One of the most valuable assets within the contact center is the contact center agent. At the same time, the agent can be the biggest cost to the contact center, especially if that agent is unhappy in the job and decides to leave the company. The center then must absorb the cost of the lost employee and the recruiting, hiring and training cost of the replacement.
As attrition costs are a preventable expenditure within the contact center, it is important to understand why employees leave their position. According to an industry benchmarking study, agents cited promotion within a company as the primary reason for agent turnover – a positive reflection on the industry.
Promotion was cited by 40.7 percent of respondents and can be encouraging for contact centers, showing that agents are leaving their position to take another within the same company. While this is a positive reflection on the industry, a close second of 38.7 percent were respondents who reported leaving an agent position because they did not like the job.
Methods of recruitment are important to consider as the agent’s level of understanding of what the job entails can have a significant impact on their ability to perform the job well and enjoy the tasks associated with this performance. In situations where the agent could see the contact center and gain first hand knowledge of the agent role, turnover can be dramatically reduced.
As preventing agent turnover has become a priority for many contact centers, strategies for conducting business have changed. In as many as 57.6 percent of contact centers, flexibility scheduling has been offered to agents. This strategy not only makes variable shifts available for agents, it also allows the contact center to meet certain service levels.
Flexibility in schedules can also be used as a motivator within the contact center. Managers may offer top performers or agents with the most longevity the schedule of their choice. Some centers have also implemented workforce management programs with scheduling options that will allow agents to request a specific schedule, days off or vacation time.
As career advancement continues to be important to many agents within the contact center, managers can use strategies associated with advancement to recruit and motivate agents. Establishing clear paths for advancement allows agents to set goals for advancing in rank and salary, which leads to higher satisfaction.
Contact center managers also cited other methods for reducing agent turnover that included team work, education, bonus reviews, taking agent suggestions seriously, more thorough screening when recruiting, a focus on motivation tools, tuition programs and open communication.
While not all agents will respond positively to programs established within the contact center, the fact that leaders within these organizations are recognizing the importance of these individuals and striving to keep them in place and happy is a step in the right direction to reducing turnover and improving the bottom line.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi