Is the contact center a good place for agents to build a career? With year-over-year attrition rates reaching 45% or above, the contact center can seem like a transient job. But in reality, we found that while many people leave within their first year, a majority of tenured agents spend longer in the contact center than they originally planned — and they’re happy to have done so.

We surveyed over 620 tenured agents to understand if they view the contact center as a strong career path, and the answer was a resounding yes.

Here’s why:

  1. The contact center is a people person’s dream job —agents get to work on their social skills, form relationships with others, and solve problems for customers.
  2. There’s plenty of room for advancement: 68% of tenured agents were actively working towards a promotion and 84.7% of agents were able to take on additional management responsibilities.
  3. Strong benefit programs lead to happy employees: 82.45% of agents received additional compensation on top of their salary and hybrid workers saw increases in both career perception and promotion-seeking activities.
  4. Mentorship is key to happiness and longevity in the contact center. 62.96% of agents had a mentor at work, and regardless of who this mentor was, these agents saw higher pay satisfaction, job satisfaction, career growth perception, and more.
  5. Guidance software acts as an effective sidekick: 60.87% of agents used guidance software and, regardless of tenure, all of those agents felt that guidance software helped them do their job better.

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A People Person’s Dream Job

By 2026, Gartner predicts that 75% of customers will call service lines due to loneliness, not because they have a customer service issue. We are in the midst of a loneliness epidemic, and consumers know that a helpful human is only a phone call away at any time. This could lead to:

  • Lack of customer adoption of self-service channels
  • Longer handle times
  • Increased demand for high emotional intelligence in agents
  • More emotional labor for agents that can lead to attrition down the line

In this environment, agents will have to expertly navigate conversations to keep calls efficient and effective while exhibiting high emotional intelligence and empathy skills, which can help meet consumer needs and build brand loyalty and trust.

The best agents for the job are people who love to talk to people.

We asked our respondents if they thought the contact center was a strong career choice and 85.5% said yes. The most common reasons for this answer were that respondents enjoyed talking to other people (21.75%), took pleasure in the work itself (19.9%) and appreciated the benefits they received (17.88%).

Figure 1: Respondent Reasons For Thinking The Contact Center is a Strong Career

The respondents who did not think of the contact center as a strong career choice (14.5%) had their own reasons for feeling this way: 32% stated that they were not passionate about the work itself, 22.67% found the work stressful, and 20% said they did not enjoy talking to people all day.

Figure 2: Respondent Reasons For Thinking The Contact Center is Not a Strong Career

Before managers start quizzing their job applicants about their social propensities, consider how the contact center can also be an effective training ground for those who want to work on their social skills.

One respondent shared: “[The contact center] fits my personality and helps me with my social anxiety problems by forcing me to speak to strangers while also not having to be face to face.”

“When I worked in service roles, I had a script, and I knew what I had to do to have a successful social interaction with a customer. This helped me build confidence through a body of evidence — you use your script correctly as a waitress and you get a dopamine hit in the form of a tip. It’s constant practice and instant feedback as you work on your social skills.”

– Lior Torenberg, Head of the Conversation Excellence Lab

Let’s also bust the myths around introverts and sales. Here are the facts:

  • Hyper-extraverted salespeople can alienate prospects
  • High levels of gregariousness (extraversion and sociability) are common in the bottom third of salespeople
  • The top 90th percentile of salespeople exhibit skills like modesty and humility

So while the contact center may be a people person’s dream job, consider ways you can leverage the superpowers of your introverts by addressing reasons #1 and #2 that people don’t find the contact center a good career: lack of passion, and stress

Here’s how you can apply these findings:

  • Take inventory of your agents: which ones thrive in social situations and which ones have their energy drained after too many calls?
  • Get proactive about addressing sources of employee pain. Ask your introverted agents if they are experiencing a lack of passion or increased stress in their roles.
  • See if you can switch up their workflows with additional, more solitary activities, like piloting new technology, walking the floor, QAing calls, or helping to develop and refine new processes (giving agents additional responsibilities led to a 12% increase in job satisfaction among respondents).

There’s Plenty of Room For Career Growth

Contact center attrition may be high, but those who stay past the 2-year mark tend to be excited about their opportunities for growth. Of our 621 tenured respondents, 67.63% were actively working towards a promotion in their current role. This comes at a time globally when only 16% of employees say they are willing to work harder and take on more responsibility to earn a promotion. Within the United States, this number was a bit higher at 23%, but still far below the contact center average.

We asked our promotion-driven respondents why they wanted a promotion and the results were as follows:

  • 42.75% believed that they had met the requirements for the promotion and were ready for the responsibility
  • 24.17% wanted increased pay
  • 19.08% saw the promotion as an opportunity for personal development and growth

Figure 3: Reasons For Working Towards a Promotion

The 32.37% of employees who were not actively working towards a promotion in the contact center gave the following reasons:

  • 24.12% did not want more responsibility
  • 18.82% were not interested in a management position
  • 17.06% enjoyed their current role

Figure 4: Reasons For Not Working Towards a Promotion

Contact centers also saw an extremely high rate of internal promotions at 62.69%. 19.65% of respondents said that their company promotes 91-100% of agents internally rather than hiring outside supervisors, followed by 14.01% at 71-80% and 13.37% at 51-60%. This can be compared to the average company, which only promotes 8.9% of their entry-level roles to managerial positions internally, and hires the rest externally.

The high rate of internal promotions in the contact center leads to pumped-up satisfaction levels: companies that promote 91-100% internally saw job satisfaction averages of 4.27 out of 5 compared to 2.96 out of 5 at companies who only promote 21-30% internally.

Figure 5: Job Satisfaction by Rate of Internal Promotion

“100% of our supervisory roles below director level were internal promotions. It’s crucial to have direct experience of things like call flows, processes, and winning behavior. For agents, it’s an important change of perspective: they need to stay engaged and understand best practices in a way that’s coachable to other agents. Suddenly, their work has greater meaning and impact. The whole team benefits before, during, and after an internal promotion.”

– Michelle Barbeau, Senior Customer Enablement Manager

The only metric which didn’t improve linearly with rate of internal promotion was whether or not respondents were actively working towards a promotion. The highest rate of respondents who were working towards a promotion worked at companies that promoted 81-90% of their employees internally (91.18% were working towards a promotion), followed by 61-70% (78.48% working towards a promotion), and 71-80% (74.71% working towards a promotion. Those at companies who promote 91-100% of their employees internally were in 5th place, after those who promote 31-40% internally.

At companies who exclusively promote internally, fewer employees are working towards a promotion. Why is this? It’s possible that, with no competition from outside applicants and a clear path upward, employees feel less motivated to go above and beyond in their roles to work towards that next step.

They were still the happiest, however: these agents may not have been working towards a promotion as often, but they had the highest job satisfaction, pay satisfaction, and perception of manager and peer respect across the board. Basically, they’re happy where they are.

Figure 6: Promotion-Seeking by Rate of Internal Promotions

We also asked respondents if they took on job duties in addition to making and receiving phone calls. The options given were as follows:

  • Supervise other agents’ calls
  • Lead training sessions with other agents
  • Pilot new initiatives or technologies
  • Encourage employee engagement
  • Onboard new agents
  • Walk the floor
  • Assist in the development of new processes

The additional responsibilities that led to the highest job satisfaction was supervising other agents’ calls (4.02/5 job satisfaction rating on average) and leading training sessions (3.99/5 job satisfaction rating on average). Tenured agents who reported doing none of the additional duties above had the lowest reported job satisfaction average at 3.52 out of 5.

Additional responsibilities are an effective way to invest in your employees, and managers should actively seek out new opportunities to further their tenured agents’ growth. When they do so, agents feel a sense of accomplishment, self-efficacy, and belongingness.

“People want acknowledgement, growth opportunities and to feel valued, trusted and empowered. Frontline workers in particular voice a desire to feel respected.”

Chris Howard, Gartner’s Chief of Research

Here’s how you can apply these findings:

  • Identify your star agents, the ones who may be candidates for an internal promotion down the line
  • Assess their interest in taking on more responsibility in the form of the activities outlined above
  • Assign different activities to the folks who would be the best fits for them. For example, consider having your social butterfly lead training for new employees and having your highly-focused, analytical minds develop and refine new processes
  • Use these additional responsibilities as a responsibility ramp to ease star agents into the roles that they want

Don’t Skimp on Benefits

Promotions are a fantastic way to keep tenured agents around for the long run, but in a survey of 4,510 office workers across the world, it was revealed that 70% of workers would pass up a promotion for the opportunity to work remotely. Key word: opportunity. Another 24% said that they would quit if they were forced to go to the office full-time.

In our survey, 46.7% of respondents worked in person, 26.41% worked remotely, and 26.89% worked a hybrid of the two. Those who were fully remote (did not have the opportunity to go in when they wanted to) were the least satisfied with their pay and day-to-day duties and reported the lowest respect from their managers and peers. They were also the least likely to view the contact center as a strong career, and the least likely to be working towards a promotion by far.

Figure 7: Satisfaction Metrics by Working Location

The trick isn’t to go fully in-person: hybrid workers were the happiest of the bunch. The majority of their satisfaction metrics mirrored those of in-person employees, with two notable exceptions:

  • 90.42% of hybrid employees felt that the contact center was a good career for them, compared to 84.83% of in-person employees.
  • 81.44% of hybrid employees were working towards a promotion, compared to 66.21% of in-person employees.

On paper, in-person and hybrid employees seem similarly satisfied, but hybrid employees see more longevity and growth for themselves within their current company.

Essentially, the best form of hybrid work is the type that leaves location preference up to each individual employee’s discretion. Gallup has shown that if employees are not granted their preferred working location, they experience lower engagement, lower wellbeing, higher intent to leave, and higher burnout.

“People are not going to return to work the way they have in the past. Flexibility is the new norm and expectation from employees — we’re going to see this trend continue in the months ahead.”

Kristin Kelley, CMO at CareerBuilder

But the ability to work from home is not the only benefit that matters to employees — and it isn’t always a feasible offering for employers. We found that hourly, part-time workers were the least satisfied with their jobs while salaried workers experienced better satisfaction metrics and viewed the contact center as a stronger career for them.

82.45% of our respondents also received additional pay in the form of performance bonuses, sales commissions, gain or profit sharing, overtime pay, or holiday bonuses. The most common form of additional pay was overtime pay (53.14%) followed by performance bonuses (42.35%).

Figure 8: Additional Pay at the Contact Center

Figure 9: Count of Additional Pay Instances at the Contact Center

The variable pay that moved the needle the most was gain or profit sharing, followed by performance bonuses, but those who received any kind of additional pay had higher job satisfaction, pay satisfaction, respect perception, belief in the contact center as a strong career, and promotion-seeking behavior as a group. For example, 72.45% of those who received additional pay reported working towards a promotion, compared to only 44.95% of those who did not.

Figure 10: Satisfaction Metrics for Additional Pay vs. No Additional Pay

Here’s how you can apply these findings:

  • Assess the current state of your benefits: Do you give employees the ability to work from home if they choose? Do you offer variable compensation?
  • Pilot a hybrid work program and audit the results. Does productivity increase when agents are allowed to work from home? Does attrition decrease? How does self-reported job satisfaction fare?
  • Pilot a form of variable compensation and audit the results. Does productivity increase when agents receive higher sales commissions or other performance bonuses? Do the gains justify the bonus structure?
  • Discover which work location and additional pay programs work best for you and your organization, and apply them consistently to achieve the effects above.

Mentorship Has Major Influence

We know from our onboarding report that mentorship has an immense impact on employee retention and satisfaction. In fact, 9 out of 10 employees who have a mentor at work are satisfied with their jobs. The importance of mentorship extends far beyond the onboarding period to agents who have been with your contact center for years — the importance of trusted peers and positive role models doesn’t wane with time.

In our survey, we found that 62.96% of tenured agents had a mentor at work. This person was most often their direct manager (42.26%) followed by an agent in a more senior position than them (23.10%). On average, satisfaction metrics were higher for those who had a mentor versus those who did not.

“A good mentor can be a bridge between individual and organizational needs, between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards… One of the most impressive things about an effective mentoring program is how far the positive ripple effects reach.”

Naz Beheshti, CEO of Prananaz Corporate Wellness Solutions

Figure 11: Satisfaction Metrics With vs. Without Mentorship

But while, as a group, those with mentors fared better, inter-group differences did arise. For example, the highest pay satisfaction was achieved when a tenured agent’s mentor was their direct manager, while the highest job satisfaction was achieved when the mentor was an agent in the same position as them.

Interestingly, while tenured agents who had a mentor that was an agent in the same position as them seemed happier, they were also the least likely to work towards a promotion (66.67%). It is possible that the more trusted peers an agent has in their same position, the more satisfied they will be in their current role, and the least likely they will be to want to move — even if that move is upwards.

Job satisfaction also took a dip when a tenured agent’s mentor was a director or supervisor (3.71/5), and if their mentor was an executive, they were the least likely to see the contact center as a strong career choice for themselves (80%).

Figure 12: Satisfaction Metrics by Mentor

Another facet of mentorship that we looked at was coaching type and frequency. We asked respondents how often in the past 3 months they received the following types of coaching:

  • 1-on-1 coaching
  • Group training
  • Online training
  • Coaching in response to an event that occurred on a call
  • Informal suggestions from a peer.

We found that the sweet spot to optimize for job satisfaction is 1-2 one-on-one coaching sessions per month with a manager (and in previous research, we found that manager involvement in training leads to the highest knowledge retention outcomes).

When agents reported receiving 5+ pieces of informal feedback from a peer within a three-month period, they weren’t annoyed by the advice — on the contrary, they reported the highest levels of peer respect as a group at 4.29/5. If agents received 0 pieces of feedback from their peers, their peer respect was reported as 3.95/5.

The takeaway here is that agents appreciate coaching, training, and feedback — and for the most part, more is better. Involve them in your processes and thinking to increase their overall buy-in. Those who received zero forms of coaching had the worst satisfaction metrics across the board.

Figure 13: Satisfaction Metrics For Coaching vs. No Coaching
Note: Frequency was measured over a three-month period

Here’s how you can apply these findings:

  • Assess the current state: how do your team’s current activities stack up compared to the coaching activity frequencies in the chart above?
  • Find the optimal zones for each form of coaching above and incorporate these activities as part of your managers or supervisor’s quarterly goals so they can get the most out of their agents.
  • Put in place a mentorship program, encouraging managers and senior agents to link up with new and tenured agents alike within a designated mentorship program structure.

Grow Careers With Guidance Software

The future of the contact center is tech-enabled and AI-driven. Today, 60.87% of the respondents in our survey said their contact center uses some form of software that provides them with suggestions while they’re on a call. In 2022, conversational AI was a $2 billion industry — and by 2026, it will represent $80 billion in savings for contact centers.

“The kinds of technology that are coming into the contact center are going to change things. Having the availability of artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, look how that’s changed things already. The fact that I can say something and have it understood by a system somewhere, as opposed to just a person, the idea of having things translated in real-time from one language to another, it’s phenomenal. [If you] provide people with the right knowledge… you’re going to be ahead of the game.”

– Roy Atkinson, CEO of Clifton Butterfield

Conversational AI and guidance software is not just for new agents, however. We asked respondents how much this software helped them during their onboarding process and the average score was a 4.06 out of 5. We also asked them how much this software helps them now, and the score was nearly identical at 4.02 out of 5.

While guidance software can be particularly helpful to help new agents get their footing during onboarding, it doesn’t lose value for tenured agents. It seems as though the helpfulness of guidance software experiences a dip in the 9-12 year range, but then goes up again and peaks at the 14 year mark at a 4.67 out of 5 in helpfulness.

Figure 14: Helpfulness of Guidance Software by Tenure

Some agents even found the guidance software more helpful now than it was during their onboarding. This effect was most apparent for agents who had been in their job for 15+ years. From our agent report, we know that agents at the 0-4 year mark attribute most of their mistakes to forgetting, which is addressed by guidance software. At the 5+ year mark, agents start making mistakes because of boredom more often. Guidance software keeps them alert and engaged to avoid these mistakes.

Figure 15: Guidance Software Helpfulness During Onboarding vs. Now

Regardless of tenure, tenured agents who used guidance software on calls had higher job satisfaction, pay satisfaction, and perceptions of manager and peer respect as a group. They also found the contact center a better place to work overall and were more likely to work towards a promotion. Here’s the breakdown of results for those who used guidance software:

  • 57% more likely to be working towards a promotion
  • 13% more likely to view the contact center as a great place to work
  • 12% higher job satisfaction
  • 10% higher pay satisfaction
  • 4% higher perception of manager respect
  • 3% higher perception of peer respect

Here’s how you can apply these findings:

  • If you don’t yet use guidance software to help present agents with the right things to say on a call, familiarize yourself with what guidance software entails and why it is important.
  • Research your options. Look at websites like G2, Trustpilot, Capterra, and others to assess the competition.
  • Implement a new solution and gauge how your agents feel. Are they happier in their jobs overall? Does this lead to higher attrition, faster onboarding, and more effective calls?


Working in a contact center isn’t easy — it never has been, and it certainly isn’t now: difficult calls have increased by 50% in the last few years. This puts 74% of agents at risk of burnout, but it doesn’t mean your attrition rate is doomed. We surveyed 600+ agents who had been in their job for 2 years or more, and the fact is, many of them really enjoy their day-to-day.

The agents who do best in the contact center are those that consider themselves social, who enjoy phone calls and savor a chance to practice their people skills. Agents also thought of the contact center as a good career choice because of the opportunity for advancement within their organization and the high rate of internal promotions. Add on the availability of benefits, the high rates of mentorship, and the sidekick of guidance technology, and the tenured agent is positioned to have a long, happy career in your contact center.


We surveyed 621 agents for this report. The tenure range for those agents was 2 years to 15+ years.

FIgure 16: Breakdown of Respondent Tenure

Years in Role
% of total

Figure 17: Breakdown of Respondent Tenure

The largest represented age group was 25-34 at 29.26%, followed by 35-44 (29.10%), 45-54 (18.17%), 18-24 (12.22%), and 55+ (11.09%). Respondents were 66.02% female and 33.98% male.

The most represented use case was customer service (56.36%) followed by sales (16.42%) with nearly 20 industries represented. The most represented industry was retail (14.33%) followed by healthcare (11.3%) and financial services (9.5%)

Figure 18: Industry Representation in Survey

% of total
Financial Services
Government & Non-Profit
Home Improvement
Professional Services
Real Estate
Travel & Hospitality

Figure 19: Industry Representation in Survey

Respondents worked in contact centers with less than twenty agents (21.58%) to over 10,000 agents (2.74%). The most represented contact center size was 21-100 at 28.99%.

In terms of pay, 83.9% of respondents were hourly and 16.1% were salaried. Within the hourly cohort, 66.5% were full-time and 17.4% were part-time.


This research was conducted in collaboration with third-party research firm Centiment in November 2022. Survey participants were given a screening question to determine whether or not they were an agent (“Is your primary job to send or receive calls?”) and a screening question to determine their level of tenure. Agents who had been at their job for fewer than two years were eliminated from the survey.

Agents were then given 26 questions about their career direction perspectives which included pay satisfaction, job satisfaction, manager respect, promotion-seeking behavior, coaching cadence, and other questions. They were then asked to self-report on 7 demographic questions. The survey included an attention check at the midpoint to ensure that respondents were fully attending to the content of the survey.

The sample population spanned a wide range of executive experience levels, industries, departments, age groups, and other demographic parameters.

All statistical analysis was performed using one-way ANOVA and Kruskal-Wallis tests, and verified with Tukey’s Honestly-Significant Difference and Dunn’s post-hoc tests.


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