Disclaimer – the solution (solving contact centre employee retention) is not an easy fix and might even go against your instincts!
We see it time and time again, Contact Centre Managers are constantly fighting the battle between meeting their service level agreements by having the right number of staff at the right time with the right skills, whilst also striving to retain their staff.
Employee retention has been one of the biggest Contact Centre challenges for a long time, and yet, Contact Centre annual attrition rates rarely fall below 50%. And it can play havoc with workforce planning within the contact centre.
We know what you are thinking – 50% seems high!
What we’re referring to here is your ‘gross’ attrition at ‘skill’ level. Very often certain types of attrition are excluded for reporting purposes and some are in fact encouraged, but in resource planning, you need to include everyone who leaves an advisor position.
For example; An advisor leaves Banking to move to Loans? That’s a ‘leaver’ as you’ll need to replace a Banking advisor, even though at a department level that shows as 0% attrition.
Had to fire a Sales advisor? That’s also a ‘leaver’ as you’ll need to replace them too. An advisor gets promoted to team leader? Yep – they need to be backfilled – they’re a ‘leaver’ too.
The best way to calculate this is to add up the number of people at each skill level you had to replace last year and divide it by the total number of people with the skill. For example; I hired 30 new service and 20 new sales advisors last year (50). I have 50 service advisors and 40 sales advisors (90) = 50 / 90 = 56%. That’s your long-term resource planning figure.
However, for the purpose of this article it’s the ‘involuntary’ attrition rates and the voluntary out of department attrition we would ideally like to minimise.
A high attrition rate isn’t just bad for the employee, it’s also a huge problem for the business and for workforce planning:
- It’s expensive. You have to hire people and train them all the while absorbing those costs
- It leaves you understaffed when resource planning and often unable to meet your customer’s demands
- It reduces the overall experience level of your staff leading to reduced quality
- Hiring a lot of people effectively reduces the quality and quantity of talent available to you (you’ve probably already hired, trained and maybe lost all the good local employees!)
There are normally a number of factors closely related that can cause a Contact Centre to haemorrhage staff – corporate culture, often sitting at the centre of it all.
What can Contact Centres do in order to improve employee retention?
Pay your staff a decent wage:
This might seem like an obvious one and yet no one wants to hear it as it increases your costs. However, in the long term it may save money if you offset it with the cost of hiring new staff; the cost of training them and the cost of having to employ a larger offline training team; the lost staff hours required for ‘buddying’, the cost of customers having to call back and the cost of ‘brand damage’ etc.
And for your employees it’s not just about the money, a decent salary will make employees feel valued.
Make your employees feel valued:
Making sure employees feel valued can be tough. Start by regularly communicating and investing in your people. Do it well, genuinely and honestly. It is here that good contact centre managers shine over bad ones – good managers can communicate their message sincerely and are heard and believed.
Employee loyalty is often commensurate with how valued they feel. Ask yourself – How are you investing in your people? New technology? Office environment? Training? Rewards?
Using tools like Gamification within WFM can help promote cohesion and a fun work environment that stimulates and motivates employees. Gamification plays into our innate desire for reward, feedback, status, competition, altruism, and achievement. Gartner recently called it “a powerful tool to engage employees, customers, and the public to change behaviours, develop skills, and drive innovation”.
You can find more information on how to implement Gamification in the contact centre here.
Meet your contact centre service levels:
Nothing makes a Contact Centre tougher to work in than consistently failing your service levels and picking up call after call of angry customers. It’s normal for agents to burn out under these conditions.
Workforce management (WFM) solutions can help you schedule and forecast the right number of staff, with the right skill sets to meet your service level agreements and create a more pleasant and positive work environment for your employees. Most contact centres today will already have a workforce management solution implemented. It’s a case of better understanding your solutions and learning how to optimise it in order to achieve the results you are aiming for through better workforce planning.
WFM consultants can not only help you implement better planning and scheduling, they can also support you by coming up with a clear strategy and learn new ways workforce management technology can be utilised in your contact centre.
Some of the above will cost money. Some of it requires skill. None of it is easy. But, if successful, it builds a wholesome centre that delivers quality – which ultimately is more enjoyable and better for the customer as well as your agents!