Special Sauce for Lower Contact Center Attrition

You know the drill. Agents don’t get the training they need. Performance suffers. They lose confidence and become unsatisfied, and before you know it, they’re gone.

Not only is this expensive, but it’s your customers who ultimately pay the price, as unskilled and unhappy agents don’t typically deliver an outstanding customer experience.

We are currently building a contact center in Atlanta that averages less than 6% attrition per month, which is very competitive and much lower than the industry average. (Best in class contact centers typically have attrition rates of around 8%, but centers routinely experience 20% attrition with some as high as 50% per month.)

How are we doing this? It’s really not that complicated. Here’s our secret sauce:

  1. Hire the right people. Our agents go through multiple interviews to make sure they are the right fit. The final interview is with a floor supervisor for buy-in before we hire them. They also take a qualifying skills-based test to ensure they can handle the work.
  2. Pay a fair wage. Ever heard the adage, you get what you pay for? It’s true. Once you hire the right people, you have to pay them a fair wage. We pay our agents anywhere from $1.50-$2.00 more than the average starting wage.
  3. Give agents schedule flexibility. We allow our agents to bid on their schedules from the time they are out of class and have completed initial training. Agents have the flexibility to choose the schedules that are the best fit for them.
  4. Give them plenty of training. In class, agents receive a lot of individual attention through hands-on practice and role-plays. Once they get to the nesting stage, the ratio of lead agent to agents-in-training is 1:4. The goal is to make agents feel comfortable so that they can effectively do the job.
  5. Give them plenty of coaching. We audit our agents both side-by-side and remotely with a ton of coaching. We make it very clear that coaching is good – not punitive.
  6. Promote from within. Ninety percent of the time we promote from within, giving agents a clear understanding that there is a path and opportunity for promotion and career advancement.

The result of this “special sauce” is low contact center attrition, but the real benefit is that you have a more confident and skilled agent workforce that is more experienced and better equipped to handle customers and provide a consistent customer experience.

Ultimately, lower attrition also means lower training costs, which adds to your bottom line and makes your center a more productive and profitable part of the business.

About the author

Bob Fletcher

Bob leads the sales and solution delivery initiatives for Intradiem’s global business process outsourcing (BPO) clients, helping to transform their business models and drive profitability via Intraday Automation. He brings a wealth of operations, management and consulting acumen to the BPO practice, having delivered guidance to more than 1,000 call centers and trained over 5,000 managers and supervisors worldwide. Bob's experience includes executive management of Arvato's customer service operations and as executive vice president for Deutsche Telekom. Bob has also served in critical management roles in engagements with leading companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, Pitney Bowes, TeleDenmark, Gateway of Dublin, DecisionOne, Delta Dental, Wells Fargo and Cox Communications.

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