environment
  • Lack of growth opportunities, limited development, skills underutilized
  • Low pay, not feeling valued or appreciated, unrecognized, unmotivated
  • Poor culture at work, conflicts with colleagues, disconnected colleagues, no autonomy
  • Confronting angry customers, fast-paced, difficult metrics

There are several things within the control of call center management teams to help retain agents, but more on that later.

How Much Does Call Center Turnover Cost?

Hiring and losing employees in a call center costs money. The Center for American Progress estimates that frontline employees cost about 20% of their annual salary. That figure considers the cost of a recruiter either internal or external, the cost of hiring a replacement, the cost of onboarding, and any overtime paid for employees covering for the shortage in staff. 

It’s not just the actual loss of revenue though, that’s the thing. Call center turnover rates have a ripple effect across the entire organization. It was recently reported that call center attrition rates are causing decreased first-call resolution rates and customer satisfaction. This phenomenon is partially explained in the following diagram:

Agent turnover has an impact company-wide, and this problem isn’t new. One study showed that 36.2% of contact centers faced staffing shortages in 2020, inhibiting their ability to support business growth. How can contact centers better the situation?

How Can Call Centers Slow Turnover Rates? 

According to one source, poor hiring is the number one factor driving high call center turnover rates. Our latest skills-based hiring performance report revealed that by hiring for the right set of skills at the top of the funnel, call centers can cut attrition rates later on. Top-skilled customer service candidates were found to attrit 27 times less than bottom-skilled candidates.

For contact centers included in the study, that means they were able to significantly curb their turnover rates just by changing the way they hired. Of course, that won’t stop current employees from leaving, so here are a few other pointers HR and operations teams can think about to stop their leaky employee bucket.

Agents Need the Right Tools to Offer Good Service

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020 “high-performing teams are twice as likely to use an omnichannel solution that combines support, self-service, chat, or phone.” This means companies need to identify where customers are and build a customer service presence on the channels they use most. Agents need to be trained across all of these service channels to offer the best service and feel successful at work.

Agents Need the Right Information to Resolve Issues Effectively

The average first-call resolution (FCR) rate is 70% in the call center industry and anything below that needs improvement since FCR rate will directly impact CSAT scores. For agents to successfully resolve all different types of customer issues they need access to an up-to-date knowledge base that is easy to navigate, and allows agents to do their jobs autonomously.

Empowered and autonomous employees are “often more capable of effectively addressing customers’ needs by being flexible, responsive and personal.”

Contact center agents should be equipped with the right resources, from customer issue management tools to a thorough knowledge library. Making information easily searchable not only prepares agents to resolve issues quickly and effectively but also encourages active learning.

Agents Need the Right Conditions to Feel Good at Work

Aside from tools and training, call centers should aim to address each one of the top reasons agents leave listed in the What’s Causing Agents to Leave Call Centers? section of this post, including environment, culture, professional development, compensation, and more. Given the competition for good call center talent, the need to stand out from the rest has never been greater. 

Beyond improving the conditions of the call center job, agents will be more likely to stay if they feel valued by their employer. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. A McKinsey report explains, “Many organizations view the function as just a cost center, with frontline employees constantly cycling in and out, instead of as a valuable source of talent with a unique vantage point on customers.” If contact center agents are just a cost sink to their employers, they’re not likely to feel valued, and are more likely to leave.

Agent Incentives Have Been Proven to Cut Call Center Turnover Rate

2023 research from Walden University experimented with strategies to reduce call center turnover rate. Among three call centers from Raleigh, North Carolina, they found that effective leadership and employee incentives were the most effective means of motivating agents not to leave the company. Call centers should explore incentives and rewards, that may or may not be monetary, to better retain call center agents.

Creating a Call Center That Keeps Employees

Call and contact center agents are not just a cost sink, they are the lifeblood between a company’s product/services and their revenue. So, investing in the happiness of contact center agents and support teams has an immediate impact on business outcomes, from customer satisfaction to retention. This means employee retention plays an essential role in customer satisfaction strategy! Companies need to consider this high-level reality at the departmental planning stage.

Get HR and Operations together with the C-Suite and look at how the call center can curb turnover rates at the organizational level. Then go the extra mile for your long-undervalued call center agents. Empower them, help them, and reward them for the value they bring if you want to hang on to them.

Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Alex Kotliarskyi

Image 1: Via the Society of Workforce Planning Professional

Image 2: Via Nextiva

Image 3: Property of HiringBranch. Not to be reproduced without permission.


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