With days jam-packed with frustrated customers, confined to a cubicle and often on a low pay scale, it is inevitable that poor agent experience leads to reduced motivation and even burnout. This article explores various ways of improving the call center agent experience, touching on topics such as training, onboarding, collaboration and hiring.
The latest research shows that small-sized call centers (less than 50 seats) have an annual turnover rate of 17%, medium-sized contact centers witness a 37% attrition rate and large-sized operations lose 44% of their reps per year. These numbers cause major headaches for contact center managers in terms of lower productivity, not to mention the costs of recruiting and training replacements. In fact, a study by Cornell puts the cost of replacing one agent at about 16% of their annual salary.
The fallout from poor agent experience
Aside from the costs involved, high agent turnover negatively impacts the contact center’s productivity and service quality, with demotivated agents inevitably providing less than stellar customer experience.
When agents are not performing at their best, contact centers see the impact on their KPIs, experiencing:
- Higher Average Handling Time (AHT),
- Lower First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate
- Disappointing customer satisfaction scores
- Higher churn
According to a recent survey of consumers who canceled contracts with companies in the previous 24 months, almost 40% cited poor customer service as the primary reason for cancellation. A large number of respondents specified a negative experience with the customer service representatives themselves as their reason for leaving. They indicated that the representatives weren’t knowledgeable enough, were rude or had a negative approach (32%).
This data suggests that companies should find ways to empower agents with more knowledge and tools, including developing a collaborative culture in the contact center as well as enhancing agents’ capabilities with broader responsibilities.
One proven method is driving agent engagement with Visual Assistance technology.
Visually engaging the call center agent
Visual Assistance allows an agent to see a customer’s issue via their smartphone camera or by sharing their smartphone screen. It empowers reps, letting them see what the customer sees, boosting productivity and reducing labor intensity. By having eyes on the customer’s environment – and their issue – the agent can instantly see the nature of the problem, enabling them to understand the root cause faster, without trudging through a mind-numbing list of diagnostic questions.
Agents are more engaged with their customers and more invested in going the extra mile to help them find solutions. This results in lower agent effort and higher overall satisfaction for both the agent and the customer. In fact, TechSee, a global leader in visual customer assistance powered by AI and Augmented Reality, reports that 98% agents using visual assistance say that the technology helps them increase customer satisfaction, and 87% of agents indicate that it helps them resolve issues more easily.
Improved training in call centers
When onboarding new agents, the training process is streamlined with a visual knowledge base of issues and their solutions. The technology widens agents’ skill sets and aids their professional development, as they can now handle a far wider range of complex issues. Empowering agents encourages them to work to improve, apply discretionary effort to benefit the company, and raises their sense of self-worth.
As agents discover new hacks and shortcuts, they are encouraged to contribute directly to the company’s visual knowledge base, improving best practices, and are usually recognized and rewarded accordingly. Agents who clearly see how their individual contributions affect the bigger picture are imbued with a sense of pride that is evident in every one of their customer interactions.
Enhanced collaboration across customer service teams
Visual Assistance also facilitates enhanced collaboration between contact center agents and field service teams. While the technology is proven to improve First Contact Resolution rates by an average of 22% across industries and to slash technician dispatch rates by 19%, when truck rolls are required, reps can prepare field technicians with images of the issue and location, ensuring optimal onsite efficiency.
Empowers agent to solve additional issues
Empowering agents with visual tools also allows them to go above and beyond when it comes to providing excellent service. They can often spot issues that are outside the scope of the initial contact, helping them achieve Next Issue Avoidance. For example, when responding to a customer inquiry about configuring a smart device, the agent may notice that the hardware is not placed in the ideal location and suggest that they relocate it for optimal performance.
Improving the Call Center Agent Experience
Creating a better contact center agent experience isn’t only the key to higher productivity and lower attrition – it’s the best way to improve the overall customer experience. A core dimension of a successful contact center is to enhance agent engagement, inspiring reps to move mountains for the customer, and Visual Assistance has emerged as one of the most effective instruments in the agent’s toolbox.