A Cultural (and Technological) Revolution in the Contact Center
Together with ContactBabel, we recently conducted a survey of over 100 UK contact center decision makers. Encouragingly, we found that 71% of leaders believe their agent morale to be “good” or “very good”. A similar, albeit slightly lower, figure of 64% believe that their agents provide “good” or “very good” customer service. It seems like that old phrase “happy agents make happy customers” might just be true.
Factors affecting morale
A positive morale figure of 71% isn’t bad at all, but how can contact centers go about increasing agent morale? We asked our respondents for their top three factors, and here are the results:
As you can see, salary, agent empowerment, and technology all tied in first place, with each appearing in 38% of responses. However, of these, salary was most often listed first – in 21% of responses.
Factors affecting performance
Interestingly, however, the next question in our survey asked contact center leaders how agent performance could be improved – and here higher pay ranked low in the results.
Agent empowerment and technology solutions, on the other hand, again ranked highly. In fact, 19% of respondents put agent empowerment as their top factor for increasing agent performance – a higher result than any other.
The no. 1 factor affecting customer satisfaction
Moving from agents to customers now, what makes good customer service? Another question in our survey found that 69% of respondents consider first contact resolution to be the factor their customers value most highly.
It’s an old metric, but even in our modern multi-channel world, first contact resolution still matters. Nowadays, you just have to bear in mind that that first contact might not be by voice.
Of course, first contact resolution matters to your agents as well as your customers. Why? Because when your agents can’t help your customers, morale falls.
It’s clear that there’s a connectedness here. Improving customer satisfaction; improving agent morale and performance; reducing staff attrition and callback levels and therefore reducing costs – they’re all connected. And they can all be addressed by focusing on two things.
Empower your agents and give them the technology that they need to do their job. Tactically, these are the best things to focus on when trying to improve your contact center operation.
Empowerment through technology
The survey confirms everything that we’ve learned here at Inisoft during our many years of developing contact center solutions. Our learnings, and feedback from many agents, have culminated in our latest product: Syntelate XA. XA stands for Expert Agent – because agent empowerment is at the heart of our product.
Our unified agent desktop lets agents handle voice, email, SMS, web chat, and social media all from the same simple interface. Syntelate XA automatically retrieves the customer’s record at the start of each interaction by matching on phone number, email address, or social media username.
With scripting to guide your agents through complex interactions, and with full integration with customer relationship management and self-service solutions, Syntelate XA gives your agents the power and the confidence to help your customers to the best of their ability.
Getting the culture right
Syntelate XA provides the right technology for contact centers, and it also provides an excellent platform for agent empowerment. Empowering agents isn’t something that can be done by a tool alone, though.
To truly empower their agents, contact centers need to embed the right culture. A contact center has to respect its agents and want to empower them.
It’s for this reason that our parent company Kura, a leading contact center outsourcer, is committed to what they describe as “Crossing the Bridge”. This is a shift in mindset away from focusing on “things and stuff” to “people and their behaviour.”
The right culture and the right technology can bring about true agent empowerment, together with all the benefits that this brings for your agents, your customers, and your costs.
Of course, all of these findings are based on decision makers’ views of the industry. Later this year we’ll be conducting another survey with similar questions – but this time we’ll be asking them of agents. I look forward to discovering how agents’ opinions compare with those of leaders.