The raw and honest truth about what agents think about their jobs – Interview with Juanita Coley

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Today’s interview is with Juanita Coley, who is best known as the “Contact Center Whisperer” and is also the CEO and Founder of Solid Rock Consulting, a workforce management consulting firm. Juanita joins me today to talk about the inside track on what customer service agents like or don’t like about their jobs, the implications of those findings, what contact center leaders should be focusing on/doing to help improve their employees’ (agents) experience and why we should be talking about and leaning into the voice of the agent (VoA) amongst a bunch of other things.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The challenge with conversational analysis in the Nordics – Interview with Tue Martin Berg of Capturi – and is number 491 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders who are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Juanita:

  • When buying technology we should also be thinking about it from an agent experience perspective.
  • Shout out to the folks at Zoom as well as Steph Tryhane, Sheila McGee-Smith and Amy Roberge.
  • Juanita is a member of an agent Facebook group (that shall remain nameless because it’s Juanita’s secret weapon), where she is able to hear the raw and honest truth about what agents think about their jobs.
  • The group has more than 10 thousand agents as members.
  • Voice of the Agent isn’t really a thing, but it should be.
  • Agents are really pro in terms of the work that they’re trying to do, but they get frustrated about how they are helped, supported or enabled in trying to do that work.
  • The top two insights that came out of the group were that agents want schedule autonomy and also that they wanted better knowledge management tools to be able to access the information that they need to be able to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
  • Without an employee experience strategy, your CX strategy is trash.
  • What agents are saying about Gen AI: I think where there is a lack of education, then there’s always going to be fear. Because people fear what they don’t understand and what is unknown to them.
  • There are going to be new roles that come out of generative AI and moving more AI into the contact center space.
  • As you’re implementing AI, you should also be training on those technologies because you’re going to have to have AI operators who know how to use the tool.
  • You should be creating education paths along with the AI because that’s going to also create career pathing for agents, which is very similar to what happened with me in the contact center when I discovered workforce management.
  • When people get fearful about things, they start thinking about their family and their jobs and their livelihoods and everything else.
  • How agents are remunerated or rewarded definitely came up in the group, but it wasn’t in the top two concerns.
  • People, as a whole, want to be appreciated. They want to be valued, but that’s not always in monetary terms.
  • Organizations, when it comes to reward and recognition, want to reward and recognize based on what they deem to be approporiate rewards and recognition. But, you need to be able to understand how your employee feels valued and how they feel recognized and show them in their “love language”. That will vary for different people. Some people need career opportunities. Some people need actual monetary compensation. Some people need various other things. Figure out what that is in your organization and for your people and create an employee rewards and recognition program around that.
  • We have to stop thinking about agent experience, customer experience etc and treating these things in silos. What we are really talking about is a human experience. And it goes back to the golden rule, treat people how they want to be, or how you want to be treated.
  • I was talking to an agent just the other day and they were saying, oh man, yeah, I log into two phone systems and about six or seven other tools to get an answer for a customer on a daily basis. And I was like, you have got to be kidding me in 2023. This is insane.
  • Currently we’re prioritizing features over outcomes.
  • Let’s do an audit of the technology you currently have or the processes that you currently have in place and then start from there back to the experience. What is the outcome? What is the experience that you’re trying to drive?
  • Let’s stop prioritizing features and start prioritizing outcomes and experiences.
  • Juanita’s Punk CX word(s): Don’t have a dirty foot approach.
  • Juanita’s Punk XL brand: Chick-fil-A.

About Juanita

Juanita headshotJuanita Coley is best known as the “Contact Center Whisperer” the CEO and Founder of Solid Rock Consulting. Solid Rock Consulting is a workforce management consulting firm. We are the people brands call to elevate and scale their customer experience.

From teen mom to tech maven, Mrs. Corporate America 2022, Most Influential Tech Advisor and 2022 Top 25 Thought Leader. Juanita and her team of consultants has a global presence spanning the US, Canada, and EMEA markets.

While Juanita has had an impressive career she’s just getting started. Her mission is to impact a million women & minorities making careers in Tech more visible and accessible, while having a transformative impact on the customer experience industry.

Check out Solid Rock Consulting, say Hi to Juanita on X (Twitter) @TheJuanitaColey and also on Instagram @solidrockconsulting and @contactcenterwhisperer. Finally, feel free to connect with Juanita on LinkedIn here.

Credit: Photo by Andrew Butler on Unsplash

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.

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