Happy agents, as the saying goes, make happy customers. The Tempkin Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmark Study for example, found that organizations that deliver great customer experiences have one-and-a-half times as many engaged employees as under-engaged employees. But exactly how does being an engaged agent equate to better service?
In the 2nd annual Aspect Agent Experience Index survey, 64 percent of all agents surveyed said they were happy in their work. However, 75 percent of the self-professed ‘engaged’ agents were satisfied in their jobs, an 11-point difference. Engaged agents were also 61 percent more likely to want to handle complex questions/tasks than lower-engaged agents. So not only are engaged customer service agents more likely to happily answer difficult questions or enthusiastically tackle complex issues, there is a much greater chance that they will do so with a smile on their face – or at least a smile in their voice. But how do customer service agents become engaged?
While Aspect’s agent survey provides several insights that can help answer this question, they do not come without complication. The survey found that young millennial/GenZ agents (ages 18-24) are the least content of any demographic. They are the least likely to want to handle complex questions, most likely to want to leave the company where they currently work, and the only group whose job satisfaction declined from 2017. This is troubling because they will also be the largest contact center agent demographic in the next two to three years. That said, there are clear ways agents in all demographics reveal how customer service organizations can keep them and as a result, their customers happy.
In the 2017 Aspect survey, a competitive salary was the most important factor agents said they needed to make them engaged and happy. In this year’s survey, working in an environment they feel respected rose to the top of the list. 93 percent of agents said a respectful work environment is the most important factor to keep them engaged, an increase of 8 points from the prior year. It was also the first or second most important factor in every female demographic.
Eight in 10 agents said their skills would improve if they were asked to handle more complex questions/tasks if AI and self-service customer service reduced the number of easy questions they received in the course of a day. Plus, 68 percent of agents (and 73 percent of Young Millennial/GenZ agents) said the challenge would make them feel more satisfied/committed in their jobs. Which also means they would be less likely to want to leave.
84 percent of agents said that it’s important for them to have all the necessary customer data at their disposal in to provide personalized customer experiences. No one would disagree with this. However, only
a little more than a quarter of them (27%) said they currently have ALL the information they need to provide one, quickly and accurately, every time.
Self-service is not just for customers. Empowering agents with self-service capabilities to pick up shifts and manage schedules on their own not only delivers on improving their work/life balance – which 91 percent of them say is important to their engagement – but it also shows them the respect they say is vital to their work satisfaction. Two thirds of agents (65 percent) said they prefer self-service contact with management vs. speaking with them directly and nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) of Young Millennial/GenZ agents think that self-service contact with management is just as important as a good salary.
Agent engagement and retention play huge roles in the productivity and profitability of contact centers. The Aspect Agent Experience Index offers key insights into how customer service agents can energize and optimize their agents for maximum impact and optimal customer experience delivery.