Top 5 ways to improve attrition in your contact centre
Attrition is often seen as a health check for any business. If a high number of people are leaving then something is wrong. The question is what, and what can be done to improve it. Here Steve Woosey of the Professional Planning Forum shares his thoughts with us.
Contact centres are no different and with the negative images portrayed by the media, it is perhaps more important that any issues around attrition are dealt with.
At the Professional Planning Forum, we believe that a contact centre can be a great place to work and our research into attrition shows some of the key areas for improvement. Research conducted over a number of years, and illustrated in the chart below, demonstrates how successful organisations are reducing their attrition.
What are the top reasons for any improvement in attrition?
So research suggests that the top five ways to improve attrition are:
1. Skills Development
4. Management Style
5. Work-Life Balance
But what can you do differently?
When we look at attrition and how to improve it we are asking “how can I keep my staff motivated?” If you refer to any motivational theory, personal development is always a high motivator. So why would a contact centre be any different? Looking for ways to enhance the skills of your employees is good for the business, the customer and the employee.
Many centres use multi-skilling as a way to be more efficient; used correctly, this can also be seen as a development tool. Employees would be trained in new skills after certain periods of time and/or reaching a certain performance level. If communicated correctly, this gives employees a sense of achievement and creates variety in a job. This can be achieved without the need for financial reward, therefore providing motivated staff, who will stay with the business longer as they move along the skill path, whilst meeting the business need for efficiency.
Communication is key to any successful business! In contact centres there is a need for everyone to understand the goals of the business. It is important that employees feel part of the brand, and understand what the business is striving for and the part that they have to play in making it happen. Attrition rates are high in centres when employees feel disengaged, “nobody listens to me”. There have been a number of good communication examples where employee focus groups are used to make change happen, employee champions are used to drive change forward and give the employees a voice.
Targets need to be aligned and communicated effectively. Results need to be reported and discussed. Many centres now have web-based technology to display performance stats and working patterns. The use of intranet sites to display information can also be very effective. We must use all the communication media we have available, and remember that what may not seem important to a manager may be crucial to an agent.
Many now view contact centre work as a career, and with the varying roles available, from the traditional path of Agent, Coach, Team Leader or a support role in HR, Resource Planning, or Finance, there are many opportunities. It is important, therefore, that at least some of these vacancies are filled with internal candidates. This gives employees the knowledge that if they work hard and do well they have a chance to progress.
It can also be useful to give people opportunities to try out new roles; “try before you buy”, if you like. This can be done through secondments, day-in-the-life or development programmes. Many centres have development opportunities designed at finding the next team leader from the agent population; these schemes could be extended to include the many other support roles available in today’s contact centres.
This area is closely linked to communication. Does an employee feel valued? do they want to come to work? There is an old adage: “you don’t leave the business you leave your manager”. How many times have you heard someone say “the job’s ok but the people are great”? This shows how important management style is to employees. The contact centre should be a great place to work, with an element of fun and hard work. The management approach will go a long way to achieving these goals.
Work-life balance is not easy to achieve. Employees have to understand that the business must meet its customers’ demands, while the business must understand that employees have external pressures as well and do all it can to help them.
The introduction of family-friendly legislation has forced many contact centres to look at how they schedule staff. Contact centres have then taken this more flexible approach and developed it for all employees, creating a number of lifestyle schedule options that give employees more choice, whilst still meeting the business needs. These schedule choices are often created by the employees through focus groups, always bearing in mind that the business needs must be met. All employees are different and it would be wrong to assume we know what everyone wants or needs, so providing options is a great way of providing a suitable solution for all.
If you understand what motivates employees and what de-motivates them, you then know which areas to focus on to improve attrition. Many believe that pay and benefits have a significant impact on their attrition rate. However, providing these are at an acceptable level, increasing them will not have the desired effect. There is a disconnect between what we see on the exit questionnaires and the real reasons for employee turnover, so it is important that we dig down and find the real reasons for leaving. Only then can you tackle them.
Steve Woosey is Membership Director of The Professional Planning Forum. Steve.email@example.com.
The Professional Planning Forum (www.planningforum.co.uk) is the independent industry body for effective resourcing and planning in the contact centre industry, working across all industry sectors to provide specialist support for contact centre professionals. Championing the importance of these critical skills, the Planning Forum is widely recognised for its best practice research and case studies, as well as the results-focused nature of its professional development training and in-company workshops. The Planning Forum runs the Contact Centre Innovation of the Year Award and the Contact Centre Planning 2008 conference.Tweet
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