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    | 3 min read

    Curtailing the Flight of the Contact Center Agent

    Maintaining a high standard of service has never been more important for financial institutions, and contact centers play a pivotal role in this ecosystem, often being the first point of contact for members. However, the increasingly high attrition rate within contact centers presents a pressing challenge.

    According to SQL:

    With such low unemployment, agent job dissatisfaction, and the WFH model making it easy for agents to job-hop, it is no surprise that call center turnover is high. The average call center agent turnover was 35% in 2021 and 38% in 2022, which is the highest rate we have ever seen…It is very likely that in 2023, agent turnover will remain high.

    At SWBC, we recently took a deep dive into this issue by conducting a competitive study with Communication Strategies. Our goal was to identify the top factors contributing to contact center turnover.

    Our research identified the following pain points among contact center employees:

    • Lack of a Career Path
    • Mandatory Overtime
    • Lack of Training
    • Bad Leadership/Managers
    • Low Pay

    In this blog post, we’ll explore the ramifications contact center turnover is having on financial institutions—and their borrowers—and give helpful tips for curtailing this issue at your organization.

    Understanding the Magnitude of the Contact Center Attrition Problem

    At a glance, employee attrition at contact centers may seem like an easy fix—recruit, onboard, and train new agents. But delve deeper and the financial consequences of this turnover become starkly evident.

    Here's why high attrition rates should be a concern for financial institutions:

    1. Increased Recruitment Costs: Recruiting isn't just about the financial investment. It’s about the time invested in onboarding and training new hires.
    2. Dipping Customer Service Standards: A high attrition rate can translate to putting forth a less experienced team, which can negatively impact service quality.
    3. Diminished Employee Morale: Constant turnover can undermine team cohesion and morale.

    6 Strategies for Addressing the Root Causes of Attrition

    Understanding why attrition occurs is the first step in formulating a solution. The main culprits, as identified by Communication Strategies, include lack of career growth, mandatory overtime, inadequate training, unsupportive leadership, and non-competitive pay.

    There is no silver bullet that can address all of the issues, but if they are bucketed, prioritized, and executed upon, you can affect positive change at your institution. Here are six tips for addressing the issues above:

    1. Start at the recruiting process: A thorough, standardized recruitment process is essential to attract and retain the right candidates. Leverage technology, gauge the tone and communication clarity of applicants, conduct applicant assessments, and maintain a consistent recruitment methodology.
    2. Evaluate management regularly: Enhance retention by strengthening the leadership skills of your management team, emphasizing effective communication, empathy, team building, organization, and leadership.
    3. Ensure your compensation is competitive: To hold onto high-performing agents, consistently research and ensure that your salary and benefits packages are in line with or surpass industry standards.
    4. Invest in your training processes: Bolster your company culture with comprehensive training. Slow down the onboarding process, ensuring that agents are confident and capable. Enrich your programs with mentorship opportunities and refine strategies for remote and hybrid training.
    5. Invest in call center technology: Equip your team with up-to-date and intuitive technology. Empower agents to manage high call volumes effectively, preventing undue stress, burnout, and consequent attrition. Remember, the right tools not only increase efficiency but also agent satisfaction. Top of Form
    6. Conduct an Employee Survey: If your credit union operates its own contact center, or if you outsource some or part of your call volume to a third party, you may want to consider confidentially surveying your contact center representatives to identify the issues that are unique to your environment—especially if you (or your third-party provider) are operating around a 40% turnover rate.

    Managing a contact center comes with unique challenges, and at SWBC, we've adeptly navigated these waters for over 30 years on behalf of our financial institution clients. Maintaining profitability while balancing call volume fluctuations and the continuous need for hiring and training new agents can be daunting.

    To assist financial institutions that manage their own centers, we offer overflow outsourcing. This ensures that when expected events trigger a surge in inbound calls, they are seamlessly diverted to our seasoned agents. Likewise, routine tasks, like collecting loan application details, can be redirected to us. This strategic move allows your agents to focus on the more pressing concerns of your members, reducing the risk of job burnout.

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    Jeff Mortenson

    Jeff Mortenson is VP/client relations for AutoPilot® services. Jeff is primarily responsible for client relations surrounding SWBC's financial institution group's AutoPilot services; a suite of risk and account management services designed for financial institutions that want to more effectively manage the way they interact with consumers.

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