Case Studies : Lowering Call Center Attrition and Improving Customer Service
Call centers wage a constant battle against high attrition rates and poor job satisfaction, factors that dramatically affect the customer service a company provides. One call center with unique employees has dramatically reduced these problems by developing a new management model.
Call centers are notorious for being high-stress work environments. The result is an industry wide problem of annual attrition rates that average 50% in the USA and reach even higher proportions in other countries. High attrition rates are endemic to the call-center industry because factors that create stress and hardship for call center employees are an inherent part of the job.
Those call centers that have managed to lower their attrition rates (without significant investment in extra training) and improved their customer service as a result have typically done so by making changes to the only ‘unscripted’ variable remaining to them—their management philosophy. One shining example of this approach is Call Yachol (CY), an Israeli call center that does outsourcing for companies such as Pelephone, a leading Israeli telecommunication company and a major Israeli bank. CY has annual attrition rates of 20%, far below industry standards.
CY’s founder and CEO, both of whom spent many years in the call-center industry before opening CY, have developed a unique and dramatically effective managerial style and corporate culture that is evident the moment one walks into their busy call center. CY, now in its 4th year, employs close to 200 hundred employees, the vast majority of which are people with significant physical and mental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, severe visual impairment, PTSD, and many others.
Because of the many personal hardships many of the employees face in their lives, CY insists the atmosphere on the work floor be as supportive as possible. Indeed, when I visited CY, I was struck by how warm and personal the place was while being extremely professional at the same time, an incredibly difficult balance for any company to achieve. I watched the company CEO arrive at work and make his way to his office through a labyrinth of busy cubicles while stopping to greet every single employee he passed along the way.
The conveyed he conveyed costs the company little yet pays huge dividends in employee performance. Feeling appreciated and cared for by company management from the top down affords call center employees an emotional buffer that allows them to manage the stresses of their jobs and consequently, provide a higher level of customer service.
In addition, lower attrition rates mean the call center as a whole can develop a more experienced and knowledgeable staff that elevate the level of customer service they provide even further, a win-win-win (company-employees-customers) for all involved.
CY’s care for their employees is a managerial philosophy that does far more than pay lip service to an ideal. Managers undergo unique sensitivity training and are required to have the right state of mind to convey authentic caring all the way down the ranks. Their corporate culture, as any, starts right from the top and is a thread woven into the fabric of the company itself. It is that thread that is most responsible for their success.
2011 Guy Winch Ph.D.
About Call Yachol (CY):
A company providing contact center outsourcing in Israel that employs people with disabilites.
Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011