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Contact Center Turnover By Sarah Hall

Techniques for Contact Centers to Reduce High Turnovers

Staff turnover is one of the biggest problems that contact centers face today. It has a huge impact on the costs and the quality of service. According to the 2016 US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide from – the Average annual turnover rate for a customer service representative (CSR) was 29% – an “average lifespan” for a call center worker in the USA was approximately 3.3 years – with quit rates representing 60% of Total Turnover.

Regardless of size or industry sector – over time it is a statistically inevitable reality that the demands of call center work causes exhaustion and apathy – and turnover.

Reasons Why Contact Center Agents Quit or Get Terminated

What are the reasons behind the high turnover rate? Like most situations, the answer cannot be reduced to a single factor, but is instead a combination of workplace environmental influences. Here are the top drivers of turnover:

  1. Wrong Candidate for the Job
  2. Incomplete or Minimal Training
  3. Narrow Chances of Career Advancement
  4. Non-Competitive Compensation
  5. Overworked and Burnout of More Experienced Agents
  6. Unpleasant Physical or Interpersonal Working Conditions
  7. Exhaustion from Monotony
  8. Poor Leadership & Direct Supervision
  9. Working with Outmoded Technology
  10. Poor Analysis of Call Center Statistics

Employee Engagement Techniques to Reduce Turnover

Through employee engagement, companies can boost their employees’ motivation, build confidence in their work, and ultimately lead them to deliver exceptional customer service for long-term customer loyalty. With the onset of the new millennial generation, old and rusty work cultures are rapidly breaking down. This is a cue for businesses that they need to get real insights from their workforce through employee engagement tools and techniques that can motivate and drive workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Gamification– Gamification is proving to be an effective tool for identifying and recognizing agents and other employees for a job well done. Even better, it is also a self service tool, which means that agents control their own destiny when it comes to recognition and rewards, which frees supervisors and managers from this essential but time-consuming task. Gamification solutions actively engage agents in their own success, which is characteristic of leading contact centers.

Compensation– Creating a compensation plan that rewards top employees is an excellent way to drive performance. In the large majority of the employee engagement surveys conducted by TalentMap, compensation receives one of the least favorable ratings among all of the dimensions of employee engagement. An analysis published by Harvard Business Review showed that performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and trust in management. Compensation also serves as recognition in the absence of other cues, messages or signals.

Assessing Cultural Fit – Call centers are used to assessing employee performance through hard metrics. This is a key mistake, as academics have noted that employees who fit in well with their job, team and organization have greater job satisfaction, are more likely to remain in their organization, and show superior job performance.

Competent Technology, Tools and Training – To deliver their best, agents should be given the latest technology for excellent omnichannel customer service and receive the proper training required to master these tools. Using a contact center software solution with advanced features ensures quicker and more efficient service, and thorough training will help agents feel prepared for each interaction.

Experiment with Team Structure– We increasingly need to recruit people to integrate into a fast-paced team: according to McKinsey, 40% of jobs in developed economies involve a high degree of collaboration. Switch your agents tasks on occasion, encourage collaboration, and create team- building exercises. It will facilitate agent enthusiasm and interest, while keeping them on their toes.

Go Beyond the Metrics– While it is extremely important, if not essential, to monitor agent performance metrics (service level, agent schedule adherence, call resolution, average handle time, customer satisfaction) it shouldn’t never be the sole means by which to define an employee’s capabilities and potential. In fact, many call center employees site the narrow grading metrics contact centers generally adhere to as a key cause of in-office stress and lack of productivity.

Communication – Effective communication can increase employee engagement, boost workplace productivity, and drive business growth. Specifically, communicating strategies about career development and management can be essential to retaining an existing work force, and engaging employees to perform at their peak ability.

Allowing Downtime – Your workers are people, and people need downtime. There’s a growing trend of companies looking to utilize their employees’ downtime for good, or at least to not let their employees’ inevitable breaks go completely to waste. Rather than forcing employees to take very short breaks, and logging those breaks fastidiously, managers should encourage groups of employees to take breaks at the same times. By doing this, employees will spend more time together, encouraging social bonding.

Optimize the Workspace– Given the intense nature of a contact center, a workspace optimized for comfort and productivity is absolutely necessary. A lounge is a great way to show appreciation for agents’ well-being and to encourage employees to socialize during their downtime. For training and meeting purposes, open and collaborative spaces are ideal. Ergonomic chairs and supplies and even standing desks can increase comfort, as well as natural lighting, warm colors, and plants which are proven to boost people’s moods and creativity.

Provide Meaningful Rewards and Recognition– Encourage individual management recognition but also develop organizational recognition vehicles. Simple recognition of jobs well done in the quarterly newsletter, pictures on the bulletin board, dinner gift certificates, and other small rewards provide a high return on investment. Companies with employee recognition programs experience a 22% lower turnover rate than organizations without one.

Promoting Good Leadership – Being an empathetic manager that is willing to get to know their people beyond work have more engaged teams.

Establish Growth Opportunities – An astounding 32% of contact center employees cite “lack of career development opportunities” as a reason for terminating their employment. Ensure development opportunities are clearly established and communicated to agents on a continuous basis. It will encourage them to remain with the company while striving to reach for those elevated opportunities.

Covet Community Service As Much As Customer Service – People are inspired by and want to work for companies that care about all human beings – not just customers and employees. Give agents a few paid days off each year to volunteer for their favorite charity/non-profit organization; the time off the phones will help to minimize their whining about back pain and Carpal Tunnel flare ups.

Contact centers are challenging but highly rewarding departments in which to work. The influx of Millennials is driving companies to assess and re-evaluate their people engagement approaches and practices. Many companies are realizing that they need to make changes and investments if they want to have a contact center with highly motivated and engaged employees, and become an employer of choice.


Sarah Hall is a Customer Success Manager at Tenfold, a CTI software company that’s eliminating manual data entry into CRMs in order to boost productivity for a number of departments. This an excerpt of an article that originally published at Tenfold.


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