Employee turnover is inevitable, no matter what business you’re in.
While some industries are inherently more susceptible to high turnover, attrition among contact centre customer service agents has reached an all-time high.
According to the Quality Assurance & Training Connection (QATC), the average annual turnover rate for agents in US contact centres ranges from 30-45%—more than double the national average for all occupations.
High employee attrition is never good for business, particularly because on-boarding new employees involves a considerable investment of time and resources. According to Gartner, agent attrition is highest during the first 90 days on the job, when new hires are most likely to be overwhelmed by their responsibilities. And the cost of losing an agent can range anywhere from $1,500 to a whopping $20,000, depending on their experience and responsibilities.
So why are customer service agents hitting the proverbial road?
The list of reasons that may contribute to rising agent turnover is long and varied, which has led many contact centre operators to believe attrition is a necessary industry evil.
Why are agents leaving?
- Non-challenging/repetitive work
- Lack of recognition for a job well done
- No career growth or development opportunities
- Inflexible working environment
- Disengagement from the job/customers
- Excessive pressure or stress
- Dealing with negative calls
- Low job satisfaction
Why agent attrition is bad for business
The cost of hiring new customer service agents is not the only way attrition impacts your bottom line.
As the front line of your company’s customer service and engagement strategy, agents are crucial for creating positive customer experiences and increasing satisfaction. With so much choice available to today’s consumers, one bad experience can cost you a customer for good. According to PwC, unfriendly service from live support is one of the biggest reasons customers take their business elsewhere.
As Forrester puts it, “Happy customer service agents mean happy customers — and happy shareholders. Engaged agents also have better job performance, are more productive, and stay in their jobs longer — which is one of the costlier factors in managing customer service operations.” In other words, keeping your agents happy and productive is key to your overall success.
Steps to success
As agent attrition rates rise alongside customer expectations, it’s critical for businesses to redefine the role of the agent. We’ve provided four ways to keep your agents engaged to help reduce turnover and increase satisfaction for both your employees and your customers.
1. Make the work more interesting
Many contact centre agents spend the majority of their time performing the same mundane, repetitive tasks day after day.
This kind of work quickly becomes tedious, unsatisfying, and can be disheartening—which leads to bad customer service.
Luckily, companies can free agents from mundane work by automating the repetitive inquiries and simple tasks that don’t require too much thought or effort. The right customer service chatbot can even automate actions as well as answers, freeing up agents to focus on the more complex customer issues that call for a human touch.
2. Give your agents better tools
In addition to taking over the mundane tasks, customer service chatbots can also be used to prepare agents for conversations with customers.
For example, if a customer has received an overage charge on their recent mobile phone bill, the right customer service chatbot can capture this information, plus any other relevant context, and pass it along to the agent so they’re one step ahead when the conversation begins. This saves the customer having to explain themselves (again) and helps speed up resolution, making for a less frustrating and more satisfying experience.
According to PwC, “unknowledgeable agents” are another reason customers may take their business elsewhere—so investing in a solution that arms agents information is smart for both the short-term and the long-term.
3. Let agents schedule their time
Allowing employees to manage their own schedules gives them a sense of ownership and empowerment, and this is true for agents, too.
A customer service chatbot allows customers to schedule appointments or book meetings with an agent in advance. On the customer side, this saves time and frustration. And on the agent side, the chatbot puts them in control of the interaction, and of their time.
By capturing context and automatically booking time in the agent’s calendar consistent with their availability, agents are able to support customers on their own time and terms.
4. Let agents contribute to the broader strategy
Customer service agents are the people who know your customers, and your business, best.
But they are often overlooked or under-utilized. Leveraging your agents’ experience and expertise, especially if you are evolving your support model to keep up with changing customer demands and expectations, can not only make your agents feel more valued, it’s a wise business move.
We’ve helped many of our clients create some of the world’s first automated customer experience (ACX) teams, and we always recommend they enlist their support agents when building automated content for their customer service chatbot.
Agents are on the front line of customer support and are better positioned than anyone to identify top inquiries as well as best practices, answers, and content for responding to those needs.
In the same vein, experienced agents can be instrumental in building automated experiences, from writing the content to managing the chatbot.
One of Ada’s financial services customers, for instance, has agents balance managing the customer service chatbot and providing live support. Taking advantage of this incredible untapped resource that’s right under your nose will also elevate the experience for your agents, which can help reduce attrition.
Show agents you value them and reap the rewards
As the customer service market shifts from a human-first to an automation-first model, the agent experience must not be forgotten.
Keeping agents happy and engaged is beneficial to your customers and your long-term success. And improving the agent experience reduces attrition and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty—all of which is good for your bottom line. To find out how Ada can help you keep your agents happy and engaged, contact us today to schedule a demo.