In a Cornell University ILR School report titled The US Call Center Industry: Strategy, HR Practices, and Performance, the average call center turnover rate was 33%. That’s one out of every three employees leaving the call center. According to the report, the average cost to screen and train each new employee was $4,300.

Your call center spends a lot of money advertising jobs, interviewing employees, and training them. Does it make sense to waste that money through high turnover? In addition, if you constantly have new employees, your productivity is lower. Is your call center turnover costing your business too much money?

It doesn’t.

So what’s a call center manager to do?

Preventing Call Center Turnover

There are a few basic strategies that a call center manager can use to help prevent call center turnover:

  1. Problem solving opportunities – Would you want to go to a job where you read a script everyday and do the same thing every day? Would you like to be a robot? Of course not. The Cornell report found that call centers with at least 30 percent of the workforce in problem solving groups had 50% lower quitting rates. Give employees chances for creative problem solving. Let them figure out ways to increase customer satisfaction. Give them the chance to create strategies for dealing with angry customers. Make their job require more involvement and they won’t get bored.
  2. Empowerment – Employees who feel they have no power to solve customer problems will feel like their job has little meaning. They will feel like cogs in a machine–that they don’t matter. Consequently, they won’t care whether they stay or quit. Give your employees the power to manage themselves and resolve problems. The Cornell report found that call centers with at least 30 percent of employees in self directed work groups had a 38% lower quit rate. Make employees feel like they have worth, that they can actually have an impact.
  3. Training and advancement opportunities – Your call center employees will view their jobs as dead ends if you don’t provide advancement opportunities. They will feel like they can’t move upwards unless they quit. Most call centers have a very flat management structure, creating few opportunities for advancing. Try to change that. Organize your agents in a skills based system, giving more complex calls to more experienced agents. Allow experienced agents to advance elsewhere in the organization. Provide training opportunities so employees can acquire the skills for different positions.

The benefits of better call center employee management are numerous. One study found that sales productivity in self directed groups was 25 percent higher than in traditional groups. In addition, improved turnover can lead to better morale and better customer service.

Can your call center benefit from a change of the status quo? Do you have a great way to reduce turnover? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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