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Reducing Contact Center Attrition: Best Practices and Strategies

Explore proven strategies and best practices for reducing contact center attrition. Learn how to retain valuable agents and improve workforce stability.

Call center attrition is a common and expensive industry problem. According to McKinsey, attrition can bring the following costs per departing agent: 

  • $4,000 to $7,000 for upfront training    
  • $1,000 to $4,000 in direct recruiting costs   
  • $5,000-$10,000 in loss of productivity during ramp-up  

While some attrition is inevitable, most call center attrition can be prevented. In this article, we’ll go over some basics around attrition, offer some call center attrition examples, and a few recommended best practices to help curb attrition at your contact center.  

Contact Center Attrition Explained 

Contact center attrition happens for a lot of reasons. Some are involuntary (e.g., layoffs). However, voluntary attrition is a much larger problem. Agents may be dissatisfied with their compensation, scheduling, or manager; some might want to just leave the industry. But there are usually deeper issues. Agents might not be adequately trained; they could also be burned out or feel there is no real career path for them. They might feel disconnected from their work, or their employer. To curb call center attrition, leaders should examine and address why agents leave and what can be done differently.  

How To Calculate Contact Center Attrition Rate 

Here’s how to calculate the attrition rate: 

Determine the time period: Decide on the time frame. For example, you can calculate it monthly, quarterly, annually, or for any other specific period. 

Count departing employees: Count the number of employees who left the call center during the chosen period for any reason. 

Count total employees at the beginning: Determine the total number of employees at the start of the period, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal staff. 

Calculate the attrition rate: Use the formula below to calculate the attrition rate. Multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage. 

Attrition rate = (Number of Employees Who Left the Call Center During a Specific Period / Total Number of Employees at the Beginning of the Period) x 100 

Example: if you had 10 employees leave your call center during the last quarter, and you had 200 employees at the beginning of the quarter, you can calculate the call center attrition rate as follows: 

Attrition Rate = (10 / 200) x 100 = 5% 

The attrition rate for that specific quarter is 5%. 

Why is High Call Center Attrition Rate a Problem? 

High attrition in a contact center is a problem that can have widespread negative effects on both the organization and its customers. Here are some key reasons why high call center attrition is a concern: 

Increased costs: Organizations will need to hire and train new agents more frequently. Recruiting, onboarding, and training new staff is expensive and can strain the call center’s budget. 

Knowledge and experience gaps: Experienced employees take their expertise with them, including knowledge about processes, customer preferences, and best practices. This can lead to operational inefficiencies and a decrease in the quality of service while new agents work to reach the same level of competence. 

Increased training time: Supervisors, veteran employees, and other leaders will spend more time and resources on training new agents, rather than focusing on other areas. 

Lower morale: High contact center attrition rates can create an atmosphere of instability and low morale. Employees may feel overworked because of understaffing or discouraged by the constant turnover. 

Customer churn: Call center attrition can lead to longer wait times, escalations, and increased frustration – negatively impacting customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Difficulty in meeting SLAs: New agents will need time to reach proficiency, making it challenging to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and performance targets.  

Understanding the Causes of Contact Center Attrition 

The causes of call center attrition can range widely, and the reasons tend to have root causes. Below are a few examples of call center attrition root causes: 

Disconnected pre-boarding 
Aside from HR-related tasks, the time between the offer and the start date is often a period of disconnection. The new hire will not feel a connection with their new employer and might accept another offer. This can lead to first-day ghosting, where the new hire never shows up.  

Job shock
“Job shock,” is where the actual nature of a new hire’s role differs from what they expected, and they don’t feel confident in their ability to succeed. (We take a deeper dive into job shock in this on-demand webinar.) 

Insufficient training 
Training and development are crucial for retention by setting new agents up for success and boosting performance.  If training, knowledge reinforcement, and/or coaching sessions are lacking, agents won’t be confident or perform well – and will walk away from the company sooner or later. 

Disconnection and disengagement 
Employees may not feel ownership over their work or their progress. They might also not feel aligned with their goals, their manager, their team, or all of the above. Not only can this lead to underperformance, but it can also result in employees delivering the bare minimum before eventually leaving.  

Workloads and customer expectations are on the rise, and so is employee burnout. Employees (including supervisors) across industries, particularly in areas such as financial services and utilities, might feel especially drained and disconnected.  

Limited career and development opportunities
Modern employees want to grow professionally and will go where they can do that – whether at their current company or elsewhere. If their company offers that opportunity, that employee is 20% more likely to stay.   

Best Practices for Reducing Contact Center Attrition

Best practices for reducing contact center attrition include these recommendations: 

Optimize pre-boarding and onboarding 
Are new hires kept connected and engaged between the time of their offer and their start date? Once onboard, is the employee given a guided, personalized, engaging learning experience? Optimizing these elements of the employee experience can increase contact center retention and accelerate time to proficiency.  

Boost training 
Training and development should span the entire employee lifecycle.  Targeted microlearning is an incredibly effective tool, delivering short learning modules within the flow of work based on knowledge and performance gaps and enabling better knowledge retention. Also consider leveraging generative AI to create frontline training materials faster and at scale. 

Elevate coaching 
Coaching should be personalized and delivered in the moment of need. But the preparation can be time consuming. Automating the data collection and analysis process, coaching continuously, and having actionable insights and the best next steps go a long way toward empowering both employees and managers to gain more from coaching sessions.   

Provide career progression 
Providing a visible career path is critical to employee retention. Call center employees aren’t just at work for a paycheck. They want to turn their job into a meaningful career. As part of coaching, ensure that employees can see a development roadmap and career progression.  

Support the whole employee
Stress and burnout are on the rise. By remembering that employees are human beings first and conducting wellness checks, supervisors can help their teams cope with challenges and foster a healthier, more open, and more productive workplace.   

Get gamified 
Gamification is the practice of applying game mechanics (such as leaderboards, badges, etc.) to a non-game context. This strategy taps into intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and engages employees, adding some fun to their workday and resulting in higher performance and retention rates.   

Meet Centrical — #1 Performance Management Gamification Platform  

Centrical’s Employee Performance eXPerience Platform provides a robust solution that helps mitigate the risk of contact center attrition across the employee lifecycle. Our platform includes real-time performance insights, AI-powered microlearning and training content creation, augmented coaching, and employee wellness. This is all tied together with advanced gamification to keep employees connected, engaged, performing, and retained. 

See the Centrical platform in action with a quick preview 

Summary and Key Takeaways 

Contact center attrition is a common challenge across contact center types and geography. Not only is attrition expensive, but it can adversely affect a brand’s reputation. Below are a few takeaways: 

  • Contact center attrition impacts the entire organization, contributing to high costs, low morale, and as a result, poor customer experience. 
  • Contact center attrition can be voluntary and involuntary. This can include layoffs, first-day ghosting, leaving shortly after higher, later attrition due to burnout or a lack of a career path, and other reasons.  
  • Best practices for preventing contact center attrition include an optimized connected pre-boarding experience, continuous learning, augmented coaching, gamification, and keeping track of employee wellness. 

For over a decade, Centrical has helped organizations across the globe and industries boost employee motivation, engagement, and performance while decreasing attrition rates. To learn more about how Centrical can help reduce call center attrition, watch the platform in action with a short preview, and request your personalized demo today.  

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