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How to prevent call center agent turnover

Customer Happiness

High call center agent turnover is a common problem facing many call centres. Attrition rate in the industry can often cause problems and may be as high as 20 or 30% annually.

The reason? Employees find it difficult to work with their manager or team leader.

It might be surprising to learn that call centre employees who find their work stimulating and rewarding still leave their jobs.

how to prevent call center agent turnover

Why is call center agent turnover such a widespread issue?

Let’s take a look at three primary reasons for high call center agent turnover – and even better, what you can do to avoid this recurring.

Rules and guidelines are essential

The “floor” won’t run smoothly without rules. Managers should have their own team guidelines, personal or otherwise. Team guidelines are essential to keeping the team operations flowing, preventing delays, and generally keeping everything in the office working to a certain standard.

Employees, especially when they are starting out, appreciate that there are rules to follow and to guide them as they learn the ropes. It helps them understand the skeleton of the system, and lets them know the boundaries for their endeavours – and hopefully how to work within them.

But many managers and team leaders like to exert extreme control over their agents. In such cases these rules just get in the way of them doing their work or, arguably worse, go against the ethics of the company as a whole.

Managers need to acknowledge excellent work

Employees look up to their managers and team leaders for guidance, inspiration and praise.
They are eager to please, and when they do a good job and you don’t let them know that you appreciate it, that’s a crushing blow. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs cites esteem as the last tier needed for self-actualisation – if you consistently fail to recognise their great work, what impulse do they have for doing it again in the future?

The orientation months make a poor first impression

New workers are most receptive to the way the company runs. If their first few weeks are prime examples of tedious work they may regret being hired in the first place. Why would these new agents look forward to a career with you if their first impressions are those of stagnancy and old-fashioned ceremony? Their dissatisfaction with management could be a reason for call center agent turnover.

So, what can call center managers do to improve call center agent turnover?

Here are a few tips and best-practices.

Everybody needs support

How much time do your team managers spend with their staff? The amount of time is crucial in helping new starters to overcome the natural difficulties they will face in becoming competent. Team managers are coaches, mentors but also bring the operational rigour to your organisation to make those calls.
On average, the team manager should spend two hours each month doing side-by-side observations, one hour undertaking remote monitoring, and one hour doing off-line coaching. This is in addition to a one-to-one review with each and every team member. It is this level of support that helps individuals develop their skills and become more effective. Plus, call center agent turnover will be reduced.

Rewards and incentives really work

We all know that money is important and while it sounds obvious there are a few different ways in which the company’s budget can be spent. Being recognised as doing ‘a good job’ is as important for a competitive person’s self-esteem as meeting or beating a target. So make your rewards fun and immediate.
A prize for the best team today, a prize for the team that makes the most improvement tomorrow, and another prize for everybody who worked on the campaign when the client says ‘great job’. There are a number of interesting alternatives to just offering cash as ways to reduce call center agent turnover. Depending on your staff’s interests, it could be an Xbox, a day at the races, a pampering session at the health spa – anything really. Just let your imagination run wild.

Too much praise removes its power

Too much praise removes its power, so only give it when it is truly warranted. As much as possible, acknowledge your agent in public as it will help their confidence and self-esteem. Coach them in private, so that they won’t feel humiliated in front of everybody.

Show agents that you trust them

People are much more productive when they are let off the leash a bit – this shows that you have confidence in their abilities and boosts their self-esteem, as long as what they do doesn’t hinder their deadlines or daily quota.

Be visible

It is essential that your team see you in the office, whether you are just supervising their work, or simply checking on them to see how they are. Being visible and available may also help in increasing your team’s motivation.

Be consistent

Make sure you follow through and deliver on those tasks and commitments that you made. Being inconsistent may be misconstrued as being someone who is not credible. Some examples are:

  • Do not skip or miss a scheduled meeting like a focus group discussion with agents.
  • When it comes to incentives, make sure that you deliver.
  • Follow through with whatever commitment you made.

These are just some of the most common issues that team leaders overlook when supervising a call centre environment. Sometimes they do these things without knowing that we are affecting morale and increasing the chances of attrition.
This should serve as an eye-opener for you to not only acknowledge these missteps and correct them, but also recognise similar errors, leading to a healthy workplace for both you and your team.

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