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Agent turnover is a problem in many contact centres. High turnover equals high recruitment costs, high training costs and a less productive workforce.
There are many drivers of attrition in contact centres. Research indicates the key drivers include the repetitive nature of the work, limited opportunities for advancement, a perception of non-competitive remuneration, and lower engagement due to agents not seeing themselves basing their careers around contact centres.
These factors pose tough challenges for Contact Centre Managers to overcome. To manage agent turnover more effectively here a four aspects of an analytical approach to managing agent turnover.
This sounds simple enough however many organisations forget that the best way to focus attention on an issue is to measure it.
To avoid any confusion in your measurements it’s best to use an industry standard formula. The ICMI recommended technique to calculate annualised turnover is:
The number of agents that stopped being agents in a month / The total number of agents in that month x 12 months.
For an example of how that works check out this great article: http://www.icmi.com/Blog/2011/February/Call-Center-Turnover-A-Tough-Measure
Once you have a robust measure you can track the performance over time and report on your successes.
The Cost of Turnover
Once you can track how many agents are leaving you can then start to convert this into the financial cost of turnover. Nothing gets executive support for turnover-reducing initiatives faster than a good financial analysis.
Showing a good return on investment (ROI) is typically the way to justify initiatives. Unfortunately ROI doesn’t work so well when you’re considering employees. The reason is that it’s hard to quantify an individual’s contribution to revenue. Without your contact centre agents your revenue would dry up quickly, but to actually allocate revenue to agents is often problematic.
A good way to avoid the complexities of employee ROI is to instead focus on the average full employee cost. This is the salary that you pay plus the cost of recruitment, training and management.
This links your turnover to your staff costs. When reviewing staff costs the conversation becomes “Here are my staff costs with attrition at x%, and here they are at y%.” The difference in dollar terms is the amount turnover is costing you. (Contact me if you want a hand with this one. It’s not complex but it requires your staffing plans to incorporate training and supervisor requirements based on your staff numbers and recruitment decisions.)
With this figure you can make justified requests for funds to reduce your turnover.
Track the Reasons for Turnover
Understanding a total turnover is one thing but if you’re going to attack the problem you’ll need more detail. The best way to do this is the obvious: ask them. This doesn’t need to be a full exit interview but at a minimum ask agents to pick from one of 10 or so possible reasons. Also, allow them to pick more than one reason. A decision to leave is rarely attributable to one reason only so collect as much detail as possible.
Over time you will see trends emerge. These will give you a good objective case for any initiatives.
Positive vs. Negative Turnover
You should also consider what level of turnover you think is healthy. Some level of turnover is typically considered good for a centre. New employees bring fresh energy and new ideas. Zero attrition can be a red flag that something is not right. Maybe your supervisors are not performance managing? Maybe your centre is succumbing to ‘group think’ and missing opportunities to innovate?
The Analytical Approach
High turnover in contact centres gets a lot of attention. By taking an analytical approach you will have a better understanding of your centre’s turnover and uncover the opportunities to target specific areas to improve your centre’s turnover.