Call Center Attrition Rates Are At An All Time Low. Lol JK.

Author: Ted Bauer
Monday, June 12, 2017 Agent Attrition, Costs and Measurement

call center attrition rates

Call center attrition rates are going up before they go down, and that’s a challenging aspect for your business. Let’s walk through a few things you need to know here.

First: the broader landscape. The average worker lasts about 4.2 to 4.6 years on the job right now across North America (all industries). In 2017, it’s expected somewhere between 41-50% of workers globally will leave their jobs, with the No. 1 reason for departure typically being “bad management” or “treated poorly.” (Compensation is up there, yes.) Call center attrition rates, though, are worse than these numbers — often call centers have a 1.1 year average tenure, and many have a tenure lower than even that.

Second: the cost landscape. This has been the white whale of call center / HR accounting concepts for a decade or more. There are hundreds of different figures about what an attrit represents financially. In the firms we’ve worked with and some others we’ve analyzed, we have our own numbers. U.S.-based $11/hour call centers with three weeks of training, one week of nesting, and a six-month productivity ramp tend to lose $7,200 per attrit. Similar call centers in the Philippines lose about $3,500 per attrit. If you question our math, that’s OK. Here’s how you know that we are rigorous about our calculations.

Third: very few call center managers, and even fewer executives, seem to fully understand this math.

Let’s pause.

Here’s the overall landscape: call center attrition rates are not at all-time lows — they’re rising — and that is assuredly losing you some money somewhere. But just how much seemingly can’t be agreed upon (not good) and oftentimes, the people tasked with making these decisions based off this data don’t even understand the data. Start taking responsibility for your own analytics, indeed.

But at this point, all we’ve done is outline a problem. Where’s the solution?

Glad you asked.

We put together a white paper on strategically reducing call center attrition rates. It’s a little bit long, so to summarize there’s this: you need to get a series of ducks in a row. Those ducks include:

  • Understanding your call center staffing pipeline and methods
  • Knowing how you get data from there
  • Tying that to financials (correctly)
  • Figuring out why call center reps are leaving
  • Attacking that problem as opposed to some other problem, i.e. “Let’s do it cheaper”

Usually call center employees leave at a 3x rate of white-collar workers because of how they’re treated, the expectations heaped on them, and the lack of connection in their area. Employee motivation and recognition is typically a concern, and that is fixable — although most companies go for some “carrot and stick” or “colorful gamification board” approach that doesn’t quite solve the problem. If you want to truly “optimize your workforce,” you need different, socially-driven approaches.

But it starts with one “A-Ha!” moment: realize that high call center attrition rates aren’t inevitable and that it’s costing you more than you think. Upon those two realizations, you should be more willing to spring into action here.

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