At the end of a long work day of managing agents, customer queries, and high call volumes, call center leaders want to have achieved two fundamental goals: retain solid employees, and provide excellent customer service.
Call center managers are acutely aware that the industry faces some of the steepest staff turnover rates in the world. And it’s no surprise why: high call center attrition rates generally stem from poor company culture, stressful work environments, low pay, and overall agent dissatisfaction.
This is why every call center’s business strategy should analyze attrition rates (as well as strategies to mitigate them) in order to put employee retention first. Focusing on improving agent experience and giving staff the tools they need to do their job effectively, and happily, are key to the future success of a call center’s operations, after all.
A starting point for all of this is to calculate your call center’s attrition rate. So, let’s dive into what call center attrition is, what causes it, how to calculate it, and how to use it to inform employee retention strategies.
What is Call Center Attrition and Why is it Important?
Also known as “employee turnover,” call center attrition generally refers to agents that leave the job they were hired to do, and for various reasons. Involuntary attrition refers to employees that leave for extenuating circumstances (like relocation or illness). Voluntary attrition occurs when agents leave by their own choice, often due to undesirable working conditions or benefits – and it is now higher than ever.
But why does call center attrition matter? Isn’t it easy enough to hire more agents at a limited cost to business operations? Unfortunately no: attrition drains your existing resources by requiring more labor and time for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding. It may also be that the learning curve for newly-hired agents is higher, taking them at least a few months to be at peak performance. And, existing agents are forced to pick up the slack throughout this process, adding more stress to their workday.
Added to this challenging mix are dips in customer satisfaction and employee morale, and spikes in call center expenses. It is certainly a no-win situation.
What Causes Call Center Attrition?
The call center industry skews towards a few undesirable work qualities, leading employees to leave at disproportionately high rates. These include:
Poor Company Culture: Company culture includes a company’s values, strategic vision, and agent engagement strategies. If your contact center doesn’t have a clear strategy or values, agents will find it difficult to find meaning or fulfillment in the role. They may also grow frustrated by a seemingly absent management team.
Low Pay: The average US call center agent makes about $14.80/hour, about $2 lower than the national average.
Poor Training Programs: Similar to poor company culture, poor agent training programs make agents’ jobs more stressful. Without proper preparation for the work, agents are ill-equipped to satisfy customers and won’t feel a sense of accomplishment from their work.
Employee Burnout: Call center agents have to deal with angry customers every day. Added to this are the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic which has prompted agents to adopt even more empathy in the way they communicate with customers – this can ultimately be draining and stressful for them in the long run.
Lack of Technology: Call centers are considered behind the times if they haven’t invested in the right technology, especially with the recent rise in hybrid work contexts. Fonolo’s Visual IVR and Voice Call-Backs remove the burden of high call volumes from agents, allowing them to work more efficiently and with less stress.
Monotonous Work: Call center employees often do the same thing every day. If management isn’t attentive to who’s doing what and rotating job duties and challenges, agents may feel less enthusiastic about their roles, leading them to consider other options.
How to Calculate Attrition Rate in 3 Easy Steps
With that context, it’s time to consider ways to bolster employee retention and lessen turnover in your call center. Starting with a simple attrition calculation is a smart place to start: here’s how to do it.
- Count how many agents quit in the past year.
- Divide the number of attritions (agents that quit) by the average number of employees.
- Multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.
Let’s look at an example for Contact Center A:
- Agents that quit in 2020: 50
- Average number of employees: 300
- Attrition Rate = 100 (# of Attritions/Average # of Employees)
- Attrition Rate = 100 (50/300)
- Attrition Rate = 100 (0.167)
- Attrition Rate = 16.7%
Now, is 16.7% considered a high attrition rate? Not really, but it’s not high when you compare it to the industry average: call centers in the US have an average attrition rate of between 30-45%.
The average employee attrition rate for contact centers is between 30-45%.
Now that you know your call center attrition rate, it’s time to act on it.
How to Use Call Center Attrition Rate to Improve Customer Service and Employee Retention
Here are a few tips on how to use call center attrition rates to inform overall business strategies.
Look at attrition rates over time.
Attrition for one month or even one year won’t tell you what you need to know about your call center. While a low attrition rate like 16.7% might seem favorable at first, that perception could change if you realize that the rate has increased over the last few years. Always look at attrition rates over the long-term to better understand your staffing trends.
Calculate attrition rates every week or month.
Multiple years of attrition rates can help you assess whether call center agent turnover has improved or worsened. However, calculating attrition more frequently can help you pinpoint the problems in real-time. For example, if you notice a dramatic change in only a two-week period, it’s easier to isolate what could have happened to encourage this higher attrition.
Use attrition rates when making your business cases.
If you’re a call center manager that wants to improve your contact center’s performance and employee retention, be it through improved training programs, more robust call center technology, or even shuffled management, you can use attrition rates as hard evidence when making your business cases.
Call center executives listen when you tell them about attrition rates – they understand how it costs them customer service standards, further employee retention, time, and money. Leveraging your hard data to better your business operations is your best way forward.Call center attrition is useless without nuance. Calculate it over the long-term and on a weekly basis to better pinpoint areas of improvement in your call center. #Employee retention #CallCenterMetrics Click To Tweet