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What Factors Affect Call Center Turnover?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 21, 2024
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There are various factors which may affect call center turnover rates, including the type of work being done, the work environment, the pay scale for workers, and the benefits of remaining employed by the same company over time. Call centers have always been known for high turnover rates because the work is seen as boring, and call center employees often take the brunt of disgruntled customers' frustrations. Pay increases, employee and performance incentives, and benefit packages are all ways to reduce call center turnover.

Just like in any industry, the turnover rate for any particular call center will vary based on the company. The main factors employees may consider before leaving a company include the business environment, the types of calls they are making or receiving, and the pay they receive for doing good work. Chances for advancement within the company may lessen the turnover rate for some companies, although this is less likely to be effective in businesses where the work is boring and unskilled.

Another factor which greatly affects the call center turnover rate is the type of calls employees are receiving. Those who take sales calls from customers ready to make a purchase find the job more enjoyable than those who receive complaints or who make sales calls. Customers who are unhappy with a product or service or who are calling for tech support have a tendency to take their frustrations out on the call center worker. This can lead to higher turnover since most people choose not to remain in a job in which they are consistently treated badly.

Companies which have skilled rather than unskilled workers, such as in heavily technical fields, tend to have a lower turnover rate. This may be because the work is more interesting, since workers are often solving complex problems for customers or business owners. Additionally, they often earn a much higher salary than those who are working in unskilled positions.

The work environment of each individual call center also typically has a big impact on call center turnover rates. This may especially be true in sales jobs. If employees are held to unrealistic quotas or the jobs are totally commission based, the stress levels tend to be much higher than those who are paid a salary or an hourly wage. Long-term stress and making constant phone calls, especially cold calls, often leads to burnout.

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Discussion Comments
By anon355793 — On Nov 19, 2013

I met someone who lost her job after working a Verizon account. She met all the goals except one, which was Average Handle Time. She was only 540 seconds, but they fired her anyway. It seemed odd to me, because the average she had was not even all that high, but the standard of 480 seconds is enforced with extreme precision, which leads to even higher turnover.

By anon339369 — On Jun 22, 2013

High metrics and very high, unrealistic goals set by the call center help high turnover by mass write-ups and mass firings on a regular basis. Verizon is one example; you have to always meet all the six or seven goals. If you even miss one, and can't seem to get it, it costs you the job.

By anon264316 — On Apr 27, 2012

For employers: Misuse of the power inherent in supervisory positions, costs you more in turnover and lowered productivity, than the poor wages, boring work, long hours, angry customers and the odd shifts mentioned in this site, combined.

I have well over a decade of experience with two call centers and many more years in retail. I witnessed good, neutral and abusive leadership and their effect on myself and my co-workers. Please do not think that any employees, especially those in customer service positions, can be the target of and watch others be bullied, insulted, goaded, talked down to, humiliated and made to needlessly fear for their jobs and not have it result in a negative effect on your bottom line. Even one incidence of this is poisonous to moral, let alone habitual conduct.

Good and neutral leaders handle subordinates in all situations without resorting to abuse of power and would never even be tempted to abuse good or neutral subordinates simply because they have the power to do so. If you have screened and hired what appear to be normal and above employees and they are not producing well, are murmuring and are leaving, check very carefully up the chain of command; you may not have a toxic, negative crew. Rather, the individuals who seem to be great leaders when among peers and superiors may be the source of misery and damage to your company and your dollar.

I survived and sometimes more than thrived in spite of these conditions because of the neutral and good leadership that came before, alongside and after the misuses of power, and because of my own personal strengths and life experiences. Many of my coworkers did not survive the toxic exposure. Many thousands of company dollars were lost.

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