National Association of Call Centers

May 2015: Disrupting The Agent Turnover Routine




Disrupting The Agent Turnover Routine

Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research,[email protected]

Kevin Hegebarth, Vice President Marketing, HireIQ,[email protected]

(Note from Paul: As you know, I closely follow changes in contact center employment.  Despite the  economic challenges of the recent recession, the contact center industry continues to grow yet personnel turnover remains the plague of the industry.  Kevin Hegebarth is a longtime business colleague of mine and an authority on employment strategies and tactics so I asked him to co-author this article with me.  For a complete analysis of HireIQ’s recent breakthrough in managing agent turnover, referenced in the following article, NACC members may download my most recent Research Note at the website,

With annualized contact center industry personnel turnover of about 30 percent, the revolving door of contact center employment has negative effects on company financial performance as well as customer retention efforts.  Agent turnover costs the industry $4B (that’s Billion with a “B”) annually.  That’s approximately the gross national product of the island nation of Barbados.

This seemingly intractable problem is one of the biggest, most persistent challenges that our industry faces and no investment in technology or process innovation can mask its impact on customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall customer service performance. Change has to occur at the front-end of the agent lifecycle – the recruiting and hiring process. And it appears HireIQ Solutions has become the catalyst for that change.

HireIQ has disrupted the manner in which contact center organizations hire agents. Through their clever use of audio analysis, which they call Audiolytics, and Candidate Optimizer, their machine-learning, predictive analytics engine that uses client-reported business outcomes to automatically identify likely excellent performers early in this hiring process, companies are now able to make substantial progress in their fight against attrition and improve their center’s performance to boot. The recently published Saddletree Research analysis of this breakthrough is available for download to NACC members at the website,

HireIQ’s approach is a significant departure from the status quo and has yielded excellent results for its customers. Many companies still use outdated personality, cognitive, intelligence, and behavioral assessments, which are deeply rooted in the 1950’s-era corporate context, according to Dr. Peter Cappelli, the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. On HireIQ’s approach, Dr. Cappelli said that the company developed a solution that was designed to fit a much faster hiring cycle and to address the special requirements of customer facing jobs.

HireIQ’s approach is to use record candidate responses using interactive voice response applied in the early-stage candidate screening process. It then mines the recorded audio for emotional cues that are indicative of long-tenured, high-performance employees. The company has assessed millions of individual data points collected from its customers to create highly predictive, very reliable results. This passive approach also eliminates the common tactic of trying to “game” or outsmart a traditional assessment, which results in a skewed outcome.

The foundation of HireIQ’s method is grounded in modern-day organizational and academic science. These research studies conclude that emotion is an increasingly important factor in job performance, customer service satisfaction, and employee engagement. Furthermore, a study by Dale Carnegie Training reports that employees who exhibit positive emotions are five times more likely to be engaged than those who feel negative ones. Conversely, those who feel negative emotions are almost ten times more likely to be disengaged than those who experience positive ones.

Customer results bolster these findings. One customer reported a 60% decrease in critical 90-day, post-training attrition after they introduced HireIQ into their screening process. Another saw 1-year retention double. Attainment against key performance indicators has improved significantly as well. One customer reported a 56% improvement in FCR attainment and another showed a 37% increase in CSAT achievement. All of these factors have a real, significant, and measureable impact on overall corporate performance and profitability.

Without a doubt, it will not be “business as usual” for contact centers that implement HireIQ solutions in their agent recruitment and selection process.  Their world is about to change and, by extension, the normal course of the business of recruiting and hiring agents is about to change with it.  

For further information about HireIQ Solutions, please visit Follow HireIQ on Twitter at

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