call center attrition

Call Center Attrition – The Good, The Bad, The Indifferent

Call center attrition is a widely recognized issue that, unfortunately, causes a lot of issues for the company. The fact is, however, that attrition is a problem for every company in every industry worldwide. People have better job offers; they move house to a different location; they want a change is career direction, etc. However,

Call center attrition is a widely recognized issue that, unfortunately, causes a lot of issues for the company. The fact is, however, that attrition is a problem for every company in every industry worldwide. People have better job offers; they move house to a different location; they want a change is career direction, etc. However, not all industries receive the same attention for their attrition rate as call and contact centers do. While the rate at which people leave call centers, no matter the size of the center, averages around 32.6%, it is unfair to leave the statistic there and then try to fix it. There is often a lot more to the numbers than meet the eye.

Calculating Call Center Attrition

The first thing that you need to know is how to calculate your attrition rate. Is it a pretty easy formula to work out, even if changing it is not so simple. Attrition percentage = Total number of leavers ÷ number of employees x 100 Of course, the number of employees will change over some time, so it is often easier to use an average number. For example, if you had an average of 300 employees over time, and you had 68 of them leave, this would be your calculation: 68 ÷ 300 x 100 = 22.66% attrition rate. However, as we have already pointed out, working out the numbers is a lot more simple than trying to improve them. Furthermore, knowing that leavers are one of the highest costs to contact centers is one of the most significant driving forces that make us want to change that.

Cost of Call Center Attrition

While the cost of replacing those employees will differ a lot depending on the processes and training expenses etc., the average cost is between $5,000 and $7,500 per new employee. Using the example above, if you had 68 leavers in one year, you would need to replace them all, too. Therefore, you are looking at a total cost of $340,000 to $510,000 to hire and train them to the standard required to replace the leavers.

How to “Fix” Call Center Attrition Rates

There are very few industries and businesses across the world that wouldn’t want to change their attrition rate. However, the difficult part is knowing how to change them. The main issue with call centers, though, is that it is all too easy to say that people leave because of poor working conditions and blame it on call centers as a whole. The truth is, if you have employees in any role that does not suit them, they will leave, and you will need to replace them. We will go into this a little more in a moment. call center attritionFurthermore, if you try to rush people into a position that they are not ready for, even if the role suits them, they will find it challenging to adapt and will eventually leave. Let’s take a look through some of the most prominent reasons for high attrition rates, and see if we can highlight some ways to change it for the better.

Selecting the Right Agents

OK, the title of this is leading us straight into the trap of the myth that selection and retention practices are the primary issues. It is often too easy to say that a recruitment team should do more to hire the right people, with the proper credentials for the role. Well, that is true, in part. However, the comparison is rarely that easy. If you have ever worked in a large contact center, you know that there can be various industries having all of their calls directed there. That fact can lead to some problems, but often unsolvable ones unless you are willing to downsize your business to only incorporate one industry. What that does mean, however, is that you need to seek out agents that are comfortable in the role that you have envisioned for them. Just like any business, not all people are going to be comfortable talking about medical issues, but they may be highly skilled in the education sector. Planning your launch timing with your recruitment team allows them enough time to seek out agents that will suit your requirements for the roles you have available.

Look at Industry Comparisons

As you have just read, some call centers have multiple industries that they need to deal with. If you already have the appropriate agents in the industry, then you need to compare each of the industries that you have, with similar contact centers in the same industries, at a comparable size. For example, if you have an inbound call center that deals with multiple industries, such as medical and education, you need to compare the attrition rate of each of those industries with comparable businesses. Furthermore, if you have 100 agents within one of those industries, there is no point looking at the data from a call center that only has 20; it is pretty evident that yours is going to have a higher rate.

Campaign Launch Speed Vs. Recruitment

There is a direct correlation between recruitment, launch speed, and attrition. If companies try to get as many new agents as they can onboard as quickly as possible for a campaign that they are launching, they will put stress onto the recruitment process. That will inevitably lead to a higher attrition rate down the line when the agents they took on decide they were not ready for the influx of work that they are not used to, or in an industry that doesn’t suit them. Utilizing the clients’ knowledge ad recourses to assist with the recruitment process in plenty of time, you will get the right people in the correct sections in plenty of time. That will, in turn, help lower your attrition rates through the selection of staff.

Team Building

Call centers are not as solitary as people often think. Everyone who works in a call center, not only the agents, need to work together a lot more than you may think. That is not only to reach goals but also because the employees rely on the people that they work with to get guidance and advice on various situations. Understanding how teams of staff work together, and the structure of those teams are some of the essential factors that you need to consider. That is not only to ensure high productivity but also to the environment of your employees. The better a team communicates and gets on well with each other, the better they will perform, and the happier they will be in their work environment.

Downtime

Call center agents are not just a number. I know that everyone reading this should understand that, but it is the truth. We all need time to recuperate, and that is especially true when you are working in such a fast-paced environment like a call center. Simple steps to ensure that there is a communal meeting area for them to have their breaks, encouraging groups of agents to take breaks at the same time, etc., can all help performance. That, in turn, will help with attrition rates, as they all get on well with each other.

Is Attrition Always Bad?

In a single word, no, attrition is not always bad. Whether the “good attrition” is equal to the cost is another thing. However, in this section, we will look at two of the most significant ways that attrition can be a good thing:
  • Moving Forward With Their Career. – Whether it is in-house or externally, attrition based on an improvement in an agent’s career is not a bad thing. That means that you hired people who were good at their job, and they probably did it very well. Furthermore, if you have an agent who moves into a managerial or corporate role, that would still count as attrition, because you have to employ a new agent to take their place on the phones.
  • Wrong Attitude/Unfitting Position. – If you lose an agent because they have a bad attitude, or they do not fit the role, then that can be looked upon as a good thing. There is little to no point trying very hard to keep those agents that do not want to be there doing the job. On the other hand, there is no reason to train someone far beyond a reasonable amount to make them fit a role that they do not have the passion for.
There are a lot of people who use call center jobs as a stepping stone or a career gap placement. That can leave them unwilling to try as hard as someone who wants to do the job for personal satisfaction.

Call Center Attrition – Conclusion

Not all call center attrition is equal, and you need to compare your statistics with other comparative industry standards. Furthermore, you need to understand that, even if you have a high attrition rate, they may not all be because they are in a bad working environment. Correctly managing your team and how they interact with each other will help you lower your rate of leavers. Looking at why they leave will help you see if it is good or bad attrition.