One of the biggest threats to call centers used to be artificial intelligence (AI). In 2022, the biggest threat is agent attrition.
Although customers can benefit from technological advances of AI, many customers still need to talk with humans to resolve their issues. This is becoming an increasing problem for call centers experiencing agent shortages.
The increasing levels of agent attrition are drastically disrupting customer experiences, agent morale, and contact center operations. Strategic action must be taken to address these issues.
Discover some current causes and effects of agent attrition and what can be done to reduce it.
Definition of Agent Attrition
Agent attrition is when an agent voluntarily or non-voluntarily leaves and the call center does not hire a replacement.
- The attrition rate describes the percentage of agents out of the total workforce that leaves the call center each year.
- Attrition differs from turnover, which is when an agent leaves and the call center hires a replacement.
- Reduction in the attrition rate can be challenging because there is no single cause.
Current Challenges Impacting Call Centers
Unpredictability is the main factor impacting call centers this year.
- How long the hiring challenges will continue is unknown.
- When the supply chain constraints will stop is undetermined.
- Pandemic-related work conditions might be here permanently.
- Call center customers increasingly are losing patience.
- Customers want more options and high-touch, personalized experiences.
- Brand loyalty is more at risk than ever.
Current Causes of Increasing Agent Attrition
Record-low unemployment in 2022 is the primary reason for the rise of agent attrition.
- The job seeker’s market is encouraging call center agents to job hop.
- The growing quit rate shows strong confidence among workers to find a better job with a new employer.
- Few millennials are willing to replace the Baby Boomers who are retiring.
- Call center agents are being directed to other industries that offer better compensation, benefits, and perks.
- The gig economy is attracting job seekers who want flexibility, autonomy, and advancement opportunities.
- High turnover rates in call centers are likely to continue.
Disparity of Turnover Rates Between Industries
Call centers currently are experiencing higher turnover rates than most other industries for the following reasons:
- Repetitive work
- Low pay
- Inflexible schedules
- Low engagement
- Lack of training
- Stressful environment
- High odds for burnout
- Uninspiring management
- Frustrated customers
Common Results of High Agent Attrition
Increasing amounts of turnover adversely impact a call center in the following ways:
- Higher recruitment and training costs
- Fewer qualified candidates
- More time needed to fill vacancies
- Unfilled training classes
- Reduced productivity
- Missed service levels
- Subpar customer experiences
- Decreased revenue
Costs Related to High Agent Attrition
The costs of losing an experienced call center agent are more than just salary.
- An increasing amount of time and money are needed to maintain customer satisfaction.
- Onboarding, training, and adapting to the job can take close to a year.
- Many agents find a new job within 6 months of starting.
- Lower key performance indicators (KPIs) lead to low quality of customer service.
Methods to Reduce Agent Attrition
There are steps you can take to reduce your call center’s level of agent attrition:
- Share creative recruiting campaigns on social media and in online forums to attract millennial candidates.
- Provide an attractive employer brand and company culture that connect with job seekers.
- Conduct personality and emotional intelligence tests to identify the best talent.
- Properly onboard and train your agents to increase motivation and improve the quality of service.
- Provide coaching on soft skills, including how to speak with customers and address their needs.
- Offer competitive pay rates, benefits, and perks.
- Provide a positive work environment.
- Engage your agents in volunteerism or other company activities that promote camaraderie.
- Clarify paths for advancement.
- Ensure supervisors and managers motivate agents to perform well and continuously improve performance.
- Provide technology to help agents deal with stress.
- Offer flexibility.
- Invest in employee development.
Optimization of Workforce Management
The following are higher-level methods to improve your call center agent retention:
- Implement customer self-service to offload repetitive work from the agents and reduce the need to continuously answer the same questions.
- Provide real-time decision-making support for agents to troubleshoot and resolve issues.
- Implement platforms that automatically authenticate customers and provide relevant data that the agents can easily access.
- Free up time for agents to focus on higher-level calls to improve employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
Strategic Implementation of Artificial Intelligence
Some customers like to talk with an AI agent to avoid long hold times for simple problems and would rather talk to agents for more complex issues.
- Many customers became used to digital interactions during the pandemic.
- Conversational AI helps customers resolve common issues with simple solutions.
- Natural language processing, speech recognition, machine learning, and big data can be used to respond to multiple customer intents and changing contexts.
- Agents have additional time to help customers resolve higher-level issues.
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