Many executives pay close attention to attrition in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, but there is often a general feeling that it can’t be improved – people will always come and go and contact centers are just a high turnover environment.
Some attrition will always exist in any company, but I don’t believe that we have no levers or ability to improve the situation. It is a subject that needs to be taken more seriously. The research company ContactBabel estimates that BPO attrition averages at around 49%. This will differ across industries and geographic regions, but even as an average it indicates that every year you will need to replace and train half of your entire workforce.
That’s a major expense. The process of finding and hiring new people has a cost, but there is also the underlying cost of constantly introducing less experienced team members that can’t perform to the same level as those with solid experience. In a sales environment this can mean that a new team member cannot perform at a high level for the first couple of months they are in the role. So there are costs involved in constantly searching for new people, but also direct business costs if your team is performing at a lower level than they could be.
Management experts advise several ways to manage attrition, including offering clear career progression, offering a supportive work environment, and (of course) offering competitive salaries, but there is one that stands above all the others and that is building a positive corporate culture. Creating the kind of company that people want to work for.
There is an old saying that people leave managers, not companies, but how do you address this?
Talking to Call Center Helper magazine, Dougie Cameron, Director of addzest consulting said: “Bad managers don’t exist in isolation, they’re part of a culture. So, either a culture exists that hasn’t moved these bad managers out of the business or a culture exists that encourages their behavior which is making people leave.”
The culture of your business defines how managers behave and how people at all levels of the organization pull together and feel they are building solutions for your clients.
We have taken this really seriously at NEARSOL. If we hired people only based on their academic achievements or work experience then this would ignore whether they have the right cultural approach – do they really want to help customers? Ignoring this cultural fit during the recruitment and training process can be expensive because people who join and leave quickly fuel those attrition numbers and prevent the team from gaining the experience it needs to really excel.
Our recruitment process uses a really smart chatbot that allows us to automate and standardize many of the questions, so we can apply Artificial Intelligence to the interactions with a prospective recruit and figure out who is likely to have the values that will be appreciated inside a customer service environment.
Our NEARSOL Intelligence Assistant (NIA) makes recruitment fun and simple, both for the applicant and our HR team. We know that applicants meet all the basic requirements for the job, but once they start engaging with NIA the tools can detect if this person has the cultural fit that indicates the potential for a long-term team member.
Every BPO always needs a certain level of manageable attrition, because we always want to be introducing new talent, but when attrition means you are constantly training a team that never quite hits peak performance then it’s a problem that will affect revenue and customer service measures, such as NPS. Using NIA, we have seen real-world customer service operations improve their NPS by 10 points.
This robust approach to culture and recruitment can improve team performance, raise NPS, and reduce the cost of all that constant recruitment. Feel free to check the link here or leave a question in the comments – I’d be happy to provide more detailed information and case studies.