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High staff attrition rates have long been a major bugbear, and a significant cost, to contact centre operators. Now, like every other aspect of customer contact, staff attrition is being examined afresh through the lens of ‘customer experience’ or, more specifically, the striving for an optimal customer experience.

Research firm Everest Group has produced a white paper ‘Defining and Discussing Contact Center Attrition’ in which it argues that there has been a shift in the way staff attrition is viewed, one that points to “a more sophisticated appreciation and discussion of issues surrounding attrition, where the focus is clearly moving beyond cost savings."

Everest says that organisations are increasingly thinking about the links between the operational aspects of attrition and the business outcomes impact viewed through the lens of customer experience.

The White Paper goes on to establish a clear definition for capturing attrition rates, factors that impact attrition rates and key levers, used to manage and reduce attrition.

Everest group says it has observed a noticeable shift in the way contact centre operators view attrition. "Increasingly the focus on the management of attrition rates isn't about shaving off an additional five percentage points or meeting SLAs. Instead, the growing focus for call centre outsourcing buyers and providers is how to more strategically impact attrition rates, accept the existence of attrition as a reality and focus on optimising contacts and operations despite fluctuating attrition rates.”

It continues: "Savvy contact centre outsourcer clients better appreciate the inevitable realities of attrition and are increasingly testing service providers to demonstrate their attrition reduction programs as well as plans for mediating the impact of attrition."

They are asking questions about practices and processes that service providers implement to address knowledge transfer skills, redundancy and account knowledge. They want to know about training programs, about how team culture is nurtured and how staff are incentivised to care about their customer interactions.

And, Everest Group says, providers of outsourced call centre services have also had to adapt to this maturing market. "Compared to just 5 to 10 years ago, service providers have significantly enhanced the role of recruitment practices, candidate screening and qualification processes.

“There have also worked towards maintaining pipelines of appropriately skilled candidates in the various geographies in which they operate. Similarly, staff retention practices have become bigger priorities as operators focus on enhancing the quality of the experience and on driving effectiveness in managing the costs associated new-hiring and training."

The upshot of all this, Everest group concludes, is that there is a need for closer co-operation between providers of outsourced call centre services and their clients. “CCO plans and service providers will need to work together. … For both CCO buyers and providers the goal of attrition management is to achieve specific business outcomes. Achieving these business outcomes should be the priority and attrition management should be viewed as an enabling mechanism that the determining factor."

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