The Cost of Training an Agent

By January 27, 2017RankMiner Team Blogs
Friendly call center agent undergoing quality assurance evaluation

Call centers suffer a large attrition rate compared to other industries. According to the United States Bureau of Statistics, call center agents, usually in the 20-34 age range, only average a year in their job. As we have seen in the previous post, The Cost of Onboarding, research from Chris Bracken of Call Me! IQ tells us that globally agent turnover in large call centers can be as high as 49% annually.

Some call centers respond to this by mass hiring relatively cheap employees, trying to minimize their employment costs. However, there is a real danger of this practice further speeding up a firm’s attrition rate, as untrained and unprepared agents struggle to cope on the frontline and depart as soon as they can find more lucrative employment. In the meantime, it is likely that the call center struggles to meet their clients’ needs, with the untrained staff lacking sufficient knowledge of how to react to situations or satisfactorily answer questions.

Some surveys suggest the true cost of hiring a new employee to be two to three times the annual salary of that position. Obviously, if you are investing that much money in the hiring process, you need to ensure that you hire the right person and you want them to stick around for some time. That means that you need them to feel comfortable in their position and give them any assistance necessary to be successful.

The call center industry is no different than any other industry. It needs employees who are knowledgeable, conscientious and service-oriented, who know what they are doing and who are well trained.

The problem is that training is not cheap. It can consume a considerable portion of a call center’s resources, particularly if they need to repeat it to many new agents. Typically onboarding training lasts for two to six weeks. During this time the call center is likely to be paying salaries to the new employees, but they are not yet earning income for the call center. The call center will probably also have to pay for a supervisor to monitor the new employees until they are up to speed.

So how can your call center reduce its cost of training and onboarding new employees? Clearly, you need to ensure that your existing agents feel valued and capable in their work. You need to continue training after the initial onboarding. That ongoing investment in training could be in areas such as phone-based interactions, call center software, new products, and data management. You need to spot any potential issues before they become problems and help agents improve their skills.

Rank Miner’s Predictive Analytics can provide you with the data you need to have a clear picture of your agents’ performance. It helps you find the areas where your agents are struggling. You need to ensure that they see that this monitoring is designed for the purpose of upskilling them, not punishing them. You can use this data to design customized training that focuses on your agents’ trouble spots, which in turn can boost their confidence.

Your customers will certainly benefit if you can divert your training budget to upskilling your existing agents as it improves their ability to meet customer needs.  This is far better value than constantly reinventing the wheel, onboarding multiple new agents every year.