It may sound obvious. Retaining quality employees is critical to any business, especially in today's tight labor market. However, employee retention metrics (or sometimes reported as employee attrition) are often a detail that is not taken serious enough when reviewing quarterly P&L. It can dramatically impact costs (Budgets), quality (Net Promoters Scores/CSAT) and Sales Revenue (Profit and/or Loss). To put it another way, high employee turnover in your contact center really impedes growth.
So, what to do? Well, this is a subject that has been discussed for years by many experts and analysts. I'd like to bring a more simplistic solution to retain quality employees which, for more than eight-years running multiple contact centers, has worked well and allowed us to achieve a 10% to 15% annual attrition rate year-over-year.
Your Call Center Agents are Professionals. Now, I know that many companies know this. But I have been all over the world to many different countries and cultures, and this is not always the case, based on the many call centers I have witnessed. This means your agents should be treated like all other employees who are not part of your contact center team. Call center agents perform very important work, and they have very important skills that are essential to your success. Incentify them. Set clear expectations of what is expected of them. Hold them accountable. Reward them as you would with any other "non call center employee." Communicate daily with them, and maintain a professional atmosphere and culture at all times. Lastly, your C-level's should make sure they spend time regularly within your call center and should interact regularly with all of your customer service teams.
Hire Great Supervisors and Keep your Teams Small. Your front-line supervisors are critical to your success. They are responsible for managing our call center teams toward success. We keep our Supervisor to Call Center Agent ratio to about 1:10. This results in high quality service and very low turnover. The smaller teams end up becoming "family," where they work together as a team and hold each other accountable as a team. It takes a very good supervisor to create this culture and to manage it this way. So, invest in great supervisors (i.e. managers).
To Serve Others. This is the Mission Statement of our company. We implemented a servant-led management style many years ago, with the goal of making our call center agents the "center" of what we do within our organization. They are the ones on the phone serving our clients and their customers, so they need support from management. When we make key decisions about new processes, technologies or training, we always solicit feedback from our agents who will be directly involved with these changes, to make sure we understand the impact on how such changes may impact their job. This is very important.
These three initiatives, when implemented correctly can, and will, reduce attrition within your contact center operations. It has for us over the past eight years. I hope this provides some insight as you think further about your operating culture and how to reduce attrition.
- Steve Shefveland, Founder
Emerging Global Services, LLC