Why Do Call Centers Have High Turnover (and What Can We Do About It)

Why Do Call Centers Have High Turnover

It’s no secret that call centers have high turnover. In fact, research shows that the average annual attrition rate for contact center agents ranges between 30 to 45%—an astonishing 2X the average annual employee churn rate for all other types of jobs in the U.S. The real question is: Why do call centers have high turnover and what can leaders do about it?

First, an Answer About Why Call Centers Have High Turnover

One in three contact center leaders (33%) say high agent turnover is one of their biggest pain points, according to the November 2021 CCW Digital Market Study we at Medallia Agent Connect sponsored, “Future of the Contact Center: A Forecast,” an analysis of surveys of contact center, customer experience, operations, marketing, digital strategy, and IT leaders conducted in September and October 2021.

Some of the top reasons why call centers have high turnover are not necessarily tied to the function of working in customer service but instead can be tied to the culture of the contact center itself.

In fact, we’ve found that some of the root causes of call center attrition can be traced back to low morale within the call center, particularly with agents struggling with:

  • Feelings of emotional disconnection from the call center team and brand
  • Feelings of isolation
  • A lack of empowerment, autonomy, and engagement
  • Burnout from being overworked and undervalued
  • Not enough motivation, rewards, or positive reinforcement
  • Lack of transparency when it comes to performance reviews

What to Do About High Call Center Turnover: 5 Strategies That Work

Customer Contact Week (CCW) Digital asked contact center leaders what tactics they’re putting into place to address high call center turnover. Here are some of the top strategies they shared that they already are utilizing—or plan to use in the future to improve agent retention.High Call Center Turnover Strategies That WorkSource: CCW Digital, Market Study: Future of the Contact Center: a Forecast


#1: Address working preferences

Nearly 49% of the CCW Digital survey respondents say they will be considering offering remote customer service work options and greater flexibility with agents’ schedules to meet changing employee preferences. As you weigh the pros and cons of offering these options, check out our guides on how to successfully manage remote teams and ways to help remote customer service teams thrive.

#2: Offer better call center coaching, training, and performance reviews

“Improving training and coaching” and “improving metrics, scorecards, performance reviews” are two other top methods contact center leaders say they intend to use to address high employee turnover, with nearly 44% of respondents planning to implement the first approach and about 35% planning to implement the second approach, according to the CCW Digital Market Study.

#3: Improve call center tools and systems

Among the other top operational pain points impacting contact center performance CCW Digital Market Study uncovered when interviewing participants include a slew of issues related to contact center systems and tools:

  • Technology isn’t designed to support remote workers (31%)
  • Tools are too difficult to use (17%)
  • Not enough actionable customer data (27%)

It’s no wonder then that 41% of the CCW Digital Market Study survey takers say they plan to improve their contact center tools and systems.

A great place to start? Investing in technology that offers employees insights and ownership into their performance with real-time customer feedback dashboards designed to drive engagement.

#4: Reward and recognize call center agents

According to the “Future of the Contact Center: A Forecast” report, 38% of call center leaders say they have plans to increase team-building and social functions and 37% want to increase their agent perks, rewards, and incentives.

Creating an employee rewards and recognition program can help drive:

  • Customer and employee satisfaction
  • Employee engagement and productivity
  • Customer and employee retention

For inspiration, check out these great employee recognition ideas for CX agents.

#5: Provide a clear career path for call center agents

This is a tactic that more than one-third of contact center leaders plan to employ, according to the 2021 “Future of the Contact Center: A Forecast” findings.

If you’re tired of losing your best agents to churn, get our guide to creating career paths that align to your agents’ expectations.

How Swanson Health Products Reduced Agent Attrition by 25% (and You Can, Too)

The cost of hiring and onboarding new agents can add up quickly, especially when call centers have high turnover. In fact, bringing on just one new replacement and getting them up to speed could set your organization back by $15,000 on average. That’s why putting best practices in place to eliminate agent churn can help you not only drive employee satisfaction and retention but help safeguard your contact center budget.

As a technology partner to Swanson Health Products, we’ve helped this leading brand reduce call center attrition by an impressive 25% by empowering leaders to provide agents visibility to their performance in the moment and share real-time customer feedback to drive employee engagement, motivation, and performance.

Request your demo today to see how we can help your team do the same and boost agent retention within the call center.

Ready to ignite agent performance? Check out Medallia’s guide, 4 Steps to Supercharge Contact Center Agent Performance, to learn how leading contact centers are putting the right systems and processes in place to achieve success.