Taking A Strategic And Organizational Approach
Recently I was at the Aspect Customer Experience conference in Atlanta, presenting a session on Changing The Game of Service. The keynote address was delivered by Keith Dawson, a Senior Analyst with the research firm Frost & Sullivan. Keith was formerly an editor for Call Center Magazine, and has been covering the call center industry for nearly 20 years. Currently, his work focuses on the customer experience, how that experience is measured, and how companies can manage that experience to their advantage.
Keith shared many insights into the state of the call center industry, but I was particularly struck by his comments on employee turnover. It’s widely acknowledged that turnover continues to be an enormous problem throughout the industry. Reliable statistics are not easily available, because many companies are reluctant to report accurate information. Annual turnover of 30% is a generally accepted industry standard. Privately, many companies acknowledge that their turnover is much higher.
The costs of turnover are enormous. There are the obvious expenses related to hiring, training, and low productivity as new employees get up to speed. And there are the less obvious but equally real costs of poor customer service, lost sales opportunities, and low morale.
Many call center leaders simply shrug and accept high turnover as an inevitable cost of business. But turnover is not inevitable, and some leading call centers have been able to reduce their turnover substantially – and, in the process, to reduce the associated costs, too.
What’s the secret?
The leading call centers recognize that turnover is an organizational issue, and they approach it from a strategic and organizational perspective. Here are 10 best practices that top performing call centers are utilizing to reduce turnover, improve performance, and increase profitability:
Ten Ways To Reduce Turnover In Your Call Center
- Hire right
- Focused coaching
- Consistency across supervisors
- Metrics that representatives buy into
- Career pathing
- Incentives tied to skills, not numbers
- Opportunities to acquire new skills
- Coordination of all information streams
- Positive feedback loops
It’s always possible to take a tactical approach and to implement one of these best practices. It won’t hurt, but it probably won’t help a great deal, either. It’s only by aligning and implementing all of these practices that companies are able to achieve dramatic reductions in employee turnover.
Two Challenges, One Solution
At The Elkind Group, we work with companies that want to transform service into sales. Like employee turnover, this is an organizational issue. And, like the leading call centers that have succeeded in reducing turnover, we approach this issue from a strategic and organizational perspective.
It’s always possible to take a tactical approach and to implement training or incentives. It won’t hurt, but it probably won’t help a great deal, either. It’s only by aligning and implementing all of the best service to sales practices that companies are able to achieve dramatic increases in sales results and maximize their return on investment.
Service To Sales Tips
- The transformation from service to sales is an organizational issue, not a training problem.
- Tactical approaches like training or incentives won’t hurt, but won’t achieve the results you want.
- To maximize your return on investment, take a strategic and organizational approach.