As contact center technology undergoes a transformation at many organizations, so should the agent experience.
The C-suite is focused more than ever on reducing agent turnover rates and improving customer experience (CX) ratings. As 37.2% of organizations have hired chief customer officers (a relatively new executive position responsible for all customer-facing activities and strategies), they have brought to the forefront CX issues of concern—among them, turnover rates. As a result, CX leaders are revamping the agent experience with better compensation plans, compelling career paths, and better technology capabilities.
The average annual turnover rate for contact center agents is 21.1%, which is better than it was two years ago (38%), but still too high for maximum efficiency. In fact, our research shows that when companies can keep agent turnover to less than 15%, they see a 26% improvement in customer ratings.
Steps to Transform Agent Experience
In order to reduce turnover rates and, in turn, improve CX, organizations have developed comprehensive strategies focused on the agent experience. The strategies typically include the following:
1. INCREASE COMPENSATION
More than half of companies are hiring more skilled agents, and with that comes increases in compensation. These increases are not simply cost-of-living raises; they’re substantial. For example, companies in our research success group (those that have the highest measured success rates for revenue, cost, and customer rating changes) are increasing agent compensation by 28.4%.
By investing more into existing employees, they reduce the costs associated with hiring and training vast numbers of agents per month. What’s more, the supervisors can spend more time actually coaching their agents.
2. PROVIDE CAREER PATH
Contact center agents are incredibly valuable employees, given they know about products, services, and customers. Yet, so many companies see them as revolving-door employees. We are starting to see companies develop promotion paths for them to move into marketing, product development, CX analytics, or contact center supervisory roles. This keeps them at the company and bolsters their loyalty, leveraging their skills learned in the contact centers for other areas of the company.
3. IMPROVE AGENT TECHNOLOGIES
Agent applications help them provide a better experience for customers, while also delivering important analytics data on their own performance. Chief customer officers have been laser-focused on analytics. By gathering data on both agent performance and customer satisfaction, leaders can make decisions based on data to ensure changes actually result in improvements.
In addition to agent analytics, the agent desktop should be filled with capabilities that are integrated into a unified, easy-to-navigate desktop. Among the items on the successful agent checklist:
• A unified desktop to consolidate apps and present the most relevant information needed at any given time.
• Contextual data to provide agents with relative information to solve a customer’s problems or make a recommendation.
• AI-based virtual assistants to triage customer inquiries (and sometimes solve them without live-agent involvement) or to provide recommendations based on real-time news or data that might impact the customer conversation.
• Natural Language Processing to analyze what customers are saying and how to most efficiently and effectively respond.
• Integration with CRM, UC, and analytics applications to expand the reach of the agent to additional employees, customer data, and performance data.
By focusing on the agent experience and the technologies that can help them excel, companies will see higher CX ratings, better first-call response, reduction in call-backs, lower agent turnover, and better revenue metrics.