8 Tips to Reduce Your Call Center Turnover Rate
“We need to hire more call center agents.” Those words can send a shiver through any hiring manager. These days, of course, call center hiring managers are getting used to it because they are in a constant stage of hiring agents.
Either the department is scaling, agents are quitting, or they have to let underperforming agents go. And, every time you have to hire new call center agents, it’s costly.
Working with call centers, I’ve seen the struggle to keep call centers fully staffed. And I’ve worked with them to build clearer policies, processes, and procedures in their ScreenSteps knowledge base.
Ultimately, this has put less pressure on call center agents to memorize everything (reducing their frustration and their desire to quit during onboarding).
Now, some things related to turnover are out of your control. Those are called gravity problems. There’s nothing you can do about gravity. It exists and you just have to deal with it and adapt instead of lamenting about those problems all the time.
Keeping your documentation clear and user-friendly is NOT a gravity problem. It’s one of several things that managers can control. And there are other things that are in your control when it comes to decreasing your call center attrition rate.
We can focus on those things.
This blog post primarily focuses on situations where agents choose to quit, but the principles can be applied to those who need to be let go as well. Here are eight tips to help you reduce your call center turnover rate, creating an environment where agents choose to stay.
1. Hire the right people
Right now, most businesses in the United States are experiencing a labor deficit. Because there aren’t enough workers to fill the seats, sometimes it is tempting to just hire anybody who comes into your doors.
But if you just hire anyone willing to work for your company, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a right fit for your call center or that you are the right fit for them.
Know what soft and hard skills your candidates will need to have in order to succeed in your contact center. You want everyone you hire to have the chance to succeed on the job. What do they have to know? And what would be a bonus if they knew before starting the job?
Ideally, your candidates will have all of the following skills:
- Be capable of handling callers (soft skills)
- Be able to grasp the technical knowledge related to the product or service they are supporting
- Be comfortable using several information systems
While you can’t uncover all the red flags during your interview questions, you can get a sense as to whether they will be able to handle the types of calls coming in.
2. Provide clear call flows
Write clear call flows that your agents can follow while on a call. It should be so intuitive to follow that your agents don’t need to put the caller on hold. Here’s why:
During college, my wife worked at a Halloween costume call center for a few months. While it wasn’t too difficult, there were times where she had to put disgruntled customers on hold because there were no clear procedures for what to do.
She’d have to wait for her supervisor to be available so she could get help.
If that kind of situation is happening all the time at your call center, it gets old real fast — especially when customers have to be put on hold for a long time (and like to complain about it) AND your reps are being measured on their hold time metric.
You are setting your agents up for failure in that scenario.
The more transparent your procedures are for handling all kinds of situations, the less frustrating it will be for your reps to handle calls.
If your reps are underperforming, evaluate your procedures and job aids to determine if you are providing the best type of resources.
3. Have a development plan for reps
Not all reps want to do continuous learning — but for those who do, you should have a plan in place for them to continue learning and developing.
This could include cross-training opportunities, gaining a deeper understanding, or developing skills that can transfer to other aspects of life (i.e. conflict resolution, up-selling, etc.).
You could formalize the continuous learning program with badges/certifications to recognize learning and performance. Or you provide learning for personal development and growth in the company.
Recognize that your reps are getting smarter and better at their job and developing skills that are valuable to your team.
Note: Not all turnover is bad. When you keep your agents happy with learning and growth opportunities, chances are they will leave the job. The goal is that when they leave it is for a promotion or internal hiring in a different position at your company.
Call center agents are often the first place internal hiring teams will look if they have an opening in another department (i.e. sales, training, etc.).
4. Create a community feeling in your call center
It’s easy to get caught up in doing the job and forgetting that other people work at your call center. Especially if reps are working remotely.
Be intentional about getting people engaged and connected to one another.
Customer Service Week is a great opportunity to recognize, connect, and engage with your reps. But, don’t let that be the only time you do Olympic games, play call center bingo, or buy lunch for your reps.
Answering calls all day every day is really difficult! Give your reps more to look forward to when they come to work.
5. Enable your reps to have a say in how calls are handled
When reps are using your learning resources to handle calls (i.e. procedures, call flows, job aids), allow them to provide feedback on them. How easy are they to use? How up-to-date are the guides? Does the phrasing feel outdated?
Allowing them to engage and contribute gives them a feeling of ownership and contribution. When you give opportunities to provide feedback and then truly listen, it empowers your employees and strengthens the sense of a team working toward a common goal.
An added bonus is it helps keep your documentation up to date. Your reps are on the frontlines. They use your guides every day to answer calls. They will recognize when something is off in your policies, processes, and procedures.
6. Recognize effort and achievement
Let your reps know that you appreciate their effort, not just their accomplishments. If they are regularly doing the right things — even if they aren’t setting records — let them know!
A simple email or chat saying, “Great job following our call flows during your calls.” Or send a message showing that you see their efforts like, “Great job in hopping from one call to the next and being reliable.”
If your reps are accomplishing great things — such as lower hold times, higher QA scores, etc. — then let them know you appreciate their effort to make it happen.
7. Provide monetary rewards and/or bonuses
Nothing speaks like money. Provide incentives for reps to stick around longer. Many jobs include bonuses and regular pay raises. Alternatively, companies hand out rewards cards, gift cards, or other perks for sticking around.
Create an incentives program. You could have a bonus for completing training. Or you could include a bonus for working for the call center for a certain amount of time (6 months, a year, etc.). This can build into your quarterly performance reports.
You can even have competitions for specific metrics (i.e. lowest call handle time, fewest mistakes, etc.) that result in an award. Or have money bonuses for the MVP each month.
8. Provide personal feedback to help them grow
Sometimes call centers take their new agents through onboarding training and then throw them onto calls, forgetting them unless they have questions.
Instead of leaving your agents to fend for themselves, provide opportunities to receive instruction from team leads and management.
Show reps they are needed and valued by providing personal feedback. Make the feedback specific.
Instead of, “You need to do a better job listening,” you can say, “I’m noticing that during the intake, you’re doing a great job asking questions and building rapport, but it seems that you’re missing some of the details that the caller is providing you and you’re asking redundant questions later on that they’ve already answered.”
Then use coaching skills to explore ways that they can make improvements or by doing role-playing exercises. This personalized attention shows you are investing in the agent, encouraging them to stay with the company.
Provide constant support with clearly written call flows
Ultimately, there will be some turnover in your company. But, if you can create a comfortable work environment, encourage agents, and provide growth opportunities, you have a better chance of keeping the call center agents you hire.
You don’t want your agents to ever feel like they are alone in their jobs. One of the best ways to provide constant support is by clearly documenting your call flows.
With ScreenSteps, you can quickly and easily write your call flows and share them with your entire call center. Using simple — yet powerful — content creation tools, you can provide step-by-step instructions that clearly articulate each question the agent needs to ask and where to go from there.
When written correctly, guides in ScreenSteps make it so your agents don’t need to put a caller on hold while on a call.
Don’t know how to write a call flow? Or are you looking for tips on how to write clearer call flows for your agents to follow? Use these tips on how to write your first call flow to get started.