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CSR churn is a massive hidden cost that impacts on a wide range of key metrics – how do you fix it?

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Note on keyboard - I quit!

One of the sweeping themes of 2021 was the #GreatResignation when employees started leaving their jobs at record rates. This refocused employers on the cost and disruption caused by employee churn and the need to retain their talent.

Employee churn certainly isn’t new in the customer service world, where turnover rates are consistently between 30 and 45% globally. The average junior agent only remains with their employer for a year.

Replacing a Customer Service Rep costs at least $10,000

This has a huge impact on CSP support organisations and comes at a massive cost.

The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals, for example, says that replacing a frontline agent costs between $10,000 and $15,000 (about 20% of the agent’s salary). The Society for Human Resources Management conducted a study that suggested the cost could be as high as 50-70% of an agent’s annual salary. The more experienced and skilled the agent, the higher the cost.

Whichever figure you believe, reducing this cost by even a modest amount can save huge sums. But the impact of losing so many skilled agents isn’t just monetary. Skilled agents are more likely to offer a higher service quality, resolve problem on the first call, and clear up problems faster. Agent attrition therefore impacts directly on customer experience and indirectly on churn, affecting key metrics such as AHT, FCR and CSAT. In fact, a survey by TalentKeepers found that customer approval ratings are 86% higher for experienced agents, resulting in a 77% greater impact on CSAT.

Why agents churn: employee effort is just as important as customer effort

Agents churn because they’re unhappy with their job. The question is why?

We know that customer effort has a major impact on experience.

According to Gartner, 96% of customers who experience a high-effort interaction become disloyal compared to just 9% who have a low-effort experience. High-effort experiences derive from having to switch channel, repeat information, be transferred to another team and so on.

“Customer effort is 40% more accurate at predicting customer loyalty as opposed to customer satisfaction.” Andrew Schumacher, Senior Principal, Advisory, Gartner.

Just as customer effort is now recognized and monitored due to its critical role in maintaining a good customer experience and reducing churn, employee effort is a major predictor of dissatisfaction and churn amongst customer service staff.

A recent survey by Dixa, for example, looked at the experience of 1,500 agents in the US and the UK.

This found that 59% of agents lack the knowledge to provide a better service and 72% said they wished it was easier to access customer information via their tools. Three-quarters (75%) felt under too much pressure to work faster and 79% said that their workload was already too heavy.

So what can be done to reduce employee effort, alleviate excessive workloads, improve employee experience and reduce call center attrition rates?

Ofcom data points to high levels of rework

We know that a high level of traffic to call centers results from service quality issues. The UK regulator, Ofcom, provides detailed annual data on customer satisfaction which reveals that in 2021, 9% of mobile customers complained, with 48% of complaints being because their service was not performing as expected. Of those who complained, 47% were dissatisfied with how their inquiry was handled and 57% had to ring multiple times before the problem was resolved. These findings are in line with those of the previous year.

This data points to high levels of rework. By not resolving a problem on the first call, the customer has to ring the call center again, and the call center has to field another call from a customer who is now even more frustrated.

The solution is to provide Service Reps with better tools

The solution is to give service staff the data they need to resolve problems efficiently on the first call. Not only will this meet the expectations of the 72% of agents who would like easier access to information, but agents will be able to resolve inquiries faster and more effectively – increasing the proportion of first call resolution, lowering costs and increasing customer satisfaction.

The result is a virtuous circle of happier agents and happier customers.

To find out how you can boost both the employee experience of your agents, as well as their efficiency, check out Subtonomy’s solution for customer support and self-care, which transforms the way agents resolve service quality inquiries through access to high-quality, holistic, real-time data about the real quality of service customers are experiencing.


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