By Eric Johnson, CEO and President of AnswerOn, Inc.

As many of you may know, I am an enthusiastic Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer.  I like the challenge and complexity the sport has to offer: 1) Finding the best site to find fish; 2) Matching the Hatch or knowing what insects are prevalent which the fish are eating; 3)  Presentation or how do you get your little bit of thread and feathers that look like some insect in front of the fish so they will bite it?; 4)  Execute / Follow Through – the fly looks enough like what the fish needs that it is willing to try it out as a potential meal and you need to know how to “set the hook” or follow through so the fish can be caught; 5)  Play or guarantee success– fighting the fish all the way to your net; 6)  Release –  Best non-stressful way to release the fish back into its native environment.

While I am sure there are quite a few sub-categories for each category, such as “which is the best cast” or “reading the water,” the above steps provide a solid start in understanding the sport of fly fishing.

A fisherman’s consideration of these many factors seems to me to parallel a company’s various approaches to combating attrition. Like the fisherman’s choice of an ineffective fly, a number of anti-attrition strategies are totally ineffective.

Fly Fishing vs. Anti-attrition strategy:

1).  Finding the best site and Matching the Hatch: There are approaches which try to engage the entire call center, addressing both at risk and non-at risk agents. This approach to handling attrition resembles a fisherman trying to fish every part of a river, hoping to catch a fish. In reality, only a few of the river’s sites actually harbor fish, and could be sensibly explored. We often see companies try to solve systemic problems by offering everyone a fun day, contests, etc. Engaging the entire call center when trying to pinpoint attrition factors ends up being both time consuming and wasteful; it is simply not an effective battle plan.

2).  Matching the Hatch: Insect hatches occur at many different times and have a specific cycle.  They don’t all happen at once and knowing when each specific insect is hatching and what part of their life cycle they are in, propels a fisherman toward ultimate success. AnswerOn’s approach is similar. By modeling each individual agent and discerning when an agent is moving toward disengagement, we can suggest a customized offer to “catch” individual agents, thus preventing their leaving.

3).  Presentation and execute / follow through: A fisherman’s initial “presentation” to the fish is as key to fishing as is the initial “talk” to a dissatisfied agent. AnswerOn reports to its clients which agents are likely to leave, why they are going to leave, and what our clients need to do to save agents. With the use of our prescriptive analytics, AnswerOn is able to tailor an analytic approach which zeroes in on the source of dissatisfaction and suggest ways to solve the problem. This customized agent analysis proves the hardest and most crucial aspect in the effective campaign to save call center employees.

4).  Play or guarantee success: Okay, you have located the best site along the river, you have “matched the hatch,” made a good presentation and followed through. Now all you need to do is simply guide the fish into the net, right?  Not quite. Surprisingly, after these strategies have been employed, a call center’s retention should equal 100%, but that is not quite accurate. There remains the risk, for fishermen and call center managers, of losing a fish/agent. However, utilizing AnswerOn’s program for agent retention, your company has gone a long way in matching the right offer to the individual agent. The AnswerOn solution also monitors each retained agent to make sure the interaction was successful, and remains so.

5).  Release: Interactions with agents to reduce attrition and improve performance can be threatening. In studies conducted at AnswerOn we can conclude the risk is greatest if no discussion is made, lower if a non-specific but relevant offer is made, and lowest if a specific targeted offer is made.

I hope you have enjoyed this guide to “Fishing the Call Center.”  Unlike needing to buy all the gear you need to be successful in fly fishing, with AnswerOn you don’t need to change your call center infrastructure.  If you would like a free “Finding The Best Site” assessment of the root causes of your call center, contact us.

If you’re interested in learning more about actual Fly Fishing, take a look at’s Ultimate Guide to Fly Fishing.