Written by Eric Johnson, President and CEO of AnswerOn, Inc.
Updated; May 25th, 2022
In the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire,” Rod Tidwell (the character played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) famously implored Maguire (Tom Cruise)- “I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money.”
Unfortunately, this is the image many call center operators have on what is causing attrition at their site. The theory is that the MAIN reason agents are leaving is ultimately related to money. While this theory is certainly true for sites drastically (>20%) under the market rate for their regions, our experience is money by itself is not usually the primary driving factor in agent attrition.
AnswerOn has built a behavioral database based on interactions with thousands of agents. For over 12 years, we have tracked and analyzed the behavioral profiles of agents who ultimately attrit and those who show the most loyalty.
The reasons for attrition can be broken down into at least six categories:
- Workplace environment – For brick and mortar call centers, a clean, well lit, safe environment is of crucial importance to employee satisfaction. Similarly, the perception of this environment as clean, well-lit and safe is important as well.
- Scheduling – How you handle schedules goes a long way towards building loyalty. How an operator accommodates requested, planned and unplanned schedule changes is key.
- Attendance – Similar to scheduling, attendance is also a big driver of loyalty. By itself, attendance in the form of absences like “No call, No shows” is probably the number 1 reason for employees to be terminated. But how a call center operator handles the unplanned and unexpected attendance issues does much to influence loyalty.
- Discipline – What is the policy for disciplinary action and how is it implemented? While it is important to enforce company policies, we have found the implementation of these policies correlates to loyalty.
- Advancement – What is your career path for the agent? Is it straightforward and can it be easily discerned? Do employees perceive it as arbitrary and fraught with cronyism?
- Onboarding – How is a new agent onboarded? How are they trained? How much time is spent “nesting” or allowing the agent to acclimate to the environment? Who are the trainers and how good are they?
These are just a few of the categories for the many reasons an agent can become disengaged and seek another job. The impetus which leads to disengagement is not money, but rather the perception of the operator and conversely how much value the operator places on the agent.
A recent Pew Research article (March 9th, 2022) cited Low Pay and Opportunity for advancement as virtually tied. They summarize in the article these additional reasons:
Pay is important, but pay does little to drive loyalty which is the most reliable harbinger of attrition. In the movie, Rod Tidwell ultimately wanted more than “the money” – as do the majority of call center agents.
 Jerry Maguire, 1996, TriStar Pictures