The Warning Signs of Agent Attrition in the Call Center

Call Center | 3 minute read

An agent’s resignation is one of the most common challenges call center leaders face – but that doesn’t make the situation any easier. Agent attrition rates for the call center industry are some of the highest in the market, and as we continue to feel the effects of The Great Resignation, employee turnover is a huge problem businesses cannot ignore.

The best time to address turnover is before it happens. Be sure to pay attention to the warning signs — if you act quickly, you may be able to save your department a lot of costly hiring and training down the road.

Why Agent Attrition is a Major Problem

The current labor shortage means your call center can’t afford to lose the agents you have. Businesses across all industries are struggling to fill their open roles.

Even if you find the right talent quickly, new hires aren’t enough to mitigate the cost of call center attrition. Talent sourcing, recruitment, onboarding, and training quickly add up. Also, consider the value of experience – your new hire likely won’t be as productive as a veteran for at least a few years.

Attrition is also a slippery slope for your remaining agents. They’ll have to pick up the slack, facing peak call volumes with less support. With longer wait times, customers are more likely to be frustrated when they connect with the agents, resulting in more negative interactions. All this leads to low employee satisfaction, burnout, and higher turnover.

Call Center Attrition Warning Signs

Agent attrition isn’t always easily detected. If you’re looking for signs to burnout, you’re likely intervening too late. Instead, looks for these warning signs:

Rising attrition forecast.

How often does your call center review its attrition rates? Including this metric in regular reports is a strong start – this way, you’ll be able to track historical trends and address early signs of agent dissatisfaction. This tactic isn’t strong enough to prevent attrition on its own, but it can inform future agent engagement processes to prevent turnover in future.

Negative employee feedback.

One way to spot agent attrition is to talk to your agents. Establish channels and opportunities for them to voice their feedback and concerns. An NPS survey can help score general employee satisfaction, and allows you to quantify your agents’ feedback on a numerical scale. Plus, you can collect qualitative feedback and comments anonymously to gain insights into their satisfaction levels.

During one-on-one and team meetings, initiate opportunities for agents to provide candid feedback about their work. Look for trends in their answers – if you are seeing commonalities in their responses, you should address the issue before it begins to contribute to attrition.

Scheduling issues.

How often is your team short-staffed? Maybe you have a regular schedule, but scramble every month during peak call volumes. Scheduling issues are often a red flag signaling agent attrition.

Why? Scheduling errors have a direct impact on your employees’ lives, and constant disruptions will inevitably lead to unrest. Understaffing will result in added burden during high call volumes, which impacts the quality of your customer experience.

Do any of the above warning signs sound familiar? If so, you’ll want to follow these tips to reduce attrition:

3 Ways to Reduce Call Center Attrition

1. Invest in automation.

Call center technology has reached new heights, helping managers and supervisors offload repetitive tasks to free up valuable time for agents to be more productive. For instance, Voice Call-Backs and Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) pair together to allow your digital users to schedule a call-back from an agent during their preferred date and time window. Tools like these simplify monotonous tasks, allowing them to focus on customer interactions instead.

2. Focus on employee retention.

Hiring, onboarding, and training are essential parts of your operation, but what good are they if you’re not retaining the employees you’re investing in?

To retain your valued agents, find out what motivates them and find ways to make their daily work more fulfilling while making it easier for them to balance their home life as well. Consider offering flexible work arrangements, adopting contact center technology to make their work easier, or regular career planning sessions to support advancement within your business.

3. Set goals for attrition rate.

Tracking call center attrition rate regularly is a valuable practice – but the real value comes from analyzing that data. Research average call center attrition rates in your industry and establish benchmarks accordingly. Use those benchmarks and your historical attrition rate to set attainable goals. This practice will reduce your chances of an attrition spike!

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