Agent Retention

How to Calculate (and Reduce) Call Center Turnover

You’ve dealt with it before and there’s no doubt you’ll face the same challenge again: call center turnover.

In customer service, the revolving door of agents joining your team and exiting in a few months or only a year seems to be normal. Quality Assurance & Training Connection completed a research study that found the industry’s average turnover rate is 30 to 45%. While it may not seem astounding, companies often struggle with call center turnover and see the figure reach as high as 90% (or greater).

But even though it’s notoriously more common in customer service than in most other industries, you still need to address what’s actually causing call center turnover and aim to reduce it.

Call center turnover occurs for several different reasons. In many organizations, call center turnover skyrockets due to dissatisfaction. Leadership might not provide appropriate training or support to the customer service team, agents could feel stressed with the workload, or the salary may not match what agents’ responsibilities really entail. Actually, it could be a mixture of all three reasons and a handful of less common ones. No matter the reason, this remains true: turnover doesn’t do a company any favors.

If it’s not identified and addressed quickly, call center turnover spirals into an issue that demands a near-endless amount of resources. You’ll find yourself constantly hiring agents who don’t last as long as you hoped for, putting you right back in the costly recruiting process all over again. Turnover also weakens team morale among the agents who’ve been able to stick around.

Here’s a deep dive into call center turnover — what it is, how to calculate it, and what you can do to reduce attrition and run a best-in-class customer service team.

What is Call Center Turnover, Anyway?

Before you can calculate call center turnover, understand what it is. Call center turnover is the percentage of agents who leave your call center within a given time period. Normally, the percentage is calculated on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. You can, however, also calculate call center turnover in another period of time chosen.

As agents leave your customer service team and lower its headcount, call center turnover increases. If you’re able to retain agents over the set period of time, you’ll see a decrease in turnover.

Another thing to keep in mind is that call center turnover can, if you wish, include both voluntary and involuntary exits. Voluntary exits are when an employee leaves a company to take another job elsewhere or retire, for example. Involuntary exits, meanwhile, are when layoffs take place to reduce staff or an employee is terminated due to poor performance. It’s up to you whether you focus on voluntary exits exclusively or bring in involuntary exits as well, and which specific reasons do and don’t qualify.

So it should be clear now that you’ll need to define some parameters first. From there, you’ll easily calculate call center turnover in just a few steps.

How to Calculate Call Center Turnover

formula to calculate call center turnover

To calculate call center turnover, take the total number of agents who left during the period of time and divide it by the average number of agents employed during the same period of time.

Let’s do some math together to calculate an example company’s call center turnover rate.

Company A decides to calculate its call center turnover. It first needs to determine the period of time to capture, so the customer service team’s manager decides to take a year-long view from January to December.

call center turnover rate calculation example

In the table above, Company A lays out the number of agents who left each month and the number of agents on the team at the end of each month. It then adds up the total number of agents who left the organization during the period and averages the number of agents employed at the end of each month.

Company A can now calculate its call center turnover rate by taking the total number of agents who left from January to December (45) and dividing it by the average number of agents employed at the end of the month (74.3).

As a result of this calculation, the call center turnover rate for Company A is 60.5% on an annual basis. It’s very high call center turnover, which indicates something causes agents to choose to leave this organization regularly.

How to Reduce Call Center Turnover & Retain Agents

Reducing turnover in your call center needs to be a priority, especially if you discover that turnover is in fact high.

Once you do so, you’ll spend less on recruiting and hiring cycles as employee retention increases. It’ll also allow for your customer service team to build a good rapport internally and with customers. Agents who feel motivated and engaged go the extra mile to ensure customers are happy with and trust your brand and its offerings.

As mentioned earlier, the reasons for turnover to be high vary. Yet there are very direct methods to address it once and for all to keep employees on your customer service team, which ultimately controls costs and enhances customer experience (CX) with knowledgeable, well-trained agents on the front lines.

Below are tips you can use to reduce call center turnover and retain agents on the customer service team.

Build a Culture of Collaboration

Collaboration brings your agents together — share real-time customer feedback with the entire customer service team and allow everyone to learn from the ratings and reviews received. It’s a level of transparency that optimizes agent performance first and foremost.

Share data-rich feedback to highlight ideal service interactions — whether via email, a Slack message, or during a team meeting. Less-than-stellar service interactions still hold plenty of value, though. You’ll want to use these service interactions to guide agents on what went wrong and how simple errors can be cleaned up for the future.

Agents who consistently deliver top-tier service to customers will be seen as leaders, and others will aim to earn similar outcomes during their service interactions. You could also establish a leaderboard to gamify their efforts. Done the right way, a leaderboard fosters friendly competition rather than a ferocious foray. Remember what matters most: agents enjoying what they do.

Keep in mind that all of this is only possible with customer feedback captured and analyzed in the moment. If you’re waiting a week or a month to share what customers say, it’s too late. Rally your agents when it counts in group meetings or 1:1s to make the greatest impact.

Take the Pressure Off Agents

Stress takes a toll on anyone, but agents who face ticket after ticket on a daily basis without the opportunity to breathe can’t be expected to stay on the customer service team for a long period of time.

Agents reach a breaking point and decide to leave, applying even more pressure to other agents still tasked with responding to inquiries. Now you’re stuck with unhappy employees who are about to become much more unhappy and likely to find the exit.

Lower the temperature for agents and take the pressure off them in any way you can.

In another blog post, find out how to support the mental health of your employees:

  • Create a Safe & Open Space
  • Encourage Breaks & Mental Health Days
  • Focus on Team Morale
  • Reward, Recognize, & Engage
  • Consider Personal External Factors
  • Wellness While Remote
  • Lead By Example

Metal health is critical today. Whereas managers and supervisors in the past ignored the telltale signs of burnout and pushed agents harder, the current generation of CX leaders understands their obligation to watch out for the well-being of their employees and offer full support.

Train & Coach Every Agent to Succeed

What do you do to prepare agents? Customer service training and coaching determine the course of action for agents during service reactions and the type of feedback received. So you’ll want to install a hands-on, active approach to set agents on a path to becoming all-stars.

Building a customer service training program doesn’t happen overnight, though. It’ll take some time to get up and running with fine-tuning along the way, but agents earn the perfect set of skills and confidence to succeed. And when your team succeeds, your business succeeds.

Recognize & Reward to Say ‘Thanks’

Put your money where your mouth is. Say ‘thanks’ with words, then show you acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of your agents with an employee recognition program.

Customer Service Appreciation Week Ideas for Every Budget

Organizations use gifts and even cash bonuses to recognize all that their employees accomplish. From a gift card to an agent’s favorite restaurant to a surprise direct deposit, agents take a deeper interest in their role as soon as they see what’s at stake. And you can bring your customers into it by translating feedback to rewards — customers leave their feedback and vote on the reward an agent deserves.

Running an employee recognition program that rewards agents with a gift or cash bonus is a lot cheaper than spending an estimated $15,000 on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding an agent every time you become short-staffed.

If you’re wondering the ideal number of agents to employ in a call center, there’s a calculation for that as well.

Get Ready to Control Attrition & Reduce Call Center Turnover

Call center turnover exists in all organizations, and it’s fair to say that you’ll never completely eliminate this challenge. No one does, frankly. But you can absolutely reduce call center turnover to a level that gets you off the hiring carousel and focused on training, coaching, and celebrating agents who achieve results.

Schedule a demo today to meet with a Stella Connect by Medallia expert and learn how our platform gets you in the driver’s seat to reduce call center turnover, monitor agent performance, and optimize CX.