The Importance of Employee Retention in Customer Care Centers

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You don't want an empty call center. Preventing employee attrition will save you time, money, and show your customers you value them. 

Everyone has had a first day on the job. You go in, not totally sure where you’ll be sitting, or what the protocol is for lunch. Can you just put something in the fridge, or is that presumptuous? You don’t know if you should go to that 9:30 meeting or if you should be doing something else. You aren’t totally sure where to get pens. And is there a bathroom key? Who do I ask?

But the worst part is not being sure of what to do. Sure, you’re good at your job, but there are always quirks and tricks about your new gig that force you to ask questions. There’s a learning curve. And that’s fine. What makes it difficult is when you’re the one who is being asked questions. That’s where inexperience really shows.

That’s the problem with customer care. It is a job where the representative is being asked questions at all times, and is tasked with solving problems. And no matter how much they are trained, there is always a first real day, a first sink or swim moment. That’s why the most crucial part of any customer care team is agent retention. You want to minimize those first real days.

Customer care agent retention is the difference between successful customer service and PR disasters. It’s the difference between good buzz and going viral for all the wrong reasons. So when contracting with a third-party customer care partner, make sure you look for someone who combines technology, training, and retention. Otherwise, you’ll have people constantly looking for the fridge instead of helping customers.

The Cost of Call Center Turnover

Quality Assurance and Training Connection recently went over some of the numbers when it came to call center turnover. They are pretty shocking.

  • It costs $10-15000 to replace a frontline employee.
  • It costs $6000 to replace an employee making $12 an hour
  • It costs $36,000 to replace a management-level employee.

This comes from the costs of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training people. Every time you need a new person, you have to do background checks, which cost money. You have to spend time training them. You have to move resources that could be spent elsewhere.

That’s why hiring right matters, and part of that comes with age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a pretty clear breakdown when it comes to retention and average job duration.

  • Ages 20-24: 1.1 Years
  • Age 25-37: 2.7 Years

What this means, roughly, is that if your call center employees people mostly on the first job, young people under 24, you’ll be replacing the entire staff every year or so. And as we saw above, that adds up. A company could spend literally tens or hundreds of thousands of dollar a year hiring, training, and replacing.

But it isn’t just about the numbers. It is about continuity.

Planks on a Boat: The Importance of Continuity

There’s an old philosophical question--one of the earliest recorded, actually-- about replacing planks on a boat. If you replace half of them one year, and the other half the next, is it still the same boat? Or is it a completely different boat?

I don’t have a really good answer to that, but I do know that constant turnover and call center attrition means worse customer care, because it isn’t the same staff. You lose experience. You lose continuity. You lose the sort of institutional knowledge and break-room wisdom that comes from having longtime staff members.

That means worse service, by definition. It means more people having to say “I don’t know--let me check”, which drives customers crazy. Why? Because they think it means you don’t value them. 70% of customers say that customer service is the true test of whether or not a company values them. So despite your best intentions, you could be turning people away because a new employee doesn’t know how to handle a tricky question. 77% say the most important test of that is whether the company values their time. Endlessly being placed on hold is a great way of being told that your time doesn’t matter.

Poor customer service leads to $41 billion in losses per year. Think about that. Think about your share of that, combined with the costs spent training and hiring. How much money are you losing?

That’s why so many companies are turning to third-party customer care specialists. The right company has a track record of employee retention that combines with excellent training and cutting-edge technology. They create the right atmosphere for a difficult job, rewarding employees and promoting from within.

But most importantly, the right company gives them a chance to succeed. The biggest cause of attrition is demoralization. But by truly partnering with a company, and learning everything about them, and turning that into industry-leading training, they can avoid attrition. They can give them a chance to succeed, by making it more about getting it right than about avoiding mistakes.

Everyone has a first day. The trick is to never let the customer know it. The best call centers are where everyone can locate the frid


RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

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