The Three Dimensions of Agent Experience

Contact centers, we have a problem.

And we’ve had it for a while. Contact center managers are spending time and money on CSAT-related initiatives, yet they’re consistently underwhelmed with the impact. What’s going on?

Think about this: In the last 20 years, CSAT has never exceeded the mid-70 percent range.

Despite all the slogans and customer experience initiatives, your customers still don’t feel heard. And they certainly don’t feel understood.

Something else to consider: agent turnover rates. A rate of 45% turnover is simply unacceptable—especially when you consider how disruptive (and costly) it is to replace experienced agents with new agents.

A poor agent experience is creating a 45 percent turnover rate

Not only that, but seeing their teammates leave at such rates is bad for the agents who stick around, as job security is not something to be taken lightly.

The effect is beyond frustrating. It seems crazy, right? Companies are spending money to improve their customer experience, but they’re not seeing the expected results. Not only are customers not benefiting from these pushes, but agents are turning over at an unacceptable rate.

The continued, pervasive turnover is partially due to agents bearing the burden of delivering better service (without being appropriately taken care of in return). And when agents turn over, new agents have to be onboarded and brought up to speed…which ultimately costs companies a lot of money.

Clearly, this decades-old problem requires a fresh approach.

The latest competitive battlefield has been all about customer experience, but customer experience is actually a symptom, not a problem.

It’s time to focus on agent experience. Happier agents provide better service, meaning taking care of your frontline people provides double benefits.

Better agent experience = better customer experience.

So, what is Agent Experience?

Much like customer experience, agent experience can refer to all sorts of things, depending on the organization/context. Generally speaking, though, it’s about the holistic well-being of the agents your customers count on.

When we talk about agent experience, especially in the contact center industry, we’re talking about a three-dimensional model, comprised of three specific E’s:

  • Efficiency, or how easily the agent can solve customer issues (related to agent timeliness, resourcefulness, and focus).
  • Effectiveness, or the quality of the agent’s results (related to agent’s customer approach in terms of soft skills, competence, and reliability).
  • Empowerment—how the agent feels, as a human, when performing their duties (related to agent’s perceived value, ongoing development, and fit within the team). 

While captured by different data points, these three dimensions work together to paint a picture of the whole agent’s well-being.

It’s more than numbers, and more than theory. Take care of your agents, and many things will fall into place.

When managers/supervisors choose to focus on only one of the three E’s (purely gauging performance by efficiency metrics or CSAT scores, for example), they do a disservice to the agent by sending the wrong message—that an agent is only valuable in terms of his/her results.

Similarly, focusing too fully on being a “customer first” brand (focusing on agents’ effectiveness) can leave agents feeling like the organization’s not on their side, indicating that transactional customer service is more important than your agents’ present and continued well-being.

Ultimately, if you want better customer experience through better agent experience, all three dimensions must be accounted for, or else it’s not really agent experience. Remember, agents are three-dimensional human beings, and not mere resources.