What you need to know about the sky-high contact center turnover rate

How to Become the Boss of Your Contact Center Turnover Rate

The contact center turnover rate is a KPI killer. It’s one of the top staffing problems contact centers face today. Not only can it sink morale – but it can also cost your company a fortune. 

High turnover rates in contact centers have long been an issue. But that doesn’t mean you should give up and assume things will never change. Some contact centers have worked hard to tackle this problem and succeeded

In an effort to boost employee engagement, many contact centers plan office activities like dress-up days and potlucks. Staff activities can help with company culture, an important part of a healthy company. But they don’t reach the root of your turnover problem or interoffice issues. (I’m all for a chance to dress up and eat good food, but if I’m dissatisfied with my day-to-day job, a potluck isn’t going to fix it.) 

To conquer your turnover rate, you first have to understand it. The only way to tackle that pesky problem of attrition is by hearing your agents’ concerns and finding weak spots in your company. 

Here are four steps you should take to understand and eliminate your high contact center turnover rate.

1. Calculate your contact center turnover rate

The average contact center has a turnover rate between 30-45%. Yikes. How do you match up? 

The first step to understanding your turnover rate is measuring it. Typically, contact centers review their numbers from year-to-year. To figure out your average turnover rate, apply the following formula:

How to calculate average agent turnover rate

So, if you had 1,000 active employees at the beginning of 2020 and by December 400 of your agents left, your annual turnover rate would be 40%.

Pretty simple, right?

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But you can’t stop there. Forty percent tells you that you’re in the hole with high turnover. But it doesn’t tell you what changes you need to make to fix that–let’s be honest–terrible figure.

Once you figure out how many of your agents leave each year, look into the reasons why. Every agent’s story is different, so you need context to understand why your agents leave. This plays a big part in pinpointing your company’s weaknesses.

2. Find out why each employee left

Asking the “why” questions when your agents leave will give you lots of clues about your company. If you follow up on each “why” question to address potential weaknesses in your company, you uncover gaps. 

Try some of the following questions to start: 

Did your employee leave voluntarily? If so, was it because he moved across the country, or because he found a job at another contact center? Did he leave to pursue a different career? Asking questions like these will clue you in on if your agent left because of dissatisfaction in your contact center.

Was your employee fired? If so, what triggered it? Was he acting out against management? Questions like these could signal a lack of empowerment in his work–which might point out a weak spot in management.

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Was he missing his KPIs? Regularly missing metrics could stem from poor training–another weak area to address.

But how do you figure out the answers to all these questions? One of the simplest ways is to conduct exit interviews with both the agent who leaves and his supervisor. This strategy requires time and intentional effort on your part. But, it’s a very helpful way to understand turnover.

Let’s say you found, through these exit interviews, that 20% of your departing agents felt a lack of empowerment. Many of them said they felt micromanaged, always having to go through their supervisor for approval before helping a customer. They felt powerless to make any decisions and didn’t feel trusted. With that data, you figure out you have clear weaknesses in employee management. But look for outside clues, too. This could also point to poor onboarding: maybe the supervisor micromanages because he fears his employees haven’t been trained well. So, if you search for signs of poor management but also bulk up your training, you can positively impact turnover. Put in the short-term time and effort and you’ll see long-term results.

3. Review your company’s trends and patterns

Track your turnover rate for several years so you can start to spot patterns. If you review your turnover rate against other metrics, you’ll uncover your company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Consider factors like employees’ service length, their team assignments, and calendar events to uncover any ebbs and flows in attrition. Find out how long the average agent lasts at your company. This will give you an idea of loyalty and engagement. 

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Look at each team and see if one team’s turnover numbers are higher than another’s team. If you find that one team’s numbers are high, you may need to look for poor management or personnel conflicts. Maybe your contact center turnover rate spikes during certain months of the year. For many contact centers, employee turnover is highest after the holidays. If this is an issue, search for ways to increase training and mentoring in the fall and winter months.

Once you begin to spot these patterns and trends, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll uncover the gaps in your hiring, training, and management processes.

4. Compare your contact center’s standing against industry stats

If you’re struggling with a high turnover rate, it can be easy to feel like you’re alone and failing. But it’s important to know where your company stands against other contact centers. Knowing industry stats helps you grasp your company’s strengths and weaknesses. And, it gives you reasonable expectations for yourself.

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Industry surveys say the average contact center turnover rate is between 30-45%. Employees ages 20-34 are likely to stay for just one year. Don’t let these bleak numbers make you give up, though. While some contact centers have turnover in the triple digits, others have almost no turnover. 

Review industry statistics often to keep track of trends. And, seek out companies that have kept their employees. Turn to them for inspiration. They hold the keys to unlock the secrets of low turnover.

Onboard your agents with strong training techniques and coach them often. Then, give your employees feedback and build trust between teams and leadership.

If you treat your agents like the professionals they are, you grow loyalty. Treat agents with dignity and listen to their concerns, and employees stick around. What’s more? Loyal and happy agents will bring more value to your customer experience.

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We originally wrote this post on June 18, 2018, and we updated it for new insight on October 8, 2020.