Nearshore Americas
increase retention

How to Increase Retention in a Contact Center

Attrition is the headache of almost all contact centers. It creates excessive recruiting and training costs, and prevents the operation from ever fully surpassing a learning curve to reach maturity and consistent results.
While the average annual attrition for a contact center in the United State is 30%, it is common for annual attrition to surpass the 100% in Latin American centers — a huge drain on revenue considering that the average cost to recruit a new rep is about $4,000 plus training.
But there are ways to increase retention and decrease those needless costs. The following six tips can help any company be more productive, retain institutional knowledge, and cultivate happy employees. Combined, these simple changes can enhance the customer experience and provide a bump in sales.
1. Overcome the Daily Routine
Fielding calls for eight hours everyday can burn out a rep in less than a year. Imagine sitting in a small cubicle, day after day, repeating the same script, call after call, while being unable to go get a coffee or engage in the chit chat with a coworker on occasion.
Instead, try to spice up the environment. Try simple things like ringing a bell every time a customer thanks a rep because for great service, placing a balloon in an agent’s workstation for every sale made, or having a theme day (superhero day and pajama day are always fun). Tiny displays of fun and variety impact the workplace in a very positive way, creating a healthy and fun ambiance for all.
In the last contact center I worked for, we also set up a lounge where the staff could play videogames, take a nap, watch movies, or play pool during their breaks. We even had movie days and contests during which the high-performers could take some time off to relax and have fun.
2. Let Employees Know How Important They Are
Reps are frequently under-appreciated even though they are the voice of the company as far as the customer is concerned. Make sure your team members understand how they drive the company’s reputation and how the brand will be perceived by the customers when they exceed customer expectations.
3. Competition and Teamwork
As humans we’re very competitive. It starts in our early years at school, through sports, and even at home with our families. Creating rankings and incentivizing competition between reps or teams can make all the difference when attempting to reach a goal.
It’s been proven that people who engage in activities with others as a team tend to have happier lives, feel more appreciated, and become more productive. By promoting teamwork and establishing an open-door policy with management, you will see a reduction in absenteeism and low performers.
4. Empower the Staff
Frustration is common when reps frequently handle calls that they have to escalate to a supervisor. This is because, if escalation is commonplace, the rep does not have the tools or empowerment to properly do the job they were hired for. Over and over, companies have learned that people lose interest and contemplate other job alternatives when they feel limited.
The success in Apple’s Customer Service Contact Center is due to the empowerment provided to the frontline, where nearly everything can be solved without the need of escalating or transferring to superiors or other departments. Recurrent training is a must, and reps can be certified in different skills or processes that can make them eligible for another position within the company when completing certain curricula.
Invest in your workforce and make sure that they are always updated with the most recent changes in processes or company policies. Only then will they demonstrate the type of confidence and knowledge with customers that you want from those representing your firm.
5. Tenure Benefits, Increase Retention
What are your current benefits for reps who have been a loyal employee for one year in the company? How about for two years?
If your answer is none then you most surely have a problem, and your average employee tenure is likely below a year. Offering an opportunity for a salary bump, or bonus, after a certain number of months will decrease attrition significantly. This information can be provided to the reps at the beginning of the hiring process, and you will see that money talks.
Below you can see an example:

Title Tenure Bonus
Customer Service Rep 0 – 6 months up to 200 USD
Sr. Customer Service Rep 7 – 12 months up to 275 USD
Customer Service Rep Expert 12 – 18 months up to 350 USD
Customer Service Rep Master +18 months up to 400 USD

6. Treat Staff the Way You Want You Customers To Be Treated
We all work for money but it’s not all there is to a job. The main cause for people leaving their job is because of a bad boss, so focus on having the right leadership team.
I’ve been a consultant for companies that focus on providing the best service to their customers, but employees complain because of poor management, issues with payroll, and even a boss that mobs them or belittles their job.
Using surveys or participating in rankings such as “Great Place to Work” can help identify the opportunities you have as a company. Then you can make the necessary changes to improve your employees’ happiness — and increase retention.

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Lutz Remmers

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