How to Stop Phone Agent Attrition Rate From Shrinking Your Margins

The phone agent attrition rate for call centers can be staggering. According to statistics cited by Chron.com, across the entire industry, call centers replace 26 percent of their front-line agents annually. Others place industry average turnover rates closer to 33% a year but two or three times that rate is fairly common.

This means that, on average, a call center will have completely changed its entire staff every year.

While some turnover is inevitable as phone agents move on to new careers, the massive phone agent attrition rate in the call center industry is shrinking your margins in the following ways:

1: Recruitment Costs

Whenever you lose a phone agent, that agent needs to be replaced. This process of recruitment can incur heavy costs, including, but not limited to:

  • Advertising for an open position.
  • Management time used on hiring processes (phone calls, interviews, etc.).
  • New hire orientation and training.

The Chron article on call center industry turnover states that the typical call center spends $4,000 hiring a new worker and another $4,800 training him. Thats almost $9,000 down the drain every time you have to replace a worker, all without seeing any immediate ROI.

2: Overtime Pay to Remaining Workers

Depending on how much time the outgoing phone agent worked per week, and the size of your remaining team, you may end up having to pay overtime to other workers to meet the shortfall created by an agents absence.

The impact of overtime can vary based on employee hourly pay and how long it takes to find and field a replacement phone agent. The longer it takes to select a suitable replacement, the bigger this cost will be.

3: Reduced Productivity as New Hires Acclimate

It can be rare to find a new phone agent who is as effective in the role as the person who just left. While new agents are learning the ropes and getting used to the call centers messaging and customer interactions, theyre not going to be performing at their best.

This leads to lost customers and sales opportunities that otherwise could have been secured. Calculating the cost of reduced productivity/skills among new hires versus keeping talented phone agents on staff is very difficult to calculate for several reasons:

  1. Identifying the interactions that may have had a positive result from the ones that would have been a negative result either way is nearly impossible.
  2. The value of individual customer interactions can change based on your call centers industry.
  3. Individual customers will vary in value to your call center.

However, one way to look at it is to compare the positive call outcome rate and calls handled per hour for both phone agents. This can give you a rough idea of how well the new agent is performing relative to the one who left.

Reducing the Impact of Call Center Phone Agent Turnover

Between the cost of hiring and training new phone agents, incidental overtime, and lost productivity, it is no surprise that phone agent turnover is costing your call center tens of thousands of dollars per incident.

Say that each time a phone agent left your call center, the total costs came to $12,000. If you have an average call center attrition rate of 33% per year, and just 20 phone agents, that would be 6-7 phone agents lost per year, or $72,000-84,000.

This is a lot of lost capital for a call centers budget to absorb year after year.

So, how can you reduce the impact of call center attrition? Basic ideas include:

  • Improve training programs to better support agents who struggle
  • Add technology & tools to increase agent success & satisfaction
  • Monitor emotional states of agents to identify those who show early indicators of dissatisfaction

Each of these solutions offer unique challenges:

Monitoring Agent Emotions

Reducing turnover can be hard, as the call center industry can be highly stressful, leading even great phone agents to quit in frustration. The decision to quit is often an emotional one, so monitoring agent emotions is key to identifying when a top agent is close to the breaking point.

To accurately identify each phone agents needs, you have to be able to closely monitor each agents behavior and tone across all of their calls. Since your QA/management team can probably only review about 1 or 2% of your total call volume, manual assessments arent the best option.

Here, an automated assessment system, such as predictive voice analytics, can be immensely useful. By breaking down phone agent speech into a series of machine-interpretable feature vectors and running these feature vectors through a series of machine learning algorithms, predictive voice analytics can perform fully automated assessments of all your call center interactions.

Such automated analysis allows you to track the emotional states of all your phone agents at all times, giving you a powerful tool for improving conditions for your call center agents.

Predictive voice analytics can also help in reducing turnover by identifying bad seeds in an organization so that you can intervene and resolve the issue before they make good agents quit. Removing the bad seeds can improve overall morale, creating a more effective and efficient team.

Adding Technology and Tools to Increase Agent Success and Satisfaction

Few people enjoy failure. Constant failure to produce results can create feelings of futility, preventing phone agents from engaging with their work. Eventually, this leads to reduced performance and eventually, the agent leaving the workforce. Providing support tools to make it easier to succeed can reduce turnover by improving phone agent morale.

For example, predictive voice analytics can be used to analyze customer behavior and tone on a call to predict future actions. This is highly valuable for call centers in the sales and collections industries. By predicting likely future reactions, predictive voice analytics allows call centers to target the customers most likely to say yes to paying for products and services in the future.

This makes getting positive results easier for phone agents, helping to build confidence and job satisfaction so that agents become more effective and likely to stay.

Improving Training Programs

Phone agent training should be more than just heres your script, memorize it. Different phone agents have different needs. Identifying these needs is paramount to creating effective training programs that will actually improve phone agent results and build confidence/motivation.

Using predictive voice analytics, you can assess agent performance on every call, gathering information on their use of soft skills to guide customer interactions.

To accurately identify each phone agents needs, you have to be able to closely monitor each agents performance across all of their calls. Since your QA/management team can probably only review about 1 or 2% of your total call volume, manual assessments arent the best option.

Here, an automated assessment system, such as predictive voice analytics, can be immensely useful. By breaking down phone agent speech into a series of machine-interpretable feature vectors and running these feature vectors through a series of machine learning algorithms, predictive voice analytics can perform fully automated assessments of all your call center interactions.

This gives your call center a complete set of data to assess the performance and training needs of your phone agents, allowing for better training that increases agent skills faster.

For example, if the analysis data shows that an agent frequently struggles with establishing empathy with a customer, training can be focused on improving their tone. If data shows that agents are speaking in an angry or irritated tone, then you can focus training sessions on managing frustration to improve agent behavior.

Supporting phone agents through training is a critical part of keeping call center employees engaged with their work.

Predictive voice analytics can also help in reducing turnover by identifying bad seeds in an organization so that you can resolve the issue before they make good agents quit.

High turnover can strangle your call centers profit margins. Any tools that can make an impact on your agent attrition rate can be a worthwhile investment for almost any call center, regardless of size or industry.

Learn more about how you can improve agent skills, results, and motivation using predictive voice analytics today!


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