3. December 2020 Blog

High staff turnover rate in your call center: how to manage (or avoid) it?

High staff turnover isn’t just a “call center thing” - it’s a serious problem that can hurt both your company’s reputation and revenue. What is the reason for it and how can you tackle it?

When thinking about call centers, many people imagine it as relatively easy work. And if that were the truth, the job of a customer support or sales agent would be one of the easiest ones in the world. But it's sadly the opposite of reality. Whether your employees are in customer support or sales, their job is anything but easy. Call center staff have to deal with various quotas or targets to meet, rejections, complaints, and rude or demanding customers. Their work is stressful, monotonous, and often underappreciated. 

Expectations of exceptional customer support are only growing, as are upper management demands of increasing monthly quotas. But despite growing expectations, call center workers’ salaries or career advancement options often remain the same. 

No wonder that the staff turnover rate in call centers is the highest of all industries. According to a DailyPay study, call center turnover rates vary from 17% for small offices up to even 44% for large ones! 

What's more, the time an agent spends in a call center before quitting is decreasing as well. In their research, Bridge Group found out that the tenure of an average sales rep has reduced by half since 2010 (from 3 years to 1.5 years). So what is the problem?

Reasons for the high turnover rate 

#1 Low job satisfaction

Let's be honest here, the job of call center staff is pretty demanding. Not only do they need patience and steel nerves to answer customers' questions and issues, or to make cold-calls, but they also have various after-call tasks to perform and quotas to fill. It’s no surprise then that, according to Marc Wayshak’s research, only 17.5% of salespeople said their job satisfaction is “outstanding”, while 47% answered that it’s “okay”.

If an agent is overworked or disengaged, their customer support or sales performance will obviously be much lower. That would lead to decreased customer satisfaction and even lower job satisfaction, until the employee decides to quit altogether.

#2 High expectations

Both customers and upper management have high benchmarks for the work of customer support or sales reps, sometimes unrealistically so. In some companies, new workers are simply handed a list of company guidelines and performance expectations. Management expects them to nail their quotas from day one, without any earlier training and with no room for mistakes.

What's more, the requirements only continue to increase. Customers have also become far more demanding, since they now expect a quick and precise reply straight away. And let's not even mention the possibility of unpleasant or outright aggressive callers that simply want to vent. 

#3 Lack of quality workplace technology

Sometimes it's not the employees who should be blamed for poor performance or low KPI metrics. Call center equipment and software can either make it much easier and faster for support and sales agents to work, or quite the opposite.

  • Waiting for a slow system to respond?
  • Poor sound quality?
  • Several tools required just to complete one task finished?
  • A lack of training in how to use a given system?

All of these issues frustrate employees daily, especially if their struggles go on unnoticed by management. 

Some such difficulties can be solved by providing enough training in how to use the available system, but if it being outdated is the real problem then the only solution is to update the call center software. 

What is the staff turnover rate?

Staff turnover rate is the percentage of employees who leave a company every year. To calculate the value, take the number of workers who quit their job, divide it by the total number of employees, and multiply it by 100 to obtain a percentage. The formula looks like this:

Attrition rate = number of attritions/average number of employees x 100

 

Think your turnover rate is pretty high, but you can always hire new people? Having an employee leaving your call center every few months doesn't only mean you have an empty seat to fill.  You also need to spend money on hiring and training a replacement, plus wait until they start achieving their quota. According to one source, this can cost as much as $115,000. Not to mention, how many clients or sales opportunities could be lost in that time? 

Of course, it's completely impossible to reduce your staff turnover rate to zero. Having employees retire or move elsewhere is simply unavoidable. But if you are losing employees faster than you can see the results of their work, it's high time to have a closer look at the daily work of your call center.

How can you lower a high turnover rate in your call center?

#1 Ask your staff for feedback

To deal with a soaring staff turnover rate, you first need to learn what the reasons for it are. 48% of employees say that if they were asked for their feedback and the management acted upon it, this would definitely help to keep staff from leaving the company.

But rather than ask for general, vague feedback, you should ask precise questions about what could be improved.

  • What problems/issues do they have?
  • What do they want to improve?
  • How satisfied or not are they with their job, and why?
  • What would they want to get from you to make their job easier?

With feedback from their side, you will be on the right track to improving your employees' working environments and lowering the staff turnover rate. That is, if you actually implement changes based on their opinions. If feedback surveys don't change anything, your employees will simply ignore them in the future.

After all, why should they bother if the last one didn't change anything? Instead of lowering a high turnover rate, such surveys may then just cause it to rise even more.

#2 Have a regular onboarding and training schedule

Do you have an onboarding and training plan for your new and current employees? A lack of proper training can make employees feel like they don't fit in a company. Not only can they have problems with tasks and the tools being used, but they may not understand the company’s goals either. A good training schedule can help with those issues! What's more, it can also improve employee engagement and retention, since adequately trained workers feel more confident. 

Which training method you use (hands-on training, team activities, or coaching) depends on you and the type of your business, but it's a good idea to mix different methods - otherwise, employees will quickly lose focus out of boredom. 

#3 Provide your employees with proper tools

A slow system, communication issues between team members, or a lack of clear guidelines on dealing with angry customers might seem like small problems. But if they occur daily, it will affects both your agents' performance and their job satisfaction.

On the other hand, having detailed guideline material with all of the necessary information related to support or sales will help your staff move forward without having to guess what they are supposed to do next - and that will naturally improve productivity.

A modern CRM tool and a virtual call center system will also be of great help for your team. A CRM tool can take care of updating, storing, and organizing customers' data, while a virtual cloud center can handle all of the simple and monotonous tasks from your staff’s workload. This will speed up their jobs and free up more time for customer support or sales calls.

#4 Appreciate your agents

One of the biggest reasons for low staff engagement and motivation is a lack of appreciation for their hard work. According to CMOE, nearly 50% of employees would consider leaving their job if they felt unappreciated. If they only hear complaints or more demands from the higher-ups, how can employees remain positive and engaged? Meanwhile, hearing words of praise for achieving their quotas or dealing with difficult clients is a fantastic way to keep team morale high.

Another great way to show appreciation to your team members is through various incentives. Here you have plenty of options:

  • coupons or gift cards
  • extra days off
  • office services.

Such incentives will be even more valuable if you let your staff pick the rewards themselves.

#5 Set a clear career path

Another often mentioned reason why your support or sales agents may suffer burnout and decide to leave the company? A lack of possibilities to advance their careers in the company. Most people don’t want to cold-call or work in technical support for their whole lives - they want better positions, higher salaries, and more responsibilities. But if there's no way to gain a promotion, then why work hard at exceeding the quota? It's equally bad if there is a promotion opportunity available, but no one knows what exactly is required to get there.

Have a clear description of:

  • what promotion opportunities exist in your company
  • what you expect of employees
  • what they should do in order to get promoted.

But rather than a vague description of when you think someone may deserve a promotion, set specific and measurable goals for your employees to achieve. This will also help you provide feedback about their' performance and suggestions on what they should improve. 

#6 Hold An Exit Interview

91% of Fortune 500 companies and 87% of mid-sized companies ask leaving employees for feedback. Since those people are no longer employed at your call center, they are also much more likely to share their honest opinions and offer tips for improving the situation of current and new staff. So use this opportunity to talk with them about their reasons for leaving, their work experience, any issues or pain points they had while working for your company, and their suggestions for improvement

Conclusion

Try as you might, you can never achieve a 0% staff turnover rate. Having an employee eventually leave your company is as certain as death and taxes (to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin). However, if a new employee leaves after just a short time of being hired then you might have a serious problem on your hands. You can do several things to improve the situation - starting from learning what causes employees to quit your company, and then improving their working environments to build a happier, more motivated, and more productive team.