Imagine walking into an airport and asking the gate attendant a question about your flight. They explain that it’s their first day, and don’t know. No big deal, you think, everyone has to start somewhere! But then your flight attendant points you to the wrong seat because it is their first day. Might be an interesting flight, you feel. But then the pilot comes on and announces it is their first flight, ever, and you start to think the bus might be a better option. The employee attrition rate at this airport is becoming a problem.
Obviously, you’d never accept that scenario. While we know that trainees are inevitable everywhere, we expect them to be buffeted by a layer of more trained and experienced employees who can guide them through rough spots and help them get better, quickly.
But what is unacceptable essentially everywhere is par for the course at contact centers, which see some of the highest rates of employee attrition in any industry. Low morale and difficult encounters lead to constant turnover, costing money and lowering CSAT scores.
With AI coaching though, employees can be better trained and better prepared to handle challenging scenarios. This can reduce attrition and get your team flying higher than ever before.
Understanding Employee Attrition at Contact Centers
Contact centers have attrition rates that would be staggering in almost any other industry. According to study done by ContactBabel, nearly 15% of contact centers have an attrition rate of 50% or more. That is at the far end, but overall, a full 30% of centers have a 25% or higher attrition rate. Indeed, the industry benchmark is maintaining less than a 40% attrition rate over the first six months.
Simply put, this kind of constant churn has contact centers constantly struggling to provide the best possible service. After all, losing so many employees means constantly having to train new people. And working in a contact center is hard work. You are dealing with people who might be upset. They might not know how to explain their issue. And the agent might not have any idea how to understand them or help out.
That’s scary for agents. If they are uncertain, each and every contact is a potentially frustrating and demoralizing situation. The less they are able to help, the more upset the customer gets, and that further erodes agent’s confidence for the next call.
There are trickle effects for this as well. The agent might feel the need to transfer the call to the supervisor or to a more experienced employee. This greatly increases the Average Handle Time, not to mention customer frustration. In addition to this, every transfer and every request for assistance takes time away from managers and from employees who already know how to handle difficult issues.
One of the less talked about problems of attrition has to do with those higher-level and more experienced agents. To put it bluntly: there are fewer of them. Just by math alone, when so many new and less-senior agents leave, there are fewer people with the knowledge to handle tricky issues. Let’s look at how that would play out.
The Danger of Inexperience
Let’s say a company makes phones. There is a whole list of common things that can go wrong with a phone, and every new customer contact agent is well-versed in them. They know how to handle charging issues. They know how to deal with a lack of service. They know what happens when too many apps are downloaded.
But then they get a call about someone who left their phone in the fridge overnight. They were getting a late-night snack while checking Insta, and just…left it there. There is nothing in the training handbook about this. What are they supposed to do?
If they had been working for a while, chances are they might have experienced a similar problem. They’ve heard all the weird stories. They might remember a senior employee talking about someone who left their phone outside on a cold night.
The point is, standard, script-based training can only go so far. Real humans never stick to the script. And a contact center without formal and informal institutional knowledge can only be so helpful.
The Paradox of Experience
By now you may have detected a paradox. Let’s break it down.
- Standard training can only go so far. It is largely passive learning (vs active learning), which doesn’t prepare people for the real world
- Real world interactions for new employees can be risky, since they might not be able to handle the issue, which frustrates the customer and demoralizes the employee
- Demoralized employees attrit, with all the impacts that carry
So if you want employees experienced enough to handle real interactions, they have to get to the floor. But if they are inexperienced when they get to the floor, they probably won’t stick around long enough to get the needed experience.
But with AI training, you can give your employees the experience they need without risky, morale-damaging real-life encounters.
How AI Coaching Can Reduce Employee Attrition
As we said, very few customer interactions stick exactly to the script. The best way to learn to think on your feet is to go off-script. And while a trainer can try to shake things up, they can’t anticipate the full range of human experience – and anyway, talking to a trainer is its own kind of artifice.
That is where the AI coaching platform from Zenarate can come in. This platform takes thousands of customer interactions and creates realistic and unpredictable scenarios which a trainee (or an upskilling employee) has to manage. It’s essentially dealing with a real customer but without any reputational risk.
If they get it wrong? No big deal – the platform can understand what went wrong, both in terms of hard metrics and soft skills, and can coach them. It also provides real-time feedback for managers to know which areas to improve upon. It’s far more targeted and values the time of experienced and senior employees.
Improved turnover rate for contact centers doesn’t have to be a dream. With the right AI coaching platform, employees can hit the floor with confidence, experience, and the ability to stick around for the long term.
Contact our team today to schedule a demo to learn more about how you can incorporate Zenarate AI Coach into your agent training program. We will answer your questions and show you how you can help your organization develop confidently prepared agents while delivering exceptional experiences to the ones that matter most – your customers.
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