Try playing this scenario in your mind.
You’re the manager of a call center having a workforce of 1000 agents. If at least 20% of your agents leave in a year, you would need to train more than 200 agents, bringing them up to speed with your workflow.
Wouldn’t it make you furious to have to do this every year?
Attrition is one of the biggest challenges faced by call centers worldwide. A study revealed that CX professionals expect attrition levels to be 20% or more through 2024.
What Is The Correlation Between Agent Attrition And Overall Performance?
Agent attrition impacts both the call center and agents who’re still working there. The impact it has on the contact center is quite evident in expenditure.
But when it comes to overall agent performance, gaps in knowledge and skill are created every time an agent leaves the call center. These can create continuous impacts on overall agent performance when attrition rates are high.
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Like every other call center manager, you would look for ways to reduce attrition rates and increase overall call center agent performance. You’re at the right place.
Before understanding how to reduce turnover rates, we must look at a few things. Let us look at what agent attrition is first.
What Is Agent Attrition?
Agent attrition refers to the rate at which people leave their workspace in a specified period of time. It’s generally measured with respect to the number of agents that have been employed in the call center over the time frame of a year.
Rather than a single reason that needs to be rectified, multiple factors affect agent performance, resulting in reasons for them to leave the call center.
Since we've understood what attrition means in terms of a call center, now let us look at why is it so high in call centers.
Why Are Contact Center Attrition Rates So High?
A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that contact centers have 1.3 times the annual attrition rates compared to other private sector averages.
Let’s understand why agents walk out of call center jobs so quickly?
The call center environment that stresses on various key metrics to measure agent productivity creates a lot of pressure on agents. These pressurized environments often take a toll on agents.
A study found that burnout is a risk factor for 59% of contact center agents. This overwhelming call center environment poses a threat to agent performance.
Dealing with pressurizing situations leads agents to feel that it’ll only get worse, eventually leading to quitting.
2. Stagnant Career Progress
Call center agents also expect career progress like any other job role. The nature of a call center makes it difficult for any significant raise in an agent’s role.
The constant threat of being flagged in audits and an environment which makes it easier to stumble than move ahead makes it a cumbersome task to see any relevant progress in an agent's career.
The stagnancy makes it frustrating for agents to see no change. This frustration pushes agents to leave in search for new and better opportunities.
3. Improper Work-Life Balance
Even if agents don’t feel burned out with the high-stress contact center environments, it can cause problems in their work-life balance. The pressure often keeps agent performance metrics a constant thought in an agent’s mind.
If it gets too challenging to have a healthy work-life balance, agents will look for opportunities that don’t negatively impact their well-being. This is true for both agents with burnout and an unhealthy work-life balance.
4. Lack Of Good Management
Another equally important reason for high turnover rates is the lack of proper management. Agents need engagement and healthy interactions with their managers.
Agents feel disconnected if they don’t get any feedback on their work. Such feelings can make them feel like they’re alone and that they aren’t part of a team.
Such disconnects could cause agents to leave if continued for extended periods.
With many reasons leading to high agent churn rates, let us look at its impact on overall call center performance.
How Do High Attrition Rates Affect Call Center Agent Performance?
What is the first hurdle that comes to your mind while thinking about challenges posed by agent attrition?
You wouldn’t be the only one thinking about the recruitment and training costs to replace each agent that has left.
“Training expenditure in the US has increased from 82.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 to 92.3 billion in 2021” - Statistica
While those are the most pressing concerns that affect the contact center's performance, there are other concerns too. High turnover rates can also impact overall agent performance and customer experience delivery, to name a few.
Let’s look at some of those impacts.
1. Impact Customer Satisfaction Scores
When an experienced agent leaves, a gap is created in the knowledge and skills they possess. Training new agents to reach that caliber takes time and harms customer experience delivery.
The first few customer calls received by an agent will impact the customer's experience as the customer notices the agent’s lack of experience. The longer wait times to respond to customers and higher chances of error result in a subpar experience delivery.
Customers often notice a drop in experience delivery, which results in lower customer satisfaction levels.
2. Reduced Agent Performance
Frequent agent turnovers can impact overall performance in contact centers. New agents need time to ramp up and be skilled in their roles.
This leads to lower agent performance on a short-term basis. But in contact centers where agent churn rates are high, agent performance takes a hit on a continuous basis.
An environment with continuous impacts on agent performance affects experience delivery. Prolonged impacts on experience delivery can also lead to reduced revenue.
Managers are often stumped on how to take steps to reduce agent attrition.
Let us look at some ways to handle agent attrition in contact centers.
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How To Reduce Attrition Rates?
Some minute yet meaningful changes can help reduce agent attrition in contact centers. Here are some of them.
1. Comprehensive And Updated Training
Every new call center agent should be given extensive training that bestows the knowledge and skills required to handle customers. This allows agents to feel comfortable handling all kinds of queries.
While the initial training goes a long way in enhancing agent performance, it isn’t enough. Agents should also be given timely and continuous training opportunities based on updates in adopted technology and any changes in products and services offered by the company.
2. Nurturing A Positive Work Environment
A healthy work environment keeps agents motivated. Agents feel valued when their hard work is recognized.
A work environment that allows agents to grow professionally is one that they’ll likely be loyal to.
3. Adopt Effective Technology
In today’s world that revolves around technology, leveraging technology can increase agent performance.
Automation can be deployed to automate routine tasks and give agents real-time access to the CRM. Leveraging technology in such a manner helps agents to be more efficient.
Work environments where agents aren’t bogged by mundane and repetitive tasks allow them to be more productive in doing work that needs more attention.
4. Efficient Feedback Loops
Every contact center should have a call monitoring system. Auditors that analyze and monitor agent calls can help increase agent performance.
Call monitoring systems allow for feedback loops that help agents identify areas for improvement. Agents know what areas to work on and improve when a feedback loop is in place.
Such systems allow agents to improve their skills and give them a feeling of career growth.
These changes might seem disruptive at first, but can have huge impacts when implemented consistently. Such initiatives have a long-term impact and can help in retaining agents despite the questionable changes on a short-term basis.
How would you know that the above measures are positively impacting agent performance? Here are a few KPIs that help in identifying the impact.
Call Center Metrics To Measure Agent Performance
There are various metrics that can be used to measure agent performance in call centers. Here are a few of them”:
1. First Call Resolution (FCR)
First call resolution or FCR refers to agents solving the customer’s needs in a single call without any need for a follow-up. Agents with high FCR rates offer quality service and improve experience delivery speeds.
2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
CSAT or customer satisfaction is a metric that tracks the customer’s satisfaction with your organization’s services. CSAT is often measured across a scale.
Agents with a high CSAT provide quality service to customers that they handle.
3. Average Handle Time (AHT)
Average handle time or AHT is a metric that measures the average duration of each agent-customer interaction. It covers both the hold and talk time in an interaction.
Instead of aiming for lower AHT, it should be used along with other metrics like FCR and CSAT to comprehensively understand an agent’s performance.
Keeping on top of these metrics while reducing agent turnover rates can help you to increase agent performance in your call center.
High call center attrition rates have drastic impacts on both overall agent performance and customer satisfaction.
Various factors like burnout, unhealthy work-life balance and stagnant career impact agent performance and result in high attrition rates.
High attrition rates affect call center management by increasing training costs and impacting overall agent performance. All of this take a toll on customer satisfaction.
Implementing continuous training plans, nurturing a positive work environment and adopting efficient technology helps reduce call center attrition rates. Using metrics to assess agent performance also allow you to ensure agent performance doesn’t take a hit in this process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is agent performance?
Ans: Agent performance is an analysis of how agents perform in accordance with various indicators an how do they serve customers.
How do you calculate agent performance?
Ans: Agent performance is tracked across various metrics such as first call resolution (FCR), customer satisfaction (CSAT), and average handle time (AHT) to name a few.
What is agent attrition?
Ans: Agent attrition or turnover rate refers to the percentage of agents that have left the call center over a specific time period. It is usually over the time frame of a year.
What are the significant reasons for agent attrition?
Ans: The most cited reason for agents leaving call centers is burnout. Apart from burnout, other reasons of attrition include the lack of career growth, poor management, and unhealthy work-life balance.
How does agent attrition affect overall agent performance?
Ans: High agent attrition rates affect overall call center performance as new agents need time to ramp up. It also affects the experience delivery, impacting the customer satisfaction score.
How can you improve agent performance?
Ans: Agent performance can be increased by updating training modules and creating feedback loops that agents can learn from.
What is a good call answer rate?
Ans: Studies have shown that 80% of calls directed to a call center should be answered within 20 seconds. This is seen as a good call answer rate across the customer service industry.
What are the ways to reduce agent attrition?
Ans: Agent attrition can be reduced by introducing certain changes in your contact center workflow. Some of those changes include comprehensive and updated training practices, leveraging the right technology, and implementing a feedback loop between auditors and agents.