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Why Are Call Center Attrition Rates High, and How Do You Avoid Them?

Call Center Attrition Rate

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Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

In the mid-2000s, I was tasked with acquiring captive centers in India. According to most IT service providers, the captive center model was a failure, and they would be served better if acquired.

I ventured to understand why captive models were failing. What I understood was this:

  1. Often, captive centers don’t do any R&D work; instead, they are tasked with back-office and maintenance activities – not even professional services
  2. They have already earmarked someone as the country manager who handles the operations in India. That is the highest position you can reach, and the one heading it has at least six to ten years. So, the growth prospects are minimal.
  3. The maximum you can reach is the level of a program manager; if you are already there, then the growth prospects are minimal.

This meant there was a lot of attrition and minimal continuity in work done. I understood high-performance individuals were leaving as they didn’t see substantial career opportunities.

Irrespective of the nature or type of work, the biggest reason for any attrition is the lack of career opportunities.

High-achieving employees just want to advance in their careers, take on new challenges, and learn new skills. They want to master their skills and understand that they have a clear path to growth at your company.

Call center leaders face a massive problem with agent attrition. According to reports, the attrition rates can be over 30% in most call centers, which is not manageable.

Talent retention should be a top concern of any call center, especially considering how costly it is for a firm to replace employees with new ones and train them.

Every time you are forced to rehire and start from scratch is something you would not wish for any call center. However, understanding the reasons why people leave can help reduce agent turnover.

What Are the Other Reasons People Leave Your Call Centers Besides Career Opportunities?

1. Stress levels – working in a call center can be very stressful, especially when dealing with demanding customers or long working hours. This can lead to burnout, which can cause employees to quit.

When you hire new people, you tend to rush them through the training to get them to work immediately. You are literally throwing them to the wolves, which would make many of them quit.

Some reasons causing stress include out-of-date equipment, inefficient software, and multiple systems in silos that can frustrate the agents and the customers alike. These challenges lead to employees feeling inadequate about their ability to solve customer issues, increasing stress levels and leading to agent burnout.

2. Lack of job satisfaction – often, your call center jobs are repetitive and can be monotonous, leading to a lack of job satisfaction. Agents typically become disengaged and lose interest in their work, forcing them to leave the organization
Monotony is the biggest killer in any job environment, and call centers are no different.

3. Poor working conditions – call centers are often noisy and chaotic, with very little space per employee. This can make it difficult for employees to concentrate and do their best work – leading to low morale and frustration, forcing them to quit.

4. Micromanagement – agents are the most policed in any call center environment. They are set rigorous standards to follow, and they are supervised the most.

Customer dissatisfaction, increased AHT, poor morale, and a host of other issues put pressure on customer service representatives. The level of follow-through and micromanagement makes it difficult for agents to continue working.

How Do You Avoid Agent Attrition?

There is no silver bullet to avoiding agent attrition. However, you can reduce them to manageable levels by practicing the following:

1. Offering opportunities for career advancement – providing employees with opportunities for career advancement can help them see a future with the company and stay engaged in their work.

This can include offering training and development programs, professional development opportunities, and options for employees to take on new challenges and responsibilities.

Agents should be told in advance if there is no room for progression in their chosen position.

2. Provide training and support – call center agents must be adequately trained and supported to do their jobs effectively. Bringing your new employee into your company’s culture can’t happen without proper training.

You can develop a sense of team via training, which will help new employees settle into the team.

This can include providing training on customer service skills and offering ongoing support and guidance to help employees handle difficult situations.

3. Onboard the right talent – clearly communicate to prospective employees what is expected of them on the job. Determine if the prospective employee can handle your job needs by asking in-depth questions about their capabilities and past work experience.

Provide them with an opportunity to interact with coworkers to understand their job roles better.

4. Provide the right technology infrastructure – have a fully integrated omnichannel environment for your agents to have a single view of your customers. This would facilitate faster resolutions and make your customers happy and empower your agents to work well.

5. Gather regular feedback – your agents are the face of your organization, and they probably know more about customer issues than any other function.

Gathering feedback from them will make them feel a part of your organization. The fact that their voices matter will make them all the more likely to stay longer and perform better when they feel appreciated.

6. Prepare your leaders well – your leaders have a key role to play in the success of your call center. They should be able to provide constructive feedback to your employees and also take criticism in a balanced manner. They will have to be taught and empowered to keep the motivation and morale of your agents.

7. Create a positive work culture – a positive work culture can go a long way in keeping employees engaged and motivated. This can include promoting teamwork and collaboration, recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions, and fostering a sense of community within the call center.

8. Address working conditions – addressing issues with working conditions can help improve employee morale and reduce turnover. This can include providing a comfortable and quiet work environment and offering amenities such as break rooms and flexible work schedules.

Conclusion

High attrition rates in call centers are more often than not caused by high-stress levels, lack of job satisfaction, poor working conditions, inadequate technical infrastructure, inefficient hiring processes, and limited opportunities for career advancement.

To avoid these issues, it is important to focus on creating a positive work environment conducive to employees and providing training, support, opportunities for advancement, and a positive work culture.

Besides, empower your agents to do their jobs better by providing them with the right technology infrastructure and gathering feedback from them regularly – making them a vital part of the customer experience function.

About the Author: Uthaman Bakthikrishnan


Uthaman believes in the power of creation - it gives him a high to grow something from scratch and make it sustainable. Uthaman is the Executive Vice President and helps set the strategic direction and roadmap for ClearTouch, a pioneering provider of a cloud-based call center platform for enterprises, contact centers, BPOs, and financial services companies in India.