It’s no secret that call centers often suffer from high turnover. But, today we’re seeing tighter call center budgets and harder to find talent exacerbate this problem. Once you’ve made great hires, it’s imperative that you figure out how to keep them. The cost to replace a single employee can be up to 75% of their annual salary. However, focusing solely on the cost of replacement can also be somewhat shortsighted. In an interview, Wharton Marketing Professor Peter Fader, was asked about his take on the old adage that it cost 5x more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Although he’s speaking about customers vs employees, his response connects directly to employee retention. He said, “Here’s my take on that old belief: who cares? Decisions about customer acquisition, retention, and development shouldn’t be driven by cost considerations—they should be based on future value.”
While there is a direct cost for recruiting, onboarding and lost productivity, the long-term impact can be exponentially greater. When an employee leaves, they will take with them knowledge and relationships. They will leave behind a void that can impact your culture and the job satisfaction of your existing staff.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Josh Bersin wrote an excellent article on the importance of employee retention. In this piece, he makes a direct connection with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and keeping employees happy.
His version of Maslow’s hierarchy list employee needs in the following order of importance.
- Earn sufficient pay – If you’re not paying at or above the market rate, you will have challenges with attracting and keeping talent.
- Find meaningful work – Not all call center jobs are glamorous. However, there is always a bigger picture that employees may not be aware of. Make sure your team knows the impact their work has.
- Apply skills & interests – Provide opportunities for growth in which team members can use their skills and strengths to advance in the company.
- Feel appreciated – Celebrate the success of your team. Praise them often and publicly.
- Take pride in the company – Number one and two on this list can form the basis for becoming an employer of choice. A company that employees are proud to work at.
This list is a good starting point for any company looking to improve retention. However, when forming your own plan, make sure to think of how each layer applies in your operation. We’ve seen clients use some or all of the following practices with great success.
Back Your Employees
Your agents’ jobs are not easy. Daily, they face finding solutions for frustrated and angry customers on top of having to keep records and referencing prior conversations between an agent and a customer. It is a lot to juggle, and the more you do to show your employees that you have their back, the happier they will be and the more likely they are to stay. Here are a few suggestions to ease the workload:
- Always give your employees the benefit of the doubt when a dispute arises between a customer and agent.
- Invest in technology upgrades such as a CRM automation tools or virtual communication methods that makes your employees’ jobs more manageable.
- Ensure your agents have the best tools your budget will allow, including headsets, computers, comfortable chairs, etc.
Implement a Top Agent of the Month Program
A little friendly competition is not a bad thing. Hold a monthly reward program for the top agent of the month. Give a reward such as a gift card, paid time-off, or even a dinner. It could be based on the number of calls handled, the length of time on each call, or post-call customer satisfaction results. If your call center is big enough, you can implement all three programs to give more of your employees a chance to win a top agent reward.
Transparency is Crucial
Keeping the lines of communication open is essential. Be honest about what is going on within the call center. If you wait until the last minute, your employees will feel like nothing more than an afterthought. For example, if you plan on upgrading to a new software system, tell your agents as soon as you know. No matter what change is coming down the pipe, don’t waste time filling in your team.
Ask for Feedback
The best way to find out what is working and what isn’t is to ask your employees. You can hold regularly scheduled meetings, but sometimes agents are nervous to express concern for fear of retaliation if the supervisor doesn’t like what they have to say. A way to get around this is to take anonymous surveys. This increases the chances that the feedback you receive will be honest.
Find Out Why Agents Leave
Inevitably, you will have employees that leave for one reason or another. Conduct exit interviews to determine why the agent is leaving and what they would do to make the work environment better. Employees that are on their way out are apt to be completely honest about how they feel.
This is an excellent tactic for finding out what you can do to make your call center a better place for current and future employees.
Partner with a Specialized Staffing Agency
Finding the right candidate for your call center from the start is the most surefire way to make sure you retain the hires you make. The best weapon in your arsenal is utilizing a staffing agency specializing in call centers. Salem Solutions is the nation’s leading call center staffing firm. We understand the challenges call centers face and how to find candidates that will thrive in this unique environment. Request an employee today and leave the hiring up to us!