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December 06, 2007

New Report Examines UK Contact Center Performance: Part I

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

To gain a clear understanding of the performance of the global contact center market, a variety of research is conducted on specific countries or regions. With such information, an organization can better assess its own performance, as well as the performance of organizations within countries that may be under consideration for outsourcing.
The UK Contact Centre Operational Review studies the performance, operations, technology and HR aspects of 211 UK contact centre operations. By taking a random sample of the industry, a detailed structured questionnaire was used to produce a comprehensive study of all aspects of the UK contact center industry.
This research focuses heavily on the steadily increasing levels of staff attrition in the industry, as well as the causes. Key findings from this review include:
  • Mean agent attrition rates are remaining steady at 32% per year
  • This is the fifth successive annual rise in attrition rates
  • Attrition has been shown to decrease performance and customer satisfaction, lower morale and increase training and recruitment costs
  • The three main causes of contact center agent attrition are lack of opportunity, the repetitive nature of the work and low pay
  • Businesses that offer agents a chance to gain external qualifications have been shown to have fewer problems with staff attrition
  • Providing a range of tasks also decreases attrition rates
  • Contact centers that do not have problems with staff attrition pay agent salaries that are an average of £1,115 higher than attrition-hit businesses
Attrition can cause an organization a variety of problems, which can be intensified if a business has not planned properly. This research discovered that more than half of operations say that their churn rates are causing problems.

Even outsourcers are reporting attrition problems in 57 percent of cases, although many have built higher levels of attrition into their business plans.

While a certain level of attrition is expected and can even be good for an organization, excessive levels can cause other problems. In the contact center, the following issues can emerge:
  • Inexperienced agents provide a lower standard of customer care
  • The result is lower performance, customer satisfaction and profit
  • More pressure is put upon the remaining agents to maintain acceptable performance levels
  • The result is decreased general morale and increased likelihood of further attrition
  • The contact center spends all of its time trying to catch up, and with the cost of recruiting and training an agent estimated at £4,000 - £6,000, there is a significant cost to bear.
Rising attrition continues to be a problem in the contact center industry, but it does not have to be a given for all centers. There are ways to combat this trend, but first the organization must understand what is causing the increases. Check back tomorrow as we examine attrition causes and how to lower overall rates.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) (News - Alert) and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
 
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