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Topics: Call Centers

You’ve no doubt heard the word “attrition.” It’s a commonly used metric in most customer service departments. If you’ve gone shopping for call center services, you’ve probably asked about it yourself.

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You likely worry about it because turnover affects your bottom line, the cost of the call center, and even your ability to deliver customer service.

There are so many myths about attrition floating around out there that it can be difficult to discern what you actually need to know. These five facts and stats should help clear the air.

1. There’s No Real Standard

Three different companies will measure attrition in three different ways. One company might count a new hire who accepts the job but doesn’t show up for work as part of the attrition rate. Another company wouldn’t.

The result? Attrition looks much worse with one company than another, but it’s only because of how it’s measured.

2. Average Time to Replace Is More Important

Most people ask about how many people left the company, but fewer ask about how long it took to fill the positions. This statistic is often more telling than attrition.

Why? You want to know how long those empty desks will stay that way. If it’s taking months to fill empty positions, you’ll likely have trouble with customer service delivery. Your call center may be short-staffed more often even if call volume remains relatively stable. You may not worry about it, but your customers will certainly note longer wait times!

3. Employee Engagement Isn’t All Hype

Have you talked with your prospective call center partner about employee engagement initiatives? If the outsourcer has taken steps to boost engagement or conducted research on engagement in the company, ask to see the results.

Why should you care? Research shows engaged employees less likely to leave. If you want to worry less about ensuring your call center is always well-staffed, look to how your partner ensures employees are happy in their roles.

4. You Need to Ask about Organization Structure

Most call center providers divide their employees into units, departments, or teams. These units then work on client portfolios. Team members may have particular expertise. Ask about how your provider divvies up the workforce among clients.

Why should you care about division? You want to get unit-specific statistics about attrition. If a particular unit is overseeing your portfolio, you want to ask about attrition for that unit, not the company as a whole.

You should also ask the provider to differentiate between employees who are moving between roles and units and those who actually leave the company. These moves might be rolled into an attrition rate, but separating them gives you a clearer view of what’s really going on behind the scenes.

5. It’s Essentially Useless

If you insist on asking about attrition, you need to make sure you’re getting relevant information. This is why you need to use the same calculation formula or know which formula your potential provider is using. It’s also why you should ask about particular roles, units, teams, and even classes of agents.

Otherwise, “attrition” is a virtually useless average. No team is average, which means even your most careful calculations could go out the window relatively quickly.

Ask some of the questions on this list instead and keep in mind these facts and statistics when you’re pondering the attrition question. They’ll help you make better decisions.


10 Questions to Ask Instead of Attrition

Jason Henning

Jason Henning

Jason is the senior vice president of Bill Gosling Outsourcing’s offshore location in the Philippines. He began this role in 2012 and was an integral part of the company’s development. Jason has over 10 years of experience in international operations; he managed all aspects of operations, profitability, and business development for Convergys’ offshore accounts receivable management. He’s also an avid golf player and a Delta Million Miler traveler.

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