What Is the Average Lifespan of a Call Centre Agent?

Eight wooden blocks with "LIFESPAN", a clock, and a sandglass.
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With increasing attrition, contact centres are facing new challenges with recruitment and retention, but how long do agents typically stay in their roles?

According to Katy Forsyth, average tenure of a contact centre agent has always been a key metric for the industry.

A headshot of Katy Forsyth
Katy Forsyth

Not only because of the significant cost implications of attrition (early attrition particularly) but because of the direct impact that attrition has on both customer experience and wider agent engagement.

The average lifespan of a contact centre agent in role has reduced substantially post-pandemic. In 2019 agents in the UK held post for an average of 14 months.

Today, the average for the industry is just 11 months. For the first time, the average is less than a year.

When we look closely at the data for why talent is exiting roles, or worse, the industry, there are many contributing factors.

The Key Pressures Include:

Economic

Economic factors such as job numbers far outweighing available worker numbers, causing unprecedented competition for talent. This combined with the cost-of-living crisis quickly drives workers to jobs paying higher salaries.

This is a particular stress for the industry when we consider that our key competing industries of retail and hospitality now pay more on average than contact centres.

Demographic

Demographic pressures of ‘Zilllennial’ workers demanding faster career paths prompting more regular moves.

Industry

Industry pressures of tougher jobs and customers leading to a general exit of talent.

There’s great work planned industry-wide for contact centre engagement in 2023. Investment in engagement and retention initiatives remains strong despite challenging times for business.

This evidences just how important retention is to customer success. Particular progress and success can be seen in new and effective agent progression paths within centres and greater career progression plans within brands.

I feel positive that as an industry we will successfully work together in 2023 to improve lengths of tenure and ultimately the industry’s continued success.

★★★★★

When Abhishikha asked our LinkedIn Community for their thoughts on this, they came back with everything from 6 months to 5+ years, proving it’s all to play for if you have the right culture in place.

Here’s a round-up of what they said and why…

6 Months

We’ve just had a roundtable with Deloitte where we were talking about this.

These days with remote work and quiet quitting, many contact centres constantly experience 6-monthly churns.

Thanks to Patrick

If you are looking for information on quiet quitting, read our article: How to Combat Quiet Quitting in the Call Centre

1 Year

In my personal experience, most agents that get to 6 months are going to carry on and get to 1 year.

Thanks to Paolo

12 Months

This varies a lot, but from what I’ve read, it’s about 12 months on average for an entry-level role – with no promotions or role changes.

Thanks to Marshall

6 Months to 18 Months

It can vary between companies. From experience, I would say 6 months to 18 months.

Long-term prospects within the company itself also play a big role in the centre’s short-term retention capabilities.

Thanks to Raïssa

18 Months to 2 Years

From my experience, I would think 18 months to 2 years on average.

Thanks to Luke

18 to 36 Months – Dependent on a Variety of Factors

A general lifespan is 18 to 36 months. However, it can be greater or smaller depending on the organization itself.

Factors that greatly impact call centre agent lifespans are as follows:

  1. Salary: Are you offering a competitive wage?
  2. Hiring Practices: Is job history and skill set thoroughly reviewed and taken into consideration before hiring a person?
  3. Training: Is the training environment effective? Does it prepare agents for success in the real-world environment?
  4. Employee Development: Does the organization invest in and practise an effective coaching and development process – that’s not just about corrective action, but true employee coaching and development? Do the frontline supervisors understand how to monitor performance and coach to behaviours as opposed to metrics? Do they know how to build morale and keep a high-energy environment within their teams?

Thanks to Dwayne

2 Years

2 years is the maximum.

Thanks to Imad

Some Manage 5+ Years

This varies hugely between businesses. I have worked at places where 6–8 months would be the average, but now I’ve been at the same place for 18 years. Not only that, but there is a large percentage of staff there who have been with the company for 5–10 years.

Thanks to Sam

It Depends on Various Factors

This really depends on the company, geographical limitations, and, very importantly, business models and expectations.

Thanks to Krishanu

For more great information on employees and attrition, read these articles next:

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 14th Apr 2023
Read more about - Call Centre Questions, ,

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