Written by Eric Johnson, President and CEO of AnswerOn, Inc.

In the 1996 movie “Jerry McGuire,” Rod Tidwell (the character played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) famously implored McGuire (Tom Cruise)- “I wanna make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money.”[1]

MoneyUnfortunately, 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 6 years, we have tracked and analyzed the behavioral profiles of agents who ultimately attrite 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 agent’s schedules goes a long way towards building loyalty. How an operator accommodates requested, planned and unplanned schedule changes is key.
  • Attendance – Similar to #2, 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 on-boarded?  How are they trained?  How much time is spent “nesting” or allowing the agent to acclimate to the environment?  Who is the trainer 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 led to the disengagement was not money, but rather the perception of the operator and conversely how much value the operator placed on the agent.  In the movie, Rod Tidwell ultimately wanted more than “the money” – as do the majority of call center agents.

[1] Jerry Mcguire, 1996, TriStar Pictures

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