We talk a lot about balancing efficiency and effectiveness in our call center operations. Something we don’t talk as much about is balancing agent productivity and quality of life. Agent attrition is the bane of call centers, and its costs are huge. For every agent that leaves a new one must be recruited, screened and trained. Those are just the direct costs associated with agent turnover. Often overlooked are the indirect costs from turnover’s impact on productivity, service quality and employee morale.
I’ve seen wide-ranging numbers for turnover averages in the industry, from as little as 10% to as high as 75%. The rate for an individual center depends on a number of factors: call volumes, staffing levels, supervisory performance and the working environment are a few. Computing the direct costs of turnover is pretty straight forward. Let’s assume we run a 500 seat call center with a ‘good’ 20% attrition rate. Here are the numbers:
- 500 agents at 20% attrition means hiring 100 agents annually
- Assume per agent costs for recruiting, hiring and training are $5,000
- That comes to $500,000 a year in direct turnover costs
That $500,000 could be put to much better uses, but the challenge remains – “How do I reduce my agent attrition rates?”
A white paper I read recently explores some of the factors affecting turnover and how workforce management (WFM) solutions can be used to lower attrition. The paper even cites a 15% decrease in turnover when call centers deploy WFM in their operation. How is this reduction achieved? Basically, by improving the agents’ quality of life through scheduling flexibility, more consistent occupancy rates and improved planning and forecasting.