Why Contact Center Solutions Should Prioritize the Agent Experience
Think about your morning routine, and pick out a single task. What if it took transferring your morning cup of coffee to three different mugs before you could drink it? What if you had to switch between five notebooks for your daily journaling exercise – only writing a sentence in each? Now, think about what kind of mood you’d be in and what it would mean for the rest of your day.
If we had to put you somewhere between relaxing while listening to birds sing or being agitated and ready to gulp the full mug of coffee, we’d probably choose the latter.
For some contact center agents, clunky, ever-so-frustrating routines are a reality. Cumbersome contact center solutions bog agents down and create inefficiencies that can’t be tamed – even after you’ve gulped the full mug of coffee. And that’s exactly why agent experience should be at the center of your decision when you purchase contact center solutions.
Purchasing new tools for your contact center is by no means a one-party decision. Your contact center infrastructure has a significant impact on your customer experience, and in turn, your bottom line. Your executive team, managers, and IT teams will all need input when it comes to choosing the right tools, but it’s critical to keep your agents’ experience top-of-mind.
Here are four reasons to keep your number-one users in mind before you pass go.
1. A poor agent experience negatively impacts your key metrics.
Agents are the end users of the solutions you choose. They’ll undoubtedly spend the most time navigating and interacting with contact center solutions. What’s tricky, though, is that some solutions don’t always solve problems, they create more.
When your agents use 13 different programs to manage their workflows, when they have to simultaneously switch between email, live chat, desk phone, cell phone, AND hunt through the internal knowledge base to problem-solve for the customer, they’re actually just burning time, delaying customer resolutions, and even diminishing the cognitive and emotional processing in their brains.
First Contact Resolutions will decrease as agents switch from tool to tool, digging for the right customer information to help them close the case. Average Handle Time will rise as these same agents become over-stimulated and flustered from lack of downtime, and you won’t hit your key metrics.
You can nix some of this pain by choosing helpful tools that prioritize your agents. Think omni-channel and all-in-one contact center solutions built with the agent in mind. Then, they don’t have to toggle between multiple tabs and internal documents to solve the problem. Every piece of information and communication channel is available in the same platform, so they can focus on WHY customers reached out, not how.
2. Negative experiences affect agent confidence and job satisfaction.
The job of a contact center agent is tough and often thankless, so when your agents have to wrestle with clunky software and obsolete processes, they grow more frustrated and unhappy. Every call becomes a battle as they try to meet KPIs despite being equipped with tools that only slow them down.
Unattainable KPIs (and loads of stress because of it) diminishes agent confidence and breeds a negative work environment ripe for turnover – especially given that agents often leave their jobs due to lack of career growth, and agents who don’t meet key metrics likely won’t be considered for advancement when the time comes.
3. Customer experience plummets when agent satisfaction declines.
The reality is some contact center solutions might win on price when you’re looking at a neatly-typed RFP. But, solutions that don’t prioritize your agents come with hidden costs. Every minute spent sifting through menus and waiting for pages to load is a minute your customer is kept waiting. And, with every ticking minute your customers are left in the dark, your agents are frantically searching for answers. Frantic agents aren’t happy agents.
When you’re choosing contact center solutions, the tendency is to think about how that solution will impact your customers. This makes sense, of course, but there’s a missing piece in this puzzle. Your agents’ experience and mood directly impacts the customer experience, so putting your agents first will ultimately be in your customers’ best interests, too.
If agents are given solutions that are difficult to use, it negatively impacts the customer experience and costs you more in the long haul. Lag time, dropped calls, and limited channels all pile together to create an agent experience that makes it nearly impossible to tackle basic job duties, let alone create the unicorn of customer experiences that every company strives for. (Like Zappos, who sent an actual stuffed unicorn to a customer who didn’t have a top-notch experience.)
4. Be a coach, not just a manager.
Take back your time, and coach your agents. As a standard, managers only have about 7% of their time available for coaching agents each week, and you spend 53% of your time looking for interactions that need a little extra attention. Prioritize your agents by choosing solutions that help you coach. Use in-line training and microlearning exercises for in-the-moment feedback when interactions need to pack in a little more enthusiasm. Or reach out and say, “fantastic job!” when they’re knocking calls out of the park. Give your agents specific examples of the out-of-the-park moments to help them understand which experiences to repeat.
It’s simple. When you prioritize your agents, you’re prioritizing your time and your customers, too. That’s when all roads lead to a happier, more impactful organization. And when you can relax while listening to birds sing.