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Revealed: The top five factors harming contact centre agent experience

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Tackling the top challenges facing contact centre agents today can boost job satisfaction, customer service performance and reduce a costly attrition problem.

17th Mar 2023
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The success of any business is closely tied to the satisfaction of its customers. And who is responsible for delivering that satisfaction? Customer contact agents.

The shift to hybrid and remote work environments has presented many new challenges for contact centre leaders looking to ensure their agents stay engaged, motivated and connected.

But here's the good news: tackling the top challenges facing call centre agents today can boost job satisfaction and customer service performance and reduce a costly attrition problem. The average customer contact organisation will lose nearly $600,000 annually due to agent attrition – that’s more than double the cost compared to organisations with strong agent retention strategies.

Recent studies show that satisfied agents are more likely to provide positive customer service experiences, with 59% overperforming on CSAT. Satisfied agents are also 2.5 times more likely to stay in their roles, driving retention rates and ultimately improving the bottom line.

The average customer contact organisation will lose nearly $600,000 annually due to agent attrition.

So, what are these challenges, exactly? Here are the top five issues facing customer contact leaders when improving agent experience and providing actionable strategies to help overcome them.

From managing remote work styles to fostering a sense of connection and community among the team, explore the key factors that can make or break agent performance and job satisfaction.

1. Agent engagement and retention is a growing challenge

42% of customer contact agents are unsatisfied with their jobs. Even more concerning than almost half of the industry being unhappy in their roles is that more than half – 65% to be exact – of customer service agents anticipate leaving their role in the next two years.

2. Agents leave for three reasons...

There are three main reasons why agents leave - poor managers, lack of flexibility and lack of career development

Managers are a critical component in optimising agent experience and creating a sense of job satisfaction. It is up to leaders to examine what creates a successful manager-direct report dynamic, especially in flexible work environments.

Agents who are satisfied with their managers are 2.3 times more likely to be satisfied with their role and experience overall. Those satisfied with flexibility are 2.1 times more likely, and those happy with career development are 1.9 times more likely to be satisfied in their role.

3. Agents want flexibility that works – and works for them

Currently, agents overwhelmingly want flexibility, and are seeking flexibility in the following four areas:

  1. Where agents work (in-office or at home)
  2. The days agents work
  3. The hours agents work
  4. Work type

While flexible scheduling has been an asset to the customer agent industry for many years, the new ability to have a flexible workplace can be challenging for some companies.

Not embracing flexibility will likely deter agents from joining or staying in their positions. In fact, only 17% of agents prefer to work on-site every day.  Of the 44% who prefer some variation on hybrid working, working 2-3 days on-site is the most popular preference.

4. Flexibility feeds a manager agent trust gap

While agents seek increased flexibility, managers are challenged to gain trust in and from agents. Visibility into individual agent working patterns is critical to establishing this trust. There are certain attributes and competencies that make a manager better at gaining this visibility and establishing trust across a remote or flexible team.

5. On-site is not a panacea for career development

Many contact centre leaders assume that on-site environments better support agent development because of in-person visibility. But this isn’t necessarily true.

Most agents (71%) feel equally or more engaged when working from home, and additionally, fully on-site agents have the lowest satisfaction with career development attributes.

It is crystal clear that equipping managers to lead remote teams, structuring flexibility effectively and revamping career development offers are the critical solutions to customer contact challenges in today’s flexible world.

These pillars enhance the agent experience and boost retention rates. With reduced staff turnover, contact centres can save costs and provide exceptional customer service by having satisfied and skilled agents committed to their roles.

It's high time customer contact leaders invest in agent experience to achieve business success. Leaders must prioritise creating a flexible work environment that empowers their workforce. For more insights and solutions to these pressing issues, visit https://www.cmpresearch.com.

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By Paul Harris
20th Mar 2023 12:52

I would say there is another, far more significant reason agents are leaving in droves today - they are not prepared or resilient enough to deal with the frustration and anger a lot of customers visit upon them. This is overwhelmingly why people are leaving my business and why we’re finding it hard to recruit.

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