Agent Attrition: The real reasons why call centre agents quit…


Every contact centre has an array of challenges to face week in, week out. Whether management are battling to improve efficiency, reduce call handling times or simply better the customer experience, there’s always something to tackle.

On top of the usual challenges, many contact centres face high staff turnover. It’s quite common for high attrition to be accepted in a lot of contact centres, simply because it’s considered as part of the ‘nature of the industry’. Many contact centre leaders also believe it’s easier to accept high employee churn and take the financial hit of recruitment, rather than invest in a valuable development progression programme.

The reality of the matter is that agent attrition is not only extremely costly, but also has massive potential to damage team morale, reduce productivity and impact the performance of the call centre.

This is why it’s essential for contact center leaders figure out exactly why agents decide to leave their roles – so we can support and empower talent to deliver a truly great customer service.

So what can you do to tackle this? Below we’ve outlined the top 5 reasons why agents leave the contact centre and what you can do to prevent it.

1. No foreseeable opportunities

It’s common knowledge that many agents are simply working at a contact centre as a stop-gap, waiting for the promise of another role to come along. Even though this needn’t be the case, all agents still need career development opportunities. Without the promise or potential of climbing the ladder, agents are likely to view their role as a dead-end.

Of course, you can’t promise everyone a promotion in order to maximise their interest – but it is possible to have conversations with staff about their short and long term ambitions. Agents need to see opportunities opening up around them whilst they are developing their own skills in order to feel optimistic about their work situation.

There is only so long a person can stay at the top of their game without opportunity for progression until resentment settles in.

Acknowledge the hopes of your agents, support their development, and ensure they’re aware of career opportunities open to them – this will promote engagement and allow them to envision a future with the company.

2. Lack of a challenge

Work in the contact centre can often be repetitive and mundane – this leads to agents feeling bored and unsatisfied with their day-to-day role. Due to the nature of the contact centre, seemingly tedious work can be very difficult to avoid, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t a work around.

Quite often it’s agents already performing at the highest level and in need of progression who require the biggest challenge. This type of employee knows the role inside out, have mastered many of the skills associated with it, and no longer find it challenging. For everyone else, the issue is how they are being challenged – are they being challenged in a way that is stimulating to them or or they just being mass managed with a one size fits all approach?

By using gamification designed specifically for the contact centre, it becomes possible to create exciting challenges and encourage friendly competition amongst your agents. Traditional whiteboards and incentives can only go so far before agents find those tiresome, too – from our experience, introducing game mechanics to the mix never fails to engage staff.

3. Value and culture misalignment

The core values of a business is what creates its culture – the beating heart and identity of the entire organisation. If you were to define the core values of your business, or what you think is really important to a productive and happy call centre, it’s likely that things like empowerment, openness and autonomy are bound to spring to mind.

In the contact centre, people are not necessarily recruited because they are aligned with the values of the business. Trying to change the way a person thinks, behaves and works so they fit the mould is difficult, and futile. If business included values as part of the recruitment process as well as skills and experience, they are more likely to bring in staff that get on board quicker.

Brand values should be lived, not just thrown about during a performance review meeting when a manager feels it is the right time to introduce them into the conversation.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to experience somewhat of a disconnect between their self-prescribed business values and the culture they promote through their actions. Agents who experience this dissonance first hand are likely to feel conflicted and frustrated. Ensure your values are aligned with your actions and culture, if you want to promote a culture of empowerment and excellence, ensure you have the tools and planning in place to support that.

4. Failure to acknowledge success and effort

Putting in a lot of effort and doing a great job brings a certain sense of personal satisfaction, but what’s absolutely essential in a work environment  is for peers and colleagues recognise progress too. Contact centres where performance and progress aren’t recognised tend to create feelings of resentment for the agents who work within them.

Agents who are consistently recognised and praised for hard work are more likely to do a better job, develop as individuals, stay with the company and deliver an outstanding customer experience. Make sure you have what you need to consistently monitor and identify the progress and success of your agents.

5. Better opportunities elsewhere

The contact centre industry in 2016 is more connected, transparent and transformative than ever. Agents are aware of what opportunities are out there, and most millennials can move between jobs without much fuss. Agents who are unhappy, disengaged and frustrated will easily believe the grass is greener on the other side, and in many cases it often is.

Now is the time for contact centres to start differentiating themselves from the competition through employee engagement.

This means rather than accept the ‘revolving door’ attitude, strive to recruit and keep the best people. When investment is placed into developing individuals, attrition starts to mean something.

By Tom Palmer
Tom is EvaluAgent’s Head of Digital and takes the lead on developing and implementing our digital and content management strategies which results in creating a compelling, digital-first customer marketing experience.

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