5 Ways to Keep Your Call-Center Staff

Updated: April 30, 2009

Introduction

 

A major cost problem in call centers is the constant and seemingly unstoppable turnover of call agents. "It costs $10,000 to $15,000 in hard expenses to replace a single call-center worker ," said Matt Katz, vice president of business consulting at Merced Systems . By contrast, he noted a company saves from $2,000 to $3,000 for every month a single staffer is retained.

To prevent attrition, many companies are turning to innovative incentives to keep agents on the job.

 

Analysis

 

1. Skip the numbers and call the name. Call-center agents report they feel nameless, faceless and disposable. To curb the dissatisfaction that brews from anonymity, increase positive interaction between supervisors and call agents. An occasional pat on the back goes a long way. "We push for more contact with supervisors that are not punitive," said Katz. "It's important to listen and treat staffers as people."

2. Make training fun. Call agents based outside the U.S. are doubly valuable as it is often difficult to find bilingual replacements. To motivate this group, consider combining trips with training sessions. "Some of the most successful retention programs offer advanced training and certification programs, and in the case of multinationals, an opportunity to travel to the U.S. and other countries as part of training and team building," explained David Anderson, CEO of Utopia Group .

3. Offer family perks. Several companies report that showing appreciation for the call agent and his or her family is an assured win in the retention war. Everything from inviting families to company picnics to offering free movie passes when the call agent works late are very popular, according to Jack McElaney, vice president of sales and client services at E Communication Advantage .

4. Bend time. Burnout is a huge problem for underpaid and overworked call agents. To relieve the pressures that lead to burnout, consider being more lenient on time issues. Flexible schedules and added paid time off for excellent performance are great incentives for call agents to pull all those extra hours.

Conversely, little perks before the shift can help agents perform better on the job and curb punctuality problems."I recently saw one call center increase morale and productivity plus nearly eliminate tardiness by offering donuts for those coming to work 15 minutes early," said Anderson.

5. Get off the bucks and bank the savings. While universal pay raises are often too harsh a blow on company profits, reward programs are both affordable and effective retention measures. "I have seen call centers give away motorcycles, large cash bonuses and other types of big incentives," said Anderson. "Think outside the box and look for something that really appeals to your staff."

 

The Bottom Line

 

From dressing up work spaces to throwing pizza parties, the little things make the biggest difference. Be creative and allow your staff to have fun.

Featured Research
  • Contact Center Implementation Best Practices

    Are you looking to add a contact center for your business but not quite sure of how to go about implementing one? You aren't alone, in fact, getting a modern contact center up and running efficiently and effectively is much more difficult than it was even five to ten years ago. more

  • 15 Ways to Optimize Your Contact Center

    We live in a time where customer experience is seen as an important competitive differentiator. Given this, wouldn't you like to make sure that your contact center is fully optimized to meet your business needs? Deciding to upgrade and optimize your contact center is a big step, and one that shouldn't be done without due diligence and plenty of research. more

  • Benchmarking Your Contact Center

    Are you aware of how your contact center stacks up in comparison to your competitors? In an era where customer service is viewed as a key competitive differentiator, it is absolutely essential for you to utilize benchmarking in order to ensure that your contact center is helping and not hindering your bottom line. more

  • Contact Centers vs. Call Center

    Believe it or not, contact centers and call centers are not the same thing. Both of them serve the same purpose in ensuring that your business provides the best possible customer service, however, there are distinct differences between the two. more

  • The Social Side of Service

    Did you know that 83% of Twitter users who tweeted a complaint said they loved receiving a response from the brand? In order to provide the best possible service to your customers, you MUST provide service on the channels that they are utilizing. Social customer service might seem scary and undefined, but can be much more effective and less expensive than traditional channels. more