The 3 myths of contact centre employee attrition

3 common myths used to justify contact centre employee attrition

Contact centre employee attrition myths

Contact Centre employee attrition is the greatest challenge facing most call centres. With Australian contact centres continuing to experience employee attrition of 40% to 50% per year the cost to customers and the bottom line is undeniable.

I meet with CEO’s on a regular basis and this topic routinely forms part of our discussion.

Their frustration with the organisation’s failure to engage employees and reduce turnover in the contact centre (and customer service roles generally) is palpable in these conversations.

I can’t recall a CEO that believes this level of turnover is acceptable.

Yet, it continues to be a significant problem without any demonstrable change in most organisations.

Here are the top 3 myths used to justify high employee attrition in contact centres thanks to John Rives

Myth 1 – Customer service employees are disengaged and stressed due to the amount of knowledge they require to perform their roles.

My experience is that employees become disengaged due to the lack of challenge and routine nature of the tasks they perform.

This is compounded by a Service Ecosystem that prevents them from solving customer problems contributing to their negative state.

Ultimately, it is the lack of challenge and a sense of helplessness that leads to disengagement.

How many employees in your organisation left because they were too challenged as opposed to being emotionally fatigued?

Myth 2 – There is a lack of promotional opportunities within the contact centre.

Ask yourself this simple question: “How many employees left my business to take on a more senior role?”

My experience is that people don’t leave because someone else offered them a management role.

They leave for largely the same type of role in a similar business.

What they do believe, is that by leaving they will gain new skills and that this will give them a new challenge and better prepare them for a management role in the future.

Creating cross-training and lateral job moves achieves the same outcome within the organisation.

How much more valuable is an employee who understands the broader context of your business?

Myth 3 – Uncompetitive remuneration

If we believe this myth then one employer would conquer all.

The one that pays the most would be sought after and the employee attrition in this business would be minimal.

I know organisations that pay in the upper quartile. They have the same employee attrition (and sometimes worse) as those that pay in the lower quartile.

Yes. There are occasions when an employee gets offered a management role or leaves for a bigger pay cheque.

In my experience, these are the exceptions.

By definition, these people were looking to leave anyway and happened to find a better offer as a result of deciding to leave for other reasons.

So, why is employee attrition so high in contact centres?

The answer often lies in the design of the Service Ecosystem.

Organisations underestimate the capacity of people to take on challenges, to do the “right thing”, and have a willingness to create a positive customer experience.

As a result, organisations create complex rules and policies that prevent the employee from achieving a positive customer experience.

Organisations dumb down work in a belief that this will create efficiencies through repetition.

This is then compounded by performance measurement and reward systems that perpetuate a task orientation over a goal orientation.

This approach to the Ecosystem design is deeply flawed and will increasingly lead to poor performance.

The reality is that transactions and task-based interactions are increasingly being completed by customers online and on mobile devices.

This trend will only accelerate over the coming decade.

Customers increasingly call an organisation when they have a complex problem that can’t be solved online.

What use are task-based workers in this new world of complex problem-solving?

What will happen when all the simple transactions migrate to the web and the people in contact centres and retail branches are still task-directed?

The questions must be asked: “Why are we are teaching people to close accounts faster (task-directed) and forgetting that saving the account (goal-directed) is the true benchmark of success?”

In order to unlock the potential of each customer interaction (Interaction Optimisation), organisations must transform workers from being task-directed to being goal-directed and orientated.

By creating meaningful, complex and rewarding roles the employees and the customers win.

However, this requires investment in human capacity to create adaptive and resilient employees capable of taking on challenges and seeking out different strategies to achieve goals.

We must build a workforce that is change-ready and a culture where learning is valued and setbacks are viewed as opportunities to grow.

Rather than rely on the three myths to justify the employee attrition rate in your contact centre, take action and build meaningful roles that focus on solving customer problems.

Invest in people’s capacity and reap the rewards.

Recommended reading: 18 ways to reward and engage staff that won’t blow the budget

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