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Saturday, April 24, 2010

THE RETENTION FACTOR: Training’s Impact on Turnover

The Retention Factor with Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D.

Agent turnover has always been, and continues to be, a chronically costly problem for call centers, a problem to be tolerated rather than solved.

Average turnover in the contact center is reported at 40 to 50%. Respondents to a *FurstPerson survey reported an average monthly attrition rate of 7.18%. Annualized, a 40% annual turnover estimate becomes an actual turnover rate of 87%.

Although 90% of corporate executives say that employees are the most important variable in their companies’ success, a Towers Perrin survey reported that in practice they rank people-related issues far below other business priorities. Executives agreed improving employee performance would improve business results -- 73% even said their most important investment was people. However, people-related issues, such as training and compensation, consistently ranked at the bottom of the list. It seems the mouth and the feet don’t always go in the same direction.

A profitable workforce requires well-trained, knowledgeable, conscientious, service-oriented employees who enjoy their responsibilities. Training is crucial. Recent studies in service industries link increased training to decreased employee turnover.

For instance:
Ryder Truck Rental discovered that among employees who participated in training programs, the turnover rate was 19%. For employees who did not participate, the rate soared to 41%.
Guest Quarters Suite Hotels report their low turnover rate is one indication of employee satisfaction. Additionally, but not surprising, there is a positive correlation between training, employee satisfaction, and guest satisfaction.

At this time when nearly all businesses are looking for ways to cut costs and save money, I would think reducing turnover would be a priority. Disruption of workforce stability should also be of concern to those who manage the customer care process.

FurstPerson reports the average cost of attrition at $5,466 per person. Interestingly, the cost of attrition in an internally managed contact center was reported at $7,994 per person, more than twice the cost of attrition at an outsourced center which was reported as $3,420 per person.
The disparity in cost is most likely related to the amount of time and money that is dedicated to training individuals in an internally managed contact center. And we’ve seen turnover in other reports as high as $8500 per person.

Let’s look at a typical scenario with 100 people and a 30% turnover rate.
100 people x 30% turnover = 30
This means that 30 people are leaving annually.
$7500 average (conservative) cost of new hire
$225,500+ + + = Turnover cost

Note: The plus pluses represent the additional cost of the learning curve. For instance, when senior representatives, supervisors, and/or managers need to sit with or give time to new hires this takes away from their productivity.

Also, you need to factor in consideration of the people having to take on the additional workload because of the short staffing, or likewise, when new hires are too "green" to be on their own. There is the subsequent declining morale that goes along with these examples. All of them impact productivity, customer (internal and external) satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.

Can you see the easy justification for investing in a training initiative of say $60,000 that could reduce turnover for almost a 4:1 return on your investment? Sounds like a slam dunk to me.

Let me know your comments, opinions, feedback, or please ask any questions you may have and we’ll be happy to respond.

ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializing in human performance management. Over the last 25 years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings as well as executive/leadership coaching. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality.

Known as "the practical champion of the human," she authored best sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th ed, Customer Service and the Human Experience, Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck (includes a 32-card deck of cards)—motivational and inspirational readings, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: ANOTHER 101 Insider Tips (, and The Expert’s Guide to Customer Service ( as well as her popular complimentary "tips" newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! at

Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. This certification training focuses on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.

For 10 years prior to starting her own organization, Rosanne had responsibility for marketing, budgeting, promoting and ultimately producing domestic and international computerized trade shows in the US, London, Belgium, and Frankfurt. She inaugurated, created, trained and directed a telemarketing on-site staff and was one of the first 150 people to attain CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification.

She is a columnist for, Ask the Expert at, and The National Networker. She represents the human element on the Advisory Board of an Italian software company, authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.

For more information, please visit Rosanne TNNW Bio.


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1 comment:

Dennis Kunkler said...

Ms. D'Ausilio described the problem perfectly. Too often execs short sighted and do not consider the bigger picture when letting workers go because of short term dips in their balance sheet. Then, do not spend appropriately when back in re-hiring mode.

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