Preventing call center attrition quiz answers

Discover how to prevent call center attrition with the answers to SearchCRM.com's quiz.

1) Answer: B.
According to call center metrics expert Lori Bocklund, annualized attrition is generally referred to as turnover – the percentage of call center staff lost that year.

"Some companies will define positive or internal attrition separate from other attrition to show the results of promotions within the company versus those who quit or are fired," Bocklund said in an Ask the Expert response defining attrition, utilization, occupancy and shrinkage.

Bocklund pointed out that occupancy and utilization are also used interchangeably in the industry. Both reveal the percent of time call center agents are on calls or in wrap-up.

"Shrinkage is a measure of how much time is lost to things like vacation, breaks, lunch, holidays, sick time and training," Bocklund said. "So you calculate it by first defining what you need to include, and then defining how much time is needed for these things. It is often expressed as a percentage, but can also be a factor applied to the number of staff needed active on phones to reflect the number you need to schedule."

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2) Answer: A.
According to a research survey conducted by TalentKeepers, a Maitland, Fla.- based consultancy that provides employee retention services, employees said they most value trust in their supervisors, followed by communication and flexibility. Experts say call centers need to promote trust in call center supervisors and measure call center attrition.

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3) Answer: B.
According to the TalentKeepers survey, the No. 1 reason for job abandonment is leadership (or lack thereof).

"They join for things. They stay for people," said Richard Finnegan, chief client services officer at TalentKeepers. "Being a supervisor is a hard job, and I think it's harder in a call center than anywhere else."

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4) Answer: C.
Turnover, or call center attrition, is the metric most commonly used to measure call center agent satisfaction, according to Lori Bocklund. Surveys, focus groups (generally run by outside resources), exit interviews and suggestion boxes are other tools used to measure satisfaction.

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5) Answer: A -- True. 
Carving out a career path for call center agents has helped Houston-based Continental Airlines bring its annual agent attrition rate below 5%. That figure is the envy of many a call center manager.

In a SearchCRM.com news article, a director at Continental said that high-performing agents within their call center are given the opportunity to apply for temporary positions at headquarters -- in departments like reservations, marketing and technology. According to call center expert Donna Fluss, employees who see a career path both within the call center and also in the wider enterprise are far more likely to stay with a company, thus increasing agent retention. Additionally, call center agents bring a valuable perspective to the rest of the organization due to their direct interactions with customers.

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6) Answer: B -- False.
Experts have suggested that creating a call center retention roadmap is an effective method for lowering call center attrition. In a news article on SearchCRM.com, Richard Finnegan, chief client services officer at TalentKeepers, suggested that call center supervisors should be measured on the number of agents in an incoming class who stay past 90 days and rewarded accordingly.

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7) Answer: B -- False.
According to Dru Phelps, vice president of certification at Benchmark Portal, an agent with a sense of ownership in the customer service process will be more invested in satisfying customers. Benchmark Portal regularly partners with the Center for Customer-Driven Quality at Purdue University to offer call center reports and certification.

Virgin Mobile Canada put faith in their employees when they gave gave call center agents more responsibility for the crediting process. Managers increased from $20 to $200 the amount that agents are allowed to credit to the bills of angry customers. Instead of more credit being applied to customer bills, Nancy Tichbon, director of customer care at Virgin Mobile Canada, said the amount has declined. "Agents have given customers 130% less credit [following the change]," Tichbon said.

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8) Answer: C.
According to Jim Davies, principal analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, technology is a small part of getting the most out of contact center agents, but it should not be overlooked. In an interview with SearchCRM.com, Davies pointed out that workforce management tools facilitate agent self-scheduling, which leads to happier and more productive call center agents.

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9) Answer: B -- False.
Call center agents who work from home can be more productive and enthusiastic, according to Stephen Loynd, senior analyst with IDC. Remote agents often show better employee retention rates, which can lower costs for the call center. Additionally, the ability to work from home provides greater flexibility in scheduling working hours and responding to spikes in call volume.

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10) Answer: B.
According to expert Lori Bocklund, the most common way to calculate agent turnover is to divide the number of agents who left by the number of agents staffed at the beginning of any period.

In a SearchCRM.com Ask the Expert response on calculating agent churn , Bocklund provided an example:

"[If] 100 agents started the month and 98 agents remained at the beginning of the following month would equal a 2% turnover rate," she said.

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This was first published in July 2007

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