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How to Reduce Agent Churn: A Complete Guide

Published On May 25, 2021 | Last Updated March 30, 2024


There are many ways to improve employee satisfaction and reduce churn in customer service.

It takes a certain kind of person to be able to thrive in a customer service position. Customer service agents need to have excellent communication skills, thick skin, a calm demeanor, and strong organizational skills to succeed.

Even though an agent may have the personality and all the right skills to succeed, they may still experience low morale or burnout for various reasons, leading to turnover. Unfortunately, there is a high cost associated with agent turnover or churn. Not to mention the negative effect on the customer experience due to inexperienced agents, which can add significant costs down the road.

In this guide, we’ll explain why agent churn happens and how to reduce it in your call center or contact center using different strategies. 

What is Agent Churn?

Agent churn refers to the rate at which employees, specifically customer service agents, leave their positions within a given period. It is a crucial metric used to measure the turnover or attrition rate within a contact center's workforce.

Agent churn can occur due to various factors, including dissatisfaction with working conditions, lack of career growth opportunities, inadequate training, or competitive job offers.

Studies show that contact centers have a turnover rate that is twice as high as the national average. And this comes at a high cost to businesses. According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs $10,000-$20,000 to replace a contact center agent each time one leaves.

Due to the high costs of agent churn, understanding and effectively managing agent turnover is essential for maintaining an efficient contact center and ensuring the consistent delivery of high-quality customer service.

Understanding the Causes of Agent Churn

There are many factors that can contribute to a high employee turnover rate. Reducing agent churn requires proactive measures from managers and business leaders to address the following things.   

  • Inadequate training: When training programs are lacking or ineffective, it can leave agents feeling ill-prepared to handle the demands of their job. Lack of proper training leads to frustration, decreased confidence, and ultimately, higher turnover rates.
  • High-stress work environment: Contact centers are often fast-paced and high-pressure environments, which can lead to burnout among agents. Constantly dealing with irate customers, meeting strict targets, and handling repetitive tasks contribute to stress and dissatisfaction.
  • Lack of opportunities: When agents perceive limited opportunities for career advancement within the contact center, they may feel stagnant in their roles. Without any clear pathways for progressing in their careers, agents can become disengaged and may seek opportunities elsewhere.
  • Poor job satisfaction: Job satisfaction plays a significant role in agent retention. Factors such as micromanagement, lack of recognition, inadequate resources, and inflexible scheduling can contribute to low morale among agents.
  • Bad management: Ineffective leadership, poor communication, and lack of support from management can cause disgruntlement among contact center agents. When agents feel undervalued or unsupported by their supervisors, they are more likely to consider leaving their positions.
  • Compensation and benefits: Competitive compensation and benefits packages are essential for attracting and retaining employees, especially top performers. Achieving a healthy work-life balance is also important for reducing agent churn in your contact center.
  • Lack of recognition: Recognizing and appreciating agents' contributions is crucial for fostering a positive work culture. When agents feel undervalued or unappreciated for their efforts, they are more likely to look for another job.

Best Practices for Reducing Agent Churn

Are you looking to lower your agent turnover rates but don't know where to start? Try implementing the following best practices in your contact center to improve agent satisfaction and ultimately retain your top talent. 

1. Perfect your hiring practices

The first step to reducing agent churn is to make sure you’re hiring the right agents. One easy way to do this is to implement a referral program that incentivizes existing agents to refer strong candidates.

Experienced agents know firsthand what the job entails, and therefore will be the best judge of whether or not someone is a good fit for the role. You should also create an ideal agent profile that includes personality traits, skills, cultural fit, and attitudes that reflect a successful agent.

Once you have mapped out the ideal candidate, you can set your hiring and interview strategy to find a good fit.

2. Build a strong company culture

A strong company culture is crucial for customer service agents. Well-defined company culture can help you attract the right talent and easily convey the goals and values of your organizations to agents. Building a strong company culture helps make your organization a place where agents want to work.

The company culture also dictates how employees communicate and collaborate within the organization. It’s crucial that agents are able to communicate and collaborate while working from home or the office to ensure a consistent experience for the customer.

3. Work with your agents to set attainable goals

Setting realistic and measurable goals with your agents is important to keep them motivated and feeling accomplished. Attainable targets for your agents can be set based on past KPIs, agent feedback, or your research. Hitting short-term goals helps your agents build confidence and encourages them to continue building their skills.

You can also set long-term goals with your agents in order to receive a raise or promotion. It’s important to provide consistent feedback on their progress towards their long-term goals and enable training opportunities for their weak areas.

Providing feedback to agents is particularly important to build trust and a strong relationship with your employees. This can be done by scheduling a bi-weekly or monthly meeting with your agents through video or voice call. A strong career development plan will ensure that agents see a career at your organization and continue to feel motivated by working on their skills and reaching their goals.

4. Evaluate agents on the right metrics

Although it’s important to set goals for your agents, it’s also important to weight the goals on multiple factors and not solely on efficiency or reducing costs. The overall success of an agent should be weighted on their ability to provide quality customer service in addition to their efficiency.

Some important metrics to evaluate agents on are first call resolution, customer satisfaction rates, and the amount of open/unresolved cases. Keeping track of these metrics for agents will give you a better understanding of each agent’s strengths and where they could improve.

Focusing on customer satisfaction over efficiency and cost reduction motivates agents to continually improve the customer experience.

5. Recognize agents for handling difficult customer situations

Recognizing your agents for handling difficult customer situations provides multiple benefits. The main benefit is increasing the morale and motivation for that agent.

Recognizing when an agent provides an exceptional customer experience sets an example for other agents. Not only does it demonstrate how to deal with a similar customer situation should it occur, it also motivates them to receive the same incentive by providing exceptional customer service. Providing incentives or bonuses based on specific goals also motivates agents and reduces stress.

One way to recognize agents is to have a “kudos” communication channel where managers and peers can recognize each other for exceptional customer service. Feeling recognized and accomplished improves agent confidence and improves the overall customer experience, resulting in happier agents and customers and reducing agent churn.

6. Provide agents with the proper tools and training

Without the proper tools and training, agents may feel lost and overwhelmed, causing the customer experience to suffer. When the customer experience suffers, agents have to deal with an increasing number of upset customers resulting in low agent morale.

The proper tools can help agents feel more competent and equipped to handle customer situations. They also spend less time dealing with inefficiencies and tedious tasks. Collaborative communication tools can provide a significant advantage to remote workers. Through collaborating with others, agents can access the resources and advice they need to address customer situations quickly and effectively. Software-specific training is valuable to ensure agents know how to use their contact center tools and where to access resources to resolve customer concerns.

Overall, the proper tools and training can increase agent morale, improve the customer experience, and make the workload more manageable.

The Bottom Line

Agent churn and high turnover rates are all too common in the customer service industry. Contact center leaders can help combat agent churn by providing the right training and feedback, recognizing agents for their achievements, and focusing on improving work-life balance.

At the end of the day, your customer service agents are on the frontlines of your business and focusing on their well-being is key to success. As the saying goes: Happy agents equal happy customers. 

If you’re interested in learning more on how to reduce agent churn through proper training, check out our blog post: Everything You Need to Know About Call Center Training

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