Is Contact Center Turnover Cause For Celebration?

I originally wrote this as a guest post for one of my heroes in the contact center world.  Melissa Kovacevic is a brilliant customer service and contact center thought leader.  Read my original post and other fantastic posts on her blog.

turnoverRegardless of the size of your contact center, turnover hurts. But in the small contact center where the sense of community is strong and turnover rates are low, it really hurts. We are getting the most from every agent so when an agent gives their two weeks notice or gets promoted to another department, it’s not likely that we’ll be ready with a suitable replacement in time—leaving a void in our customer service operation. Furthermore, we’ve invested a lot of sweat equity in their development, only to see them leave the team or even the company.

Before I go any further, I want to identify the two types of turnover we typically encounter.

Bad turnover is when employees are fired, laid off or simply leave for a number of other negative reasons.

The turnover I want to talk about today is the good turnover. Allow me to break down the two types of good turnover in our contact centers:

The Internal Promotion- In these cases, the agent has proven that they are first and foremost a fit for the culture of the organization and secondly, that their skillset can be an asset to another part of the business. Depending on their abilities, they might move into marketing, engineering or perhaps an area of management.

The External Promotion- In these cases, the right opportunity within the organization didn’t exist and the employee went out and landed a job with a marked increase in both responsibility and compensation.

Regardless of the type of good turnover you face, it presents a challenge for the contact center leader and can cause a great deal of stress. I’m here to tell you that any response other than celebration in the face of good turnover is selfishness!

Before you check out completely, hear me out. I’m fresh off a situation where one of our most productive agents left for another company where he landed a marketing job that doubled his salary. He would have been foolish not to take the job and we were in no position to match the offer. While we didn’t promote him to a marketing position, we did allow him opportunities to gain experience with key skills required in his new position– making the jump possible.

As contact center leaders we should always aim to celebrate in the success of our employees.

How do you get to a place of happiness you ask?  Here are three actions that should be a part of your leadership style in the contact center:

1. Understand the strengths of your employees- Great leaders gain clear understanding of the unique strengths that each employee possesses. By understanding their strengths, you can then put them in positions to succeed.

2. Set goals with your employees- Is answering call after call, day after day, year after year really a goal? Maybe for some it us, but many people are using customer service as a stepping-stone to their ultimate career. We need to understand that and support them in achieving their goals.

3. Seek opportunities for your employees- In our contact centers we’re always aware of the ever-present need to get the calls answered and it is a challenge to give any agent time away from the phones. Whether it’s involving an employee in a meeting, brainstorming session or project that takes them off the phones, don’t underestimate the benefit of giving your employees a broad range of experiences.

At the end of the day, great leaders put their people in the best possible position to succeed given their unique skills and abilities. If you’ve successfully done this, good turnover will be cause for celebration and an opportunity to lead their replacement toward their ultimate career goals!

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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