Contact center wait times have tripled due to high turnover, the ease of switching jobs remotely, and lonely customers, Bloomberg reported.
Even as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, but watchful for new variants, contact centers are still understaffed and agents are still overwhelmed.
A Pandora’s Box has opened on remote work, and so it seems that most contact centers will need to address and accommodate the challenges of agents working from home well into the future.
The pressure is on to improve the customer experience (CX). The difficult economy means that every customer is invaluable. But keeping contact center professionals happy is required in order to provide the level of service that keeps customers from switching to a competitor.
How We Got Here
At the height of the pandemic, with the Great Resignation, customer service agents were met with isolated and emotional customers who had increased levels of need. But agents had no additional backup to support them. In fact, most contact centers were cutting resources. All this set turnover rates ablaze and pay skyrocketing.
Customer service work is hard. As a result, it’s always had high turnover. A recent report found that 1 in 3 contact center agents consider leaving within a year — and 50% plan to leave within 2–3 years.
But working remotely made it easier for contact center agents to change jobs. It sent contact center turnover rates during the pandemic up to 80%, and in extreme cases to as much as 300%, Jeff Chistofis, who runs Kelly Services’ contact center, told Bloomberg.
Contact centers, as a result, have been hit with massive staff shortages and frustrated customers, on top of the existing challenges of providing an excellent CX. Add in the challenges of remotely mastering complex technology and you’ve got yourself the challenge of a lifetime.
The balance of powers in contact centers has reached a tipping point. Agents now have the power to demand the higher pay they’ve been enjoying as well as the flexibility of working remotely.
With job hopping showing no signs of slowing down, it’s up to contact center management to provide agents with the ideal conditions and tools necessary to do their jobs well and deliver a truly excellent CX – and job satisfaction.
Agents Under Pressure
Today’s contact center agents, especially those who work in large business process outsourcers (BPOs), represent multiple companies at any given moment.
The same challenges exist for agents who work for companies with multiple business units. Support agents for large banks must answer questions and find solutions for customers in personal banking, mortgages, small business accounts, and the list goes on.
Being able to quickly navigate different screens and different systems is imperative. Agents must be able to locate records in different systems efficiently and accurately in order to properly assist customers.
Some agents are even “scored” by the length of their calls, getting dinged for staying on the line with customers too long. This puts tremendous pressure on agents with varying levels of digital dexterity to master software systems while most are working alone in their homes.
How DAPs Can Help
Agents must effectively and efficiently navigate endless accounts across complex contact center systems whether they are working in a home or office setting.
And having on-screen guidance to help agents navigate these software systems is as much about keeping customers happy as it is keeping contact center employees happy.
Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) do just that. They exist as glass layers above software and applications to provide customized guidance, while providing data insights that can be leveraged to continuously improve the user experience by deploying on-screen just-in-time tips and automation.
DAPs help agents be more efficient, and free them from basic repetitive tasks, while reducing error and confusion, which makes them happier and better at their jobs.
DAPs work across applications to provide a holistic concierge-like experience. They could even be in the form of chatbots armed with automation, so that customers can access self-serve support or in the form of an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered assistant for contact center agents.
Instead of having to remember where exactly a certain file lives, an agent could simply ask the smart chatbot to take them exactly where they need to be or the bot can even perform basic tasks on behalf of the agent.
The bot, driven by a DAP, can hand the agent the exact information they need, exactly when they need it, on a beautiful digital platter.
The benefits work on both sides of the contact center funnel:
- First by reducing the amount of support calls, emails, chats, or tickets that are being sent to contact centers by empowering customers to self-serve basic help.
- Secondly, DAPs help agents be more efficient, and free them from basic repetitive tasks, while reducing error and confusion, which makes them happier and better at their jobs. There is no longer a need to navigate sophisticated enterprise management systems, fill in multi-step forms, or struggle through complex processes alone.
With high turnover rates, agents and management alike will enjoy the benefit of the smooth onboarding and in-the-moment training process that DAPs provide.
Instead of agents having to remember what they learned in a live-training session, they can access that information right on their screen whenever they need it. This also eliminates the need for experienced agents to take time away from their work to train new hires.
Today’s leading DAPs also provide data insights to anticipate end user confusion or error. If the data points to a particular form or function causing issues, a solution can be deployed right on-screen to preemptively resolve the problem and avoid the influx of help requests to the contact center.
In the midst of all this technology, it’s easy to lose the human touch in an interaction.
Contact center solutions are often a patchwork quilt of separate vendor solutions patched together (for chat, voice, email, bots, knowledge base articles, etc.). These force the agent to navigate several different apps to handle a single interaction, which causes delays, mistakes, and customer frustration.
And the newer the agent is, the worse the problem.
DAPs mitigate that problem by removing the need for an agent to have a Ph.D in your tech stack to do their job. When the tech burden is removed, the agent can just be a person talking to another person and provide a more human experience.
It all boils down to making agents’ lives easier and more efficient digitally so that they can be happy and productive in providing customers with a delightful experience.
DAPs can be a game-changing solution to accomplish both. At the end of the day, both employee happiness and customer satisfaction should top the list of contact center priorities.