Why so many contact center agents quit (and how to fix it)

Sara Yonker

February 27, 2023

The average customer service agent stays on their job for less than a year and research suggests that contact center annual turnover rate is often as high as 45%

How can leadership combat this? First, you must understand the root causes. While some agent turnover can be related to skill levels and compensation, there's another major factor in why agents quit their contact center jobs. The good part? It's something you can fix.

Retaining high-performing, quality agents requires a strategic approach. 

Reasons for high turnover rates at contact centers 

Here's an overview of the  factors that play into agent turnover. One common thread for all these reasons: empowerment. Empowering your agents can significantly improve their job satisfaction and job performance - not to mention improve the customer experience.

You need to empower your agents in order to retain them.

1.Lack of job satisfaction

When customer service agents don't have the power or authority to solve customer problems, they may feel frustrated and unfulfilled in their job. No one wants to spend all day on fruitless customer interactions. 

2. Reduced motivation

Feeling powerless to solve customer issues can lead to a lack of motivation in customer service agents, leading them to become disengaged with their work. If your contact center employees don't feel like they can help anyone, their motivation will suffer. 

3. Increased stress

Handling  complaints from angry customers  can be stressful on its own. When your contact center agents lack the authority to resolve the problems quickly, this can amplify their stress levels. This can negatively impact their mental health. 

4. Job burnout

When employees feel like they are not making progress or that their efforts are not valued, they may experience burnout and eventually quit. Burnout is common among call center agents due to the long hours, high pressure environment and lack of control over their work.

Signs of burnout may include reduced energy levels, increased absenteeism, a decrease in productivity or quality of work, and a lack of commitment to the job. Other signs of stress can include difficulty concentrating, increased irritability and restlessness.

5. Lower productivity

When customer service agents don't feel empowered to solve problems, they may struggle to maintain productivity levels, leading to poor performance and reduced efficiency. Signs of lower productivity include increased Average Handling Time, increased silence time on calls,

6. Team dynamics + high employee turnover rates

Keeping agents happy can have a ripple effect. Likewise, sometimes agent turnover rates can multiply if contact center reps don't feel a sense of community and purpose in your organization. Contact center managers can combat this by creating a positive employee experience so that one customer service agent leaving their job doesn't lead to multiple.

If some agents are empowered to solve problems while others are not, it can create a sense of unfairness and negatively impact team dynamics.

7. Reduced trust in management

When customer service agents feel that they are not being supported by management, they may lose trust in the organization.

How to improve high call center turnover rates

Improving your agent retention rate does more than just save you the cost of turnover. It also allows you to improve agent skill sets with advanced training, since you won't have a constant stream of initial training sessions. By keeping your agent turnover rate at a manageable level, you can also focus on improving employee experiences and customer experiences. 

The good news is, there are a few simple steps you can take to empower your contact center agents and keep them on board. Here are some tips to help reduce turnover rate in your call center:

1. Training programs 

Train agents thoroughly and make sure they have the knowledge and skills needed to provide excellent customer service. They need accurate information and sufficient training before they start taking customer calls. Lack of training can correspond to lower employee satisfaction.

2. Listen to agent feedback

Use feedback from your agents t to improve processes, policies, or procedures that may be causing problems for customers or agents alike. Perhaps your employees would prefer a hybrid schedule or remote work options. Find out if your company has confusing processes that agents need more information to understand. 

3. Give agents autonomy

Allow your customer service reps  to make decisions within their scope of responsibility without needing approval from senior leadership. 

4. Invest in company culture

Your customer service reps spend a good portion of their day at work, even if they work remotely. Invest in good corporate culture to nurture a sense of loyalty. This includes more than just financial incentives. Make sure they have advanced call center analytics software, proper collaboration tools, and reliable call center technology. Offer advancement opportunities and annual salary increases.

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