As a contact center manager, you're always seeking to balance two separate factors: You want your agents to provide a superior customer experience, and you want them to perform as cost-effectively as possible. With these twin goals in mind, you probably monitor such metrics as first-call resolution and average call handling time. The fact is, however, that the most important basis for both customer satisfaction (CSAT) and agent performance is the general well-being of your contact center agents. A recent ICMI study shows:
1. A Human Connection Critical
Quite simply, a phone conversation between a customer and a contact center agent is a human interaction. Like any other human interaction, it is strongly influenced by the mood and well-being of its participants. While contact center managers may feel more at home with quantitative metrics, a 2015 research study by ICMI demonstrates that the human experience of the a phone call is the most important factor in customer satisfaction. Contact center agents who feel stressed and demoralized are simply not capable of delivering a high-level customer experience.
2. Positive Agent Morale is Key
The same ICMI survey found that a whopping 87% of contact center agents experience "a moderate to high level of stress during their workday." An environmental health study published by the National Institutes of Health notes the psychosocial risk factors associated with typical call center working conditions, while the Forrester Research blog points out that some contact centers have annual employee turnover as high as 100%. This Forrester analysis points out that "ongoing agent morale issues ... can impact customer satisfaction."
3. Technology + Confidence = Efficiency
If you shift your goal to enhancing your agents' well-being, can you also maintain efficiency? The answer to this is a resounding "Yes," due to the innovations offered by cloud-based contact center technology. Agents are able to pick up calls remotely via any device, allowing them the peace of mind that comes from successfully balancing work and family obligations. Meanwhile, supervisors can monitor and coach agents regardless of location, while the entire financial burden of maintaining a physical call center is eliminated from your bottom line. When agents are able to see the caller's account information, they feel more confident and they are more efficient because they don't have to put the customer on hold. Sophisticated IVR allows for appropriate directing of calls, making good use of agents' time.
When you treat your contact center agents as the most important elements in your organization, you will reduce churn and end up with stable high-performing teams. This goal is achievable: as the Forrester analysis points out, some contact centers manage a turnover rate lower than 5% per year. Through increased customer satisfaction and lowered employee costs, boosting contact center morale will result in significant financial savings for your company.