One of the greatest challenges to developing the customer experience and consistently delivering great customer service is dealing with employee turnover.
I’m asked about how to manage employee turnover more than any other question, and probably more than all of the other questions combined. Ask any customer service manager or if you attend any customer service type conference, and you’re bound to hear about the topic of employee turnover.
Typical Call Center Employee Turnover Rates
Call centers are generally associated with high employee turnover rates. It’s not a myth, high employee turnover at call centers is a fact.
33% – average turnover rate in US call centers.
47% – average turnover rate in retail call centers.
51% – average turnover rate in subcontractor call centers.
(Source: Global Call Center Report, Cornell University – ILR School)
It seems like everyone is looking for a solution. Some quick fix that will magically take care of the turnover problem that keeps businesses from delivering that exceptional customer experience and a consistently high level of customer service. But, there’s a reason why people are always searching for a solution and always talking about the problem.
There is no magic solution to fix employee turnover. In any customer service type of organization, managers have to deal with employee turnover. The problem isn’t really turnover, it’s premature turnover.
Nothing will fix employee turnover, but can prevent premature employee turnover.
Premature turnover takes place when you have people leave your organization before the expected time. Yes, there’s an expected time. For some employees it’s a few years, for others it’s more. Regardless of the employee, you should never expect them to stay forever, that’s just not realistic. But leaving is ok, as long as it’s expected. It’s the unexpected employee turnover that turns your organization upside down. Suddenly there’s extra work that needs to be picked up, new hires that need to be made, training that needs to be completed, all of this breaks the rhythm and flow of your team.
What you can do to prevent premature employee turnover:
1. Hire the right people for the customer experience and prevent premature employee turnover.
Too often hiring suggestions involve interviewing practices, experience, orientation, etc. But these suggestions miss the point of what makes great customer experience and customer service people. It’s about the people. You can’t take the wrong person and expect your process to fix the fit, it doesn’t. A bad fit will lead to higher employee turnover rates in the long run.
The customer service naturals shine and keep employee turnover low, because they get to make a difference. They want to connect with people, do the right thing, and feel like the work they do each day helps someone’s day be better.
2. Use employees to build the customer experience process to prevent employee turnover.
People connect with what they create. People are encouraged when customer service managers include them in the customer experience planning process. Your team will react positively from managers who listen to what they have to say and feel like their input is valued and used in the creation process. This connection of employees and their work will motivate and generate a sense of ownership that keeps people around longer, reducing employee turnover.
3. Reward great customer experience performers to prevent employee turnover.
One of the greatest sources of frustration to employees is feeling that their efforts aren’t valued. But can you blame them? Too often we create environments where people receive the same paycheck if they do average work or excellent work. So where’s the incentive to go the extra mile? Poor reward systems increase the rate of employee turnover. At the awesome helpdesk software company, UserVoice, they’ve mastered the art of balancing great work, reducing employee turnover, and creating an awesome customer experience.
You don’t need to put everyone on commission, people like stability. But reward quality. Reward performance. Rewards can be monetary, they can be recognition, and they can be part of the environment at work.
Recruit the right people, let your people create, and reward performance and your customer experience mission will fix employee turnover.
People are not your most important asset, the RIGHT people are.
-Jim Collins, From Good to Great
You can’t fix employee turnover, but your can provide the tools, resources, and environment to attract the best customer experience people and keep them engaged in helping you implement your customer service mission.