It’s not you, it’s me — why your contact centre agents are leaving

“We are experiencing higher than expected call volumes at this time” might just be one of the most frustrating parts of the customer experience (CX) when dealing with contact centres. Little does the customer know, it’s not that you haven’t hired enough people, it’s just that they are leaving in such high numbers that it’s affecting the CX and affecting your bottom line.

Not only are you likely losing customers through a poor CX, but you are also quite possibly in a constant spiral of having to recruit and onboard new contact centre staff — a process that can cost two times an existing employee’s annual salary. The latest numbers have fewer New Zealand contact centre staff saying they will remain with their current employer, so let’s take a look at why that might be happening, and what you can do about it.

So, what can you do about contact centre churn?

In order to reduce turnover in your contact centre, you need to understand the reasons why agents are leaving in the first place. Here are some of the most common reasons for contact centre agents:

  • Lack of recognition: Contact centre agents are often chastised for a customer complaint, but rarely complimented on a job well done.
  • Lack of empowerment: There is a feeling amongst some contact centre agents that they are not given the autonomy or tools to do their jobs properly and are constantly being micro-managed.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Some contact centres set unrealistic targets for their staff, leading to an environment of stress and anxiety. You can read more in our whitepaper: Contact Centre KPIs: Why it’s so important to set your own goals, rather than follow the flock.
  • Burnout: All of the above can lead to burnout, which is when an employee starts to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. This can lead to a snowball effect of taking more sick days and making more mistakes, which eventually leads to them quitting out of stress.

Making sense of your contact centre agent churn

Getting the numbers for your contact centre churn rate is straightforward enough — if you have a team of 50 and 20 leave every year, that’s a churn rate of 40 per cent. But to really reduce your agent turnover, you need to understand the reasons behind the numbers. The primary and most practical way to build some data is to conduct exit interviews with employees who are leaving your contact centre. Try and find out the following:

Is the staff churn voluntary or involuntary?

If a significant number of your contact centre agents are leaving on their own accord, ask them what you could do to try and keep them. It will likely be a factor that we talk about later on in this article.

If you need to terminate a large number of contact centre agents regularly, you will likely need to look at your contact centre operations. Are you hiring the right people? Are you training them adequately and providing them with the right tools?

Is the staff churn internal or external?

If your contact centre agents are leaving to work within another department within your company, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It shows that you are providing opportunities for your staff to move up within the company.

If your contact centre agents are leaving to join another company entirely, it might be worth looking at the career progression path you offer your staff. If there are no internal opportunities for development, your best agents will look elsewhere. If your contact centre agents are being poached by other companies, it might be a sign that you are paying them below the market rate. It’s also important to acknowledge that the brain drain is well and truly back now that borders have been reopened post-covid — good workers will travel overseas if they are not kept happy at home.

Is the staff churn coming from a particular team or department?

If you find that the staff turnover is coming from a particular team or department within your contact centre, it might be an indication of a problem with management. It might surprise you to know that only 75% of staff believe that their team leaders have the technical skills to help them when they have questions. If your front-line managers are not doing a good job of leading and motivating or helping their teams, it will likely result in a high staff turnover. This would be a good opportunity to retrain your managers in order to try and improve the situation.

If it’s not a management problem, it might be due to the particular types of calls those contact centre agents are fielding. If one type of call has a higher turnover, you can take steps to lessen the pressure on those agents. For example, adding more personnel to the team or streamlining processes. Also, make sure the agents taking these calls have enough experience and skills to handle customer queries efficiently.

Technical solutions that reduce contact centre staff churn

While some might see technology as a replacement for people power, it is in fact a people-empowerer. Here’s how some cutting-edge tech can help you keep your contact centre staff happy, engaged, and with you for the long haul.

1. Leverage the cloud

One of the major benefits of a cloud-based contact centre is its consumption-based cost model, meaning you have the ability to scale up and down as needed, and at pace. Scale up, pay more, scale down, pay less — there are no issues with overspending or running out of capacity.

If you’re experiencing a busy period, you can quickly add more contact centre agents to your team without having to make a significant investment in new hardware. This will help to reduce the amount of pressure on your existing staff, and should help to reduce turnover as a result.

The other benefit is that it can offer your contact centre staff much-needed work/life balance as they have the opportunity to work from home. With the right tools in place, your contact centre agents can be just as (or more) productive working from home as they are in the office. This will also give you a handy hiring advantage over your competitors.

2. Implement artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots

By implementing AI and chatbots into your contact centre, you can take some of the pressure off your human agents. Chatbots can handle simple customer queries, leaving your human agents to deal with the more complex issues. This will help to reduce agent burnout, and as a result, turnover.

3. Use KPIs for staff recognition

Recognition goes a long way towards keeping staff happy, so why not use readily available KPI data to sit down with your staff and find out what they can do to improve their performance? By doing this, you’ll not only help them to feel valued, but you’ll also get a better understanding of what they need to do to deliver an excellent CX.

When it comes to reducing staff turnover in your contact centre, it’s important to take a holistic approach. By looking at the root causes of the problem, and implementing some technical solutions, you can help to create a more engaged and productive workforce that will stick around for the long haul.

If you’d like to learn more about how AI, agent empowerment, and cloud centre contact solutions can help improve your contact centre operations, please contact us. We’d be more than happy to help you find out how you can keep your best staff, your best staff.