It's no secret that employee turnover is up across all industries. While this can be a headache for HR and recruitment programs no matter what business you're in, if your company has a sizeable hourly team like a call center or customer service center, you may already have a problem with employee retention.  

As the Chief Human Resources Officer at Leaf Home, a home improvement company that employs hundreds at our call center locations, I've experienced my fair share of turnover in the past. High turnover is typical for any organization, with averages of 30-45 percent before the pandemic began. But it doesn't have to stay this way: Working through our issues head-on has lowered our turnover rate relative to others in this space. 

Call center agents play a critical role in establishing and maintaining positive and productive customer relationships. Because of this, lowering call center turnover is an excellent investment and ensures your customers have the best experience possible. Unfortunately, many leaders think of call center employees as temporary, interchangeable staff members who take orders, set up appointments, or assist with customer service. There usually is very little interaction between these staff members and other coworkers across the business.  

This lack of investment creates a toxic cycle that hurts the business and your agents; the company treats agents as disposable and loses staff and knowledge. Remember that these agents are often the first customer touchpoint in your organization. As you look to reinvigorate culture in your call center, it's best to keep these tips in mind.

Use technology to your advantage

At Leaf Home, we equipped our call center with an in-house technology platform that matches our internal workflow. We kept it simple so that agents could focus on the task at hand (in this case, helping our customers) instead of the technology tools. Something too complex might turn off new employees, especially those who may be just entering the workforce, rejoining after some time away, or juggling multiple jobs.

"Lowering call center turnover is an excellent investment and ensures your customers have the best experience possible"

This tech stack provides valuable resources that can tie back to our more extensive company efforts—including marketing, sales, and more. For example, we can detect what marketing materials resonate with customers and bring more phone calls to the call center. This knowledge helps the larger company goals and reinforces the importance of what our hourly employees contribute to the larger customer journey.

Integrate, integrate, integrate

One common mistake companies make with larger call centers or customer service teams is outsourcing or drastically separating those teams from the rest of the business. This separation often makes these employees feel less than or extremely disjointed from the company. By doing this, all the hard work your HR team might be doing to create a collaborative, inclusive culture may be for naught. 

Integrating these departments into the rest of the business is the best approach. It provides unprecedented growth and professional development opportunities for these employees while broadening team building, process improvement, and collaboration. At Leaf Home, we've seen call center employees blossom within our organization--in fact, some of our most valuable HR colleagues started in our call center. Make sure the call center team shares the same benefits and perks that their colleagues in other departments enjoy, including competitive compensation, benefits programs, and incentive plans that reward outstanding performance.   

Lastly, don't forget that your people are the key to your success. Every single role plays a part in the success of a business, especially those who qualify leads, answer customer questions, and set up appointments. You need energetic, knowledgeable, focused, and satisfied employees to make first impressions count, so putting them at the center of your culture is essential. Investing in their culture will pay off with high growth, low turnover, and satisfied customers.