Attrition is a concern in any organization, but it is an especially big one in the call center industry, because of the high cost of training new hires for around three salaried months before that person ever becomes a productive employee of the company.
Therefore, it is important for us to know, what causes a call center agent to resign or go AWOL? We have interviewed a few call center agents, and here are the reasons they gave:
Better tools and facilities elsewhere. “In my old company, we had bunk beds to sleep in. In the new company, we only had a dark room and a carpeted floor. Sleep is so important to a call center agent. The least they could do was to give us a decent place to rest,” our first interviewee said.
He also cited the lack of productivity tools. “My old call center gave us flowcharts to guide us on what to do.” The new company provided only a database of issues to search through while the caller waited. The instructions were in paragraph form, which took more time to read than a flowchart.
This affected the agents’ average handling time, a major metric in the call center industry. This, in turn, affected their team standing. The hold time also increased the caller’s tendency to become irate.
Unreasonable rules. Another interviewee was annoyed at what he called “unreasonable rules” implemented at the call center company he had left.
“We were not allowed to call in sick. We had to present ourselves to the company nurse and get her certification. What if I got run over by a bus? Shall I tell them, ‘Don’t bring me to the hospital, bring me to our company nurse’?
“Also, they required us to speak in English even when we were not taking calls. What’s the point? If we didn’t already speak English well, they shouldn’t have hired us until we did. When I’m having a break with my friends, I want to relax and speak in Filipino without getting sanctioned for it.”
Skills mismatch. Our third interviewee resigned after her second day of taking calls. She said that even at the start, she was afraid she wasn’t a good match for the job.
“All my wave mates had engineering backgrounds or, at least, previous tech support experience. I had none of those.
“After three weeks of product training, I failed the phone test. But our trainer passed me anyway after making me promise to keep studying.
“Well, I did keep studying, but I guess my mind really wasn’t wired for Internet connections. Looking back, it would have been kinder if they had failed me and transferred me to a non-tech account instead.”
Upon analyzing these issues causing employee attrition, we see a pattern of bad leadership: Good leaders provide the right tools and facilities that employees need for physical health and workplace productivity. They do not sanction behavior that does not significantly affect the employees’ productivity. And they put their subordinates in a position to do the work they are good at; they do not force square pegs into round holes.
Like in most industries, bad leadership is a major reason why employees leave. Conversely, good leadership can be the key to reducing attrition.
In an industry where the cost of attrition is especially high, more focus should be given on leadership training and facilities improvement rather than excessively frequent “team-building” excursions and other optional frivolities.