The War Of Attrition – Keeping Your Star Agents Happy

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If you could boil down just about every company’s primary objective (or what should be their primary objective), it would go something like this: Employ the best business strategies to retain existing customers, acquire new customers, and grow the business. Ironically, one of the surest ways to achieve this simple objective is not only within every business executive’s reach — it’s practically right under their noses. And … they’re missing it.

The number one key to keeping your customers happy is keeping your contact center employees happy.

These are the employees, after all, who most often engage with your customers. And, happy and engaged employees create happy and satisfied customers, who in turn create the best kind of advertising (i.e., free) possible for your company. Research from consulting firm ISM Inc. corroborates these statements, finding that 90% of consumers confirmed that an agent’s perceived happiness directly affects their overall customer experience. Additionally, 66% of respondents said that their experience with an agent significantly affected their impression of the overall brand.

Richard Snow of Ventana Research really drives this point home. In research done in 2013, he found that only 35% of surveyed contact center agents were satisfied with their jobs. The research went on to find a direct correlation between agent satisfaction and meeting call handling goals. Bottom line – a happy and productive agent equals a happy and satisfied customer.

If you want to know how effectively your company is achieving its prime objective, start with your contact center and consider the following tips to create a better work environment.

Walk A Mile In Your Agents’ Shoes
As a business executive, you need to have a pulse on how your contact center is working. Chances are good that contact center managers won’t treat you the same way they would treat a contact center agent, but you can at least get a good idea of the tools your agents have available to them to perform their job duties. Spend a few hours in the contact center and personally take a few calls so you can make some informed observations. Can you hear callers clearly? Are desks, chairs, computers, lighting, room temperature, and ambient sounds set up in a way that’s comfortable and conducive to listening to and helping customers? Would you personally want to work in this kind of environment?

Invest In The Proper Contact Center Technologies
How about the technology? Do your agents have good tools (and proper training) to address customers’ needs and complaints? A study conducted by Aberdeen Group found that on average an agent uses five different screens during a customer interaction. Equally disturbing is the fact that 26% of agents’ time is spent looking for relevant data across these different systems, requiring customers to wait on hold and delaying the resolution time.

Just because customers are demanding to be able to reach your company across a myriad of channels doesn’t mean that you need a separate software application for each contact channel. Multichannel agent toolsets now exist that enable agents to receive and respond to customer phone calls, emails, chat, SMS, Twitter, Facebook (and other social media channels) questions — all from a single screen. And the best toolsets allow collaboration with back office experts to get more complex customer queries answered in real-time, without having to call them back. ISM’s research found that agents reported being 50% more productive if they had an integrated, multichannel customer engagement solution available on their desktops.

Let’s face it, your contact center agents know your customers much better than your business managers and executives do. Creating a better contact center environment that makes the task of dealing with customer problems and complaints a little easier — as well as making it easier on your end customers to get the resolutions they’re looking for — can go a long way in curbing low morale and high turnover, both of which have a direct negative impact on your company’s bottom line.

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