We talk often about the intersection point of call center attrition and improved customer experience, and rightfully so. Customer experience is a big deal for brands these days — supposedly 74% of executives make it a priority now — and while there are different ROI metrics tying customer experience to the bottom line, the overall idea is that it must eventually be tied to the bottom line. Otherwise, frankly, executives won’t care.
Call center turnover is somewhat the same story. A lot of executives view it as a cost function at best, meaning there needs to be some improvement in productivity tied to gained/less loss of revenue for them to think about it much more than in passing.
But at this intersection point, you can actually find a win-win. If you lower call center turnover rates, you improve customer experience. It actually happens in most contexts and either saves or makes a company money. Why? It’s somewhat logical:
- Lowering call center turnover rates means keeping knowledge and process in-house: Call centers with a lot of churn frequently have bad customer experience and relationships, because someone fielding a call might not be fully trained on what to do with a specific customer issue. “Switching costs” between industries or suppliers are much lower today thanks to digital technology. So one bad call center experience could lose you a customer.
- Customer acquisition costs…: … are much higher than customer retention costs. So each time you lose a customer, you’re scrambling somewhat. If you lose hundreds of customers, you’re scrambling a lot.
- Put two and two together here, and …: You can’t afford to lose a lot of customers — for any reason. Right now one of the more common reasons brands lose customers, aside from major PR hits (United), is that their experiences aren’t consistent across devices (website, in-store, etc.) But a major reason companies/brands lose customers is poor customer service, which often emanates from a call center.
- How do you improve customer experience, though?: There are dozens of strategies — many “thought leaders” in this space, of course — but the only really way to make a customer feel better about their experience with you is (a) lower the cost or (b) make sure the service is impeccable. Most people who run companies are averse to lowering the cost (less margin on their side), so your best option is the service being impeccable.
- How do you make the service impeccable?: Well, imagine a utopia where your call center workers aren’t stressed, burned out, etc, etc. Imagine a world where they’re communicating with each other, feel friendly, connect around best practices, coach each other through moments of stress. That’s a world reps/agents don’t want to leave. This creates lower call center turnover rates, which in turn creates more consistency and context for customers calling in with issues. Your reduction in call center turnover, then, drives your customer experience. In five relatively easy steps!
The final important rubric here is how you measure these terms. A reduction in call center turnover is relatively easy to measure — you can track by quarter or annually in terms of attrition within the call center.
Customer experience metrics are a bit harder. Most companies still rely on surveys or NPS (net promoter score) in this area, and while those can be effective, there are flaws in that system. (Moment-in-time bias, for example.) It’s better to look at customer retention statistics as a way to gauge customer experience. If your experience is bad and there are any contracts or renewals in place, customers won’t be retained — so that’s a more logical, revenue-tied way to see how you’re really doing with customer experience.
Tie the metrics together — if you can reduce call center turnover quarter-over-quarter, start seeing what’s happening with how you track customer experience. It won’t be a causal relationship necessarily, no — but there’s a good chance the numbers will track together as a correlation.