Poor pay blamed for high call centre agent turnover

When it comes to investing in call centres, staff benefits haven't always been a priority which is one reason why agent turnover has been so high.

In the past, blame for the high attrition rate has been directed at lack of training, technology, everything but pay rates. Finally, one contact centre provider, Genesys, has come out with a call for increased pay for agents.

Speaking at the Genesys user conference G-Force, in Melbourne yesterday, the company's senior vice president James Brooks said agents could expect a 10 to 30 percent pay increase if centres heed the results of a new study.

Brooks said the increase would counter an annual 42 percent call centre agent attrition rate.

The study blames high turnover on lack of work satisfaction and pay rates.

Dubbed Optimizing Agent Performance, the study surveyed nearly 100 call centre executives, 420 agents and 700 consumers across 19 industries including government, telecommunications and finance.

"Companies should be prepared to invest in agents by raising pay packets to stem the 42 percent attrition rate and attract new staff, [then] use these extra staff for proactive customer courtesy calls," Brooks said.

"Customer engagement begins with agent engagement, and turning customers into positive 'word of mouth' advocates requires an emotional connection with companies that is delivered by agents."

"Agents continue to be the face of most companies and it's the experience they deliver to customers that has the most impact on customer loyalty."

According to the survey, increased staff numbers would alleviate busy periods and would allow agents to make client courtesy calls which improves customer (89 percent) and employee (39 percent) satisfaction.

However 27 percent of call centres do not conduct courtesy calls and in those that do, fewer than 5 percent of customers receive annual calls.

The research found customer service accounted for 45 percent of sales, with product quality (30 percent), price (19 percent) and brand reputation (6 percent) contributing less.

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