Off Center
For most contact center managers, the battle against agent attrition is a long-lasting and losing one. It seems that no matter how hard they try to keep agents in place, no matter how creative they get with their motivational tactics, their staff end up splitting for better, higher-paying jobs as a pamphleteer or migrant farm worker.

But the battle against agent turnover needn’t be such a bloody one. There are a number of highly innovative agent retention tactics that managers can implement but rarely do for fear of being too unconventional, or of being institutionalized or arrested.

But hey, if you want to truly tackle turnover, you need to not only think outside the box; you need to collapse the box and cut it up into cardboard confetti that you throw whenever celebrating agents’ fifth year with the contact center. 

Here are a few highly creative ideas that will almost definitely help you dramatically reduce turnover in your center and that will most definitely make you wonder why I am aloud to walk freely among society. 
Fake a contact center reality TV show.
Everybody these days wants to be a reality TV star, but only about 75% of the population will actually ever get a chance to be one. You can play off of the current reality TV craze to retain your agents and ensure that they perform at optimum levels. All you need to do is tell your frontline staff that one of the big networks is piloting a new show called  “So You Want to Be a Contact Center Agent?” and wants to feature your contact center in it. Explain to your staff that each week, any agent who doesn’t meet his or her quality and adherence to schedule objectives will be kicked off the show, and that the agent with the best stats at the end of the season will get to move their cubicle near a window. 

Naturally, you will have to invest in some fake TV cameras and cameramen, a fake producer and a fake director to trick agents into thinking the show is for real. And whenever agents ask you when the show is going to start airing, tell them not until 2016, but that it is guaranteed to be a huge hit, so they should really do their best to stick around until then.

Implement a true remote agent initiative. Study after study has shown that letting agents work from home can greatly increase retention and engagement. The trouble is, with the economy being in the state it’s in, many agents are homeless. But you can’t let things like employee home foreclosures and bankruptcy get in the way of your center’s retention efforts. Instead, you need to implement a truly remote agent model that allows staff to handle customer contacts from wherever they live – be it a cardboard box, a cave, or a van down by the river.

With today’s virtual technology, the walls have come down; anything is possible. Managers and supervisors in the contact center can view the real-time performance of an agent who is handling calls from an abandoned train boxcar just as if that agent were working onsite. Regardless of where they are working, you’ll be able to tell if the remote agent is logged in and handling contacts with quality. And, if they are not, you can send somebody out to make sure the agent hasn’t succumbed to hypothermia or a severe rat infestation. 

It’s a true win-win. The contact center wins because it is able to retain talented staff regardless of how destitute they have become, and the agent wins because they get to have a job without walls – or, in some cases, even a floor or a ceiling.

Make quitting grounds for termination. If all else fails, you can crack down on voluntary agent turnover by creating serious repercussions for such actions. Nobody wants to be fired and be forced to deal with the shame and loss of self-confidence that goes along with it. By making quitting grounds for employee termination, agents will seriously think twice before grasping for freedom. 

I know of one center that implemented a strict “quit and you’re fired” policy, and was able to reduce annual agent turnover by nearly 85%. The center did see a spike in anonymous graffiti and arson, but to this day still boasts one of the highest agent retention rates in the industry.

Xavier Derico
10/1/2010 04:35:23 am

Okay, this was hilarious, especially the remote-agent solution you suggested! Kudos! I may just try some of these. If I'm sued, oh, well.

10/1/2010 04:56:22 am

What do you mean "hilarious", Xavier? Those were all very serious tactics I wrote about. ; )

Give each of them a try in your center. I know a good lawyer if you ever need one.



9/1/2017 08:19:35 pm

If the company doesn't seem to take care of their agents, there is a higher possibility that they will find another job where they see themselves growing as a professional. Personally, I will leave a certain job if I feel that the company is not taking care of me. Of course as an employee, we need to feel that the company needs us and our service. That's why I have a high respect to the companies which have those practices!


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