Looking Ahead: Five Contact Center Trends to Know and Use in 2019 (Part 4)

By Michelle Burrows | January 24, 2019
Contact center agents affect bottom line

It will come as no surprise to anyone managing contact center agents—or anyone who has ever interacted with one to resolve an issue— that they are the linchpins in a positive customer experience. Self-service and artificial intelligence advances aside, the rising impact of agents on a contact center’s bottom line remains a significant industry trend in 2019.  For that reason, we highlighted rising agent influence in our e-book, Contact Center Trends You Need to Know 2019

Let’s dig in to why and how to keep your agents happy, engaged and delivering value this year and far beyond.

Attrition Erodes

When your agents aren’t happy, customer experience suffers. When good agents leave, you lose positive, experienced and trained brand representatives and must reinvest significant time and money to fill the gap. Further, until you replace lost agents, you’re not equipped to handle call volume. That’s why contact center leaders interviewed for Contact Center Challenges and Priorities for 2017, published by Contact Center Pipeline, cite agent turnover as their top challenge.

Engaged Agents Deliver Tremendous Value

Conversely, the value of happy agents is positively quantifiable. When highly engaged, these loyal employees and brand ambassadors have a very direct effect on customer satisfaction and, ultimately, revenue. That’s because engaged employees—supported by strong processes and workflow—can focus on and successfully deliver exceptional and winning customer experiences.

Unfortunately, though, 87 percent of employees worldwide are disengaged, according to Gallup. Gallup researchers say, “These employees are indifferent and neither like nor dislike their job.  They represent a risk, and that risk can tilt either way—good or bad.” To ensure the pendulum clearly swings in the positive direction, organizations must commit to engaging their agents more effectively.

Here are two proven ways to do that.

Equip agents to do their jobs well

Agents will find a way to get their jobs done, regardless of whether you properly equip them.  And while enterprising creativity could be interpreted as a sign of engagement, renegade moves to use their own tools or invent processes risks a breakdown in the contact center and the customer experience. That’s definitely not net good news.

To ensure the consistent, integrated and seamless interactions across channels that deliver positive customer experiences, give agents intuitive tools that empower them while enabling supervisors to track interactions and guide training. Specifically, quality management tools help monitor and evaluate agents’ customer interactions and identify areas that need improvement and more training. Clearly communicating expectations and providing the help they need to develop both hard and soft skills is a proven way to keep employees engaged and performing at the highest levels.

Track the right metrics

Service levels are one piece of measurement, but they aren’t the only metric worth tracking.  Carefully consider all metrics that will affect your contact center’s efficiency, customer experience and agent productivity.

Too many metrics can frustrate agents, and they’ll lose focus on what’s most important.  Expectations become muddied. And the wrong metrics can encourage the wrong behavior. For example, measuring agents exclusively on the number of calls handled or length of call can lead to poor customer experiences.

Instead, start with metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), which reflect customer experience and impact revenue. Then, based on your business, choose only three to five metrics to measure progress and motivate your employees.

As agents have an increasingly direct revenue impact through customer experience, finding the right tools to keep them positively engaged is critical. In fact, your contact center’s—and organization’s—success depends on it.

To download the complete e-book, Contact Center Trends You Need to Know 2019, click here.  Ready to improve your customer experience now? Request a demo.

Michelle Burrows is Chief Marketing Officer at Serenova, where she leads the company’s global marketing strategy, brand development, communications and demand generation.  Prior to joining Serenova, Michelle was Vice President of Marketing and Analytics at Comcast Business, leading the customer loyalty contact center.  Prior to Comcast, she served as Vice President of Demand Marketing for inContact (NICE inContact) and held key leadership positions at Rally Software (CA Technologies), Verint Systems and Genesys Conferencing (West Corporation).