North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Step 5 Agent Turnover

Turnover in contact centers is higher than any other industry; rates can go as high has 80%. Agent attrition has an enormous impact on contact centers bottom lines, morale and customer satisfaction.

Turnover is the result of many issues; everyone claims “he is not the right fit”, the competition is paying more and has more robust benefits, and the number one reason for leaving is issues with immediate supervisors. And unique to contact centers is the lack of mobility for agents within the company. If the company is headquartered elsewhere, employees feel dead-ended with job career and advancement.

While these are all good reasons why agents leave, has anyone looked at the actual job itself? It is a tough job! It is extremely difficult to sit in a small space on top of another agent, repeating the same disclosures, asking the same questions over and over, and selling the same upgrade all in a very stressful environment. Is the free pizza the site manager sprung for going to make them feel less tired? Less stressed? How about the balloons tied to the agents’ desk? Do they really make agents feel less tension and anxiety?

Making the agent’s job easier and more bearable starts with automating tasks. What can you do to make agents feel better about showing up? How can you turn a boring job into an interesting job? For example, the disclosures that are the same can be prerecorded and played by the agent. Much like the airlines playing the safety video instead of having flight attendants go through the painful process of showing how to fasten a seatbelt. Prerecorded disclosures are much more professional, pleasant to listen to and offer a refreshing voice for the caller.

Take the stress out of the job by automating steps integrating the CRM and contact center platform. Create online forms and fill in the blank forms that make processes error-proof. Once integrated these forms will automatically update other systems, minimizing the number of applications agents are required to work in and therefore learn and master. Are agents forgetting after-call notes? How about a screen pop or CTI; agents can’t fail to miss it. These types of automations help agents meet expectations. When agents succeed in doing their jobs they stick around.

When agents show up every day they want to do a great job for the company and for the customer. Agents want to be successful. Nothing impedes this more then when the agent’s tools are broken, outdated or cumbersome. Today’s entry-level contact center agent grew up on electronic games and has a higher level of expectation of what is fast and fun. If you are running an old application that is cumbersome, slow, and has the black DOS screen it is not fun to use nor easy to learn. Does that system have limitations preventing the agent from doing his job; creating frustration and stress? Stress is the number one reason for absenteeism. Does the agent need to login to multiple applications to perform a simple function and 10 extra minutes to talk times? Do you have applications that are constantly not working and agents need to use work-arounds? Broken tools are de-motivators and morale busters. Broken tools add frustration and stress because the agent can’t do the best job he knows he can to do service the customer. He just wants to go home at the end of the day knowing he did a good job.

Agents get satisfaction when they can easily and successfully satisfy the customer. Survey after survey shows that money is not the end all to job satisfaction. To make the job less stressful and easier start listening to agents for input. W. Edwards Deming walked the manufacturing floor to listen to production line workers’ ideas. Job satisfaction isn’t always about money and benefits; it is more intrinsic. Agents work the phones daily and thus see opportunities for improvement. They can share ideas about how and what to automate and how to make things run better. Agents want the satisfaction of being heard. “If you hear me you value you me. If you put my suggestions into practice you value me. If you make the job easier, you value me.” Employees desire to succeed and want to contribute to the company’s success. Listen and implement employee process improvement suggestions.


Don’t be afraid to let go. Fire the underperformers. Underperformers dominate supervisor’s time, energy and resources pretending to improve only to end up being terminated.
Recognize and reward in real-time. Celebrate an agent’s success by making it social and tangible.

Take the Next Step!

There are numerous retention strategies that focus on the recruiting process, compensation, recognition and other “feel good” games and parties intended to make it a great place to work. Change your focus from trying to change the environment to focusing on making the job less stressful and more interesting.

Today’s contact center platforms and CRMs can automate many of the mundane tasks that agents have to repeat over and over. Use technology to create processes that makes agents successful and engaged. Don’t delay in making these kinds of changes, the sooner your agents feel good about their jobs the less likely they will quit. Make your place a great place to work.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.