60% of Contact Center Agents Plan to Leave Their Jobs — Here’s Why

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60% of Contact Center Agents Plan to Leave Their Jobs — Here’s Why

It’s no secret that contact centers are stressful work environments. The phones never stop ringing as customers call in around the clock to voice their grievances. Callers often take their frustrations out on the agents, even when it isn’t their fault. Compounding the stress are the tight deadlines, strict targets, and constant pressure to upsell and cross-sell. Through it all, agents have to maintain a cheerful and empathetic demeanor, no matter how burned out they feel inside.

You probably guessed that, due to these challenges, many contact center agents have one foot out the door. But our recent report reveals just how staggeringly high the numbers are. For our State of the Contact Center Report, we surveyed 500 contact center agents and found that 60% said they’re “very likely” to leave their jobs in the next six months.

Our survey asked agents the tough questions and dug deep into why they’re dissatisfied at their jobs. Of course, many cited the reasons I listed above, but other factors are also causing them to quit in droves. In this post, I’ll break down our original research and recap why agents are planning to leave their jobs. I’ll also share some tips for how you can increase agent retention with a conversation intelligence solution.

Want to read all the findings from our survey? Download our State of the Contact Center Report.

5 Reasons Contact Center Agents Plan to Leave Their Jobs

Reason 1: Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities

When we surveyed 500 agents from the U.S. and the U.K., the top reason they cited for leaving their jobs wasn’t verbal abuse from callers, as you may have guessed. For 38% of respondents, it was that they found better job opportunities elsewhere. Another 35% cited similar reasoning, saying that they lacked career advancement opportunities. 

Lack of career growth is an all-too-common problem for contact center agents — many organizations neglect agent development, as it can be costly to implement. But what’s even more costly is having to constantly replace churning employees. If you’re a manager looking to reduce turnover in your contact center, one of the most effective things you can do is to create a career progression plan that outlines the specific steps agents need to complete to receive raises and promotions. 

Reason 2: Getting Forced Back into the Office Full-Time

The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to adopt remote work and embrace digital transformation. As a result, many contact center agents began to work remotely for the first time. The pandemic showed contact center agents that remote work is not only possible but can be more productive than on-site work. Many agents enjoyed higher job satisfaction, better work-life balance, and reduced commuting times while working from home.

However, now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, many organizations are trying to bring contact center agents back into the office full-time. This has caused friction with agents, as they don’t want to give up the flexibility of hybrid and remote work. According to our research, 68% of agents prefer a hybrid environment and 44% prefer working remotely full-time.

If you want to increase retention at your contact center, one of the easiest steps you can take is to give your agents flexible work arrangements, rather than forcing them back into the office.

Reason 3: Dealing with Rude and Angry Callers

As I mentioned earlier, rude and angry callers are an all-too-common issue for call center agents. People don’t usually call a contact center because they’re having a satisfactory experience — they call in because they have an urgent issue that needs attention. And waiting on hold doesn’t exactly help their temperament. Oftentimes, they’ll blame agents for issues that are out of their control, and they may even throw in a personal attack or two. 

The graphic below breaks down the different types of harassment contact center agents report experiencing: 

If you want to read first-person accounts of contact center agents dealing with rude callers, check out our blog post, The 10 Funniest, Weirdest Call Center Stories According to Reddit. I’m willing to bet a caller asking an agent to stay on the line with them during an active tornado wasn’t on your Bingo card!

Reason 4: Excessive Coaching and Micromanagement

Coaching is an essential part of career development for contact center agents, providing them with the tools they need to improve their skills and deliver top-tier customer service. Through coaching, managers can help agents reinforce their strengths and identify areas for improvement to work on. 

However, coaching can also become a form of micromanagement when managers don’t implement it correctly. If managers are constantly breathing down agents’ necks and aren’t giving them the autonomy to make their own decisions, it can lead to a lack of trust and feelings of resentment. 

So, how can you find a balance between constructive coaching and micromanagement? Our survey found that agents are 20% more likely to leave in the next six months when they’re coached more than once a week, versus weekly. When you limit training sessions to once a week, agents are far less likely to feel like they’re under a microscope.

Reason 5: Inaccurate and Biased Feedback on Performance

The traditional model of evaluating agent performance involves manually listening to a sample of your call recordings to identify each agent’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This approach can take a toll on managers, especially for contact centers with hundreds of agents. 

In our report, the vast majority of managers said that they aren’t able to score enough calls to accurately evaluate agent performance. As a result, agents may feel that they’re not being fairly judged, as managers are only reviewing a small percentage of their calls. What’s more, this scoring system is prone to human error, subjectivity, and bias. 

To solve this issue, you can use conversation intelligence to scale agent coaching. The solution automatically scores every call with an AI model trained to your business. Your agents can then rest assured knowing that they’re being fairly evaluated.  

Increase Agent Retention with Conversation Intelligence

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s the fix for these common contact center problems?” These problems are pervasive, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that will that magically correct them. But by tweaking your approach and making sure your team is enabled with the right tools, you can begin to make an impact on them.

To solve common contact center issues, leading organizations use are turning to conversation intelligence solutions. According to our research, 85% of call center managers say they’re likely to implement conversation intelligence in the next year. 

With a conversation intelligence tool like Invoca, you can use AI to automate call quality assurance to score 100% of calls, instead of just a small sample. The result is unbiased feedback, which is unaffected by sampling bias or human error. 

Invoca also offers coaching tools to help you support agents, whether they’re in the office with you or working remotely. For instance, you can comment directly on call recordings and transcripts, and @mention agents to give them real-time feedback.

View the Rest of Our Findings in Our State of the Contact Center Report

Want to check out more of the findings from our original research? Download our State of the Contact Center Report.

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