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31 July 2019

Top tips for tackling agent attrition in the call centre

By: Lauri Tamberrino

With unemployment rates in the U.S. hovering around 2.5%,  it is becoming more important to hold on to the contact centre employees that companies already have in place. The pool of qualified applicants grows smaller because of lower unemployment rates but also for other reasons, such as potential employees becoming more discerning of not only the job descriptions but also taking in to account the corporate culture of a prospective employer, the online reviews of previous employees and word of mouth via social media about a company.

Having a pool of qualified applicants to pull from is not the only major concern for contact centres. There is also the factor of cost. Not only is contact centre attrition costly in terms of new hires, but it can also contribute to costly errors made by new, untrained, unskilled agents. So why do contact centre employees start looking elsewhere? In exit interviews of contact centre agents, it is not uncommon to hear a recurring theme of being over-supervised, not being allowed to operate with greater autonomy, restrictive scheduling, and negative work environments, among other things.

While some things, like schedules, are not able to really be affected, there are lots of small changes that can be made in the contact centre that would improve working conditions for agents and encourage them to remain with their current employer. In this blog, we give you our 8 top tips for reducing agent attrition.

Top tips for tackling agent attrition in the call centre

1. Looser break scheduling

By providing agents with greater insight into the current call queue and staffing, supervisors can give agents more autonomy on when to take small breaks. This can greatly improve agents’ morale, especially when they feel like they need a few minutes away to recover from a particularly challenging interaction with a customer.

2. Public agent kudos

It is always great to let agents know when they receive a customer or coworker compliment but taking it a step further and displaying it where the entire contact centre can view it really amplifies the message that the entire company understands and appreciates the front line agents dealing with customers day in and day out.

3. Flexible Work Environments

Sitting for eight hours a day is not good for anyone, and research has born that out. Providing agents with the ability to have standing desks or non-traditional seating can improve not only their mental health but their physical health as well.

4. Remote Work Options

When possible, giving agents the opportunity to work remotely part or full time can pay dividends in not only improving agent morale, but it can also reduce operating expenses. The operating budget for a contact centre can be greatly reduced if 30% of the front line agents can operate remotely rather than coming into a cubicle every day.

5. Flex work schedules

Many front line agents report stress from less than ideal work schedules. While that problem cannot be completely solved, especially if a contact centre provides 24/7 support, allowing front line agents to be more creative in their scheduling can go a long way in promoting a happy work environment. 

6. Streamline Programs

Agents consistently report feeling overwhelmed with the number of different programs they are required to interact with for each customer engagement. Making streamlined views, such as one browser window that shows current call and agents stats, allows agents to have fewer programs up and running on their desktop, which can reduce “program fatigue”.

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7. Easy to use infomalls

Many agents report feeling frustrated by hard to locate or constantly changing guidelines and information. Implementing an easy to use self-serve system for front line agents to quickly and efficiently gain access to a knowledge base will decrease both the agent’s and customer’s frustrations during interactions.

8. Customer Experience Department

If your contact centre does not already have a Customer Experience Department, setting one up can not only improve the interactions that your customers have with your company but also clearly send the message to your front line agents that the work they do on a daily basis with customers is one of the most important factors to your business.

Deloitte says that 85% of businesses project that agent interactions with customers will become more complex in the next couple of years. Creating an atmosphere, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that is encouraging and supportive of your contact centre agents can go a long way to reduce costs from attrition. And in the age of social media, having an employee brag about their job to their social circles can act as another form of organic marketing. When contact centre agents are happy and engaged with their jobs, they can act as walking billboards for their employer, announcing that not only do you care about your customers but you also care about your front line agents that take care of your customers on a daily basis.

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