Customer Service Agent Turnover is Killing Your Customer Experience

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TaskUs

September 01, 2014
Agent turnover can seriously impact your customer experience

Agent turnover can seriously impact your customer experience.

You can map your customer’s journey from beginning to end, but when it comes down to it your customer experience is only memorable if it’s consistently good. And when it comes down to consistency, the key is to make sure that you not only have a repeatable process but also employees who exercise the discipline and care to make sure your customer experience stays the same. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why turnover within the ranks of your customer service team can be problematic. Every company expects to incur a certain level of turnover, but for customer care, a higher than normal turnover rate can hurt your brand and cause irreparable damage. Here’s a quick guide to how excessive agent turnover can impact customer care operations.

Turnover is expensive

Turnover costs businesses a ton of money – possibly more than you realize. It’s not just the high cost of recruiting and training new agents. You must also take into account the extra time other staff members must spend to adjust to this metaphorical revolving door. The human resources team adds piles of documentation to their workload; managers must conduct extra meetings to discuss logistics; remaining agents may require overtime in order to accommodate your business being short-staffed.

Turnover hurts agent morale

Let’s face it – with few exceptions, turnover is a negative occurrence. Both voluntary and involuntary turnover hurt morale and breed instability within your department. Voluntary turnover, where agents leave of their own volition, suggests that agents are not happy enough to stay with the company for any number of reasons including poor pay, lack of advancement or poor management. If a handful of representatives are leaving, you can guarantee that a portion of the remaining agents has similar grievances. Involuntary turnover, usually through termination, suggests that management isn’t properly vetting candidates to recruit agents who have the personality suited for customer service. The lack of team cohesiveness via turnover casts a negative shadow over the entire customer-facing operation.

In addition to losing trained customer representatives, excessive turnover can also impact the quality of your overall customer support. New recruits aren’t as productive as their more seasoned counterparts. In a low turnover environment, newbies are able to learn from veteran agents but if there is constant turnover, new agents must rely on supervisors to ensure that your customer service team doesn’t devolve into a “blind leading the blind” scenario. That can strain senior team members leading to burnout, attrition up the ranks or a drop in focus and productivity within your organization.

Customers notice turnover

While an exodus of customer service representatives is most certainly indicative of something deeper in your organization, it is particularly dangerous for the impact it can have on customer loyalty. Customer attrition due to turnover is the high price of not having stable teams. Whether you like it or not, customers notice when your agents aren’t on their game. Agent turnover breaks the rhythm of operation, which directly impacts customers who are reaching out for their assistance. Communico Ltd. puts it well: “high turnover begins a downward cycle that leads to reduced intellectual capital, decreased productivity [and] lower service level.”

The issue of customer attrition can be particularly pressing if turnover is sudden because it means other agents have to scramble to pick up the pieces when a colleague suddenly calls it quits. Remaining agents must shift their focus from their own job duties and this transference causes them to spread themselves too thin over multiple people’s duties. The resulting dip in your bandwidth can cause an increase in response times, backlogs of customer complaints and more.

“Where customers perceive little difference in either products or pricing, they attempt to differentiate on the basis of customer service,” explains the Assessment and Development Group International. If you ignore the brand degradation that comes with turnover, you’re missing out on opportunities to establish and nurture customer relationships. Here are the facts about how turnover affects bottom line:

  • There’s a direct link between employee turnover and loss of customers, says a Towers Watson study.
  • High turnover reduced service industry earnings 43%, according to a study by the Segal Group, which they estimate, cost $5.4 billion in revenue across the U.S.

Overall, turnover has a profoundly negative experience on your customer’s experience leading even loyal customers to choose competitors if they are dissatisfied with your service.

Solutions

If your company is plagued by high agent turnover you have options. Implementing incentives programs, offering higher wages, outsourcing labor and changing your recruiting process among them. If you’re currently outsourcing your customer care and constant employee attrition is a problem, ask your outsourcing partner to tell you why. A targeted and concerted focus on reducing turnover will be essential to helping you maintain – or transform – your customer experience, something your customers will be grateful for.

Additional Reading

  • http://2oms.com/2008/01/how-employee-turnover-creates-customer-turnover/
  • http://www.communicoltd.com/download/6_communico_white_paper2.pdf
  • http://www.towerswatson.com/assets/pdf/2012-Towers-Watson-Global-Workforce-Study.pdf
  • http://www.sibson.com/publications/surveysandstudies/2006ROWno1.pdf