Effective Call Center Management: Agent Attrition

Agents are essentially the bread-and-butter of any contact center. These individuals are the forefront of the organization and represent the company as well as the client when communicating with consumers. Because they play such a vital role, it’s important to consider attrition when gauging the efficiency of a facility.

When it comes to agents, a high turn-over rate can be ultimately costly for a call center. It’s difficult to achieve certain goals or a high level of efficiency when agents need to be recruited and trained on a regular basis.

Call center performance is broken down into four primary components: Quality, Productivity, Responsiveness, and Cost. Each of these components directly affects the other and will contribute to the overall success of any organization. Agents will undoubtedly have their hands into all four of these elements.


Defining Agent Attrition

Agent attrition is a metric that compares the number of employees leaving a facility to those who remain on staff. According to statistics, this rate is 15 percent on a global average. However, this will vary depending on situations and industry.

Staff turnover is costly to any facility as it will accumulate a great deal of expense over the long term. Instead of having a stable base of productive employees, positions remain open while staff are in training.

These turnovers can happen in two ways: voluntary and involuntary. Agents can leave the job on their own accord or be asked to leave. In either case, the call center will suffer additional costs as a result.


Calculating the Attrition

An annual attrition rate is an average of agents who left the call center versus the number of agents remaining at the end of the year. This calculation is derived by taking the average number of agents at the end of the year and dividing it by the number who left.

Here’s an example.

Say that a small call center has 500 agents at the start of the year and 520 agents by the end. This would result in an annual average rate of 510 agents, which is 500 plus 520 divided by two. Now, what if the call center lost 60 agents over the course of the year for various reasons? Take the 60 employees divided by the 510 average for total agents at the end of the year.

This would result in an attrition rate of 11.8 percent,


Key Issues of Attrition

High levels of attrition are problematic for call centers. There is more at stake than simply not having an agent available to take incoming calls. In the end, they are quite costly and will influence the performance of the organization as a whole.

Having a high rate of staff turnover is expensive because of two important factors: a lack of experience to deal with caller issues and the underlying costs of training. These will leave the call center lacking in performance and reduce the capacity to remain efficient for clients.

Increased Recruitment and Training Costs

Recruitment and training is quite a hefty investment for any business. It takes time to find and interview prospective employees as well as time and effort to train candidates. Meanwhile, seats remain empty as callers overwhelm staff who are currently on-duty.

Poor Customer Experience

A poor customer experience is measurable in two distinctive ways: inexperience from the new hires and frustration from an overworked agent. Either of these instances can lead to problems dealing with customers especially in a situation where the caller is already unhappy.

Decreased Agent Morale

One of the most important elements for a successful business plan is the aspect of teamwork. When the team is constantly broken up, it can damage morale. This can also be an issue when the team is overworked because of a lack of supporting staff. When morale levels drop, so does productivity as well as dedication to the company.

When all of these issues are present, agents may refer to the call center as a “revolving door.” It essentially becomes a money pit that is not nearly as profitable as the call center should be. In other words, the business will be less attractive to clients as it will not be able to remain efficient.


Reducing Attrition Within the Call Center

Although some aspects of high attrition are unavoidable, others have potential for being eliminated. For instance, nothing is going to help the employee who has no intention on improving work ethics. However, general morale is something everyone else can benefit from.

Communication is Key

Open communication is important within any facility. This is a two-way street as managers need to clearly explain what is required while listening to concerns of subordinates. Direct communication reduces errors and mistakes whether it’s handling a call or agent-to-agent interaction.

Continuous Training and Education

In reality, there is no such thing as too much training and education. The more an agent understands about his or her position in the company, the more valuable the agent becomes. This will also play into improving the caller experience.

Offering Internal Advancement

Too many businesses hire for positions outside of the company. This heavily weighs on morale as agents see their jobs as “going nowhere.” When possible, it’s best to hire internally and give agents something to reach.

Improving Management Styles

Addressing the style of management can go a long way to improving morale. In fact, a lot of people will remain in a position simply because they love the interaction between staff and management. Effective call center management makes employees feel welcome and needed.

Assist in Maintaining Balance in Work and Life

One of the biggest ways to improve attrition rates is by offering flexibility. Not everyone can work the traditional nine-to-five shift. Helping agents figure out how to balance life and work gives them an additional reason to remain with the company.


Without quality agents, a call center is less successful – it’s that simple. Management doesn’t have to cater to all demands of employees, but taking concerns into account is ultimately important. Addressing what contributes to the attrition rate only works to improve the efficiency of the call center.


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