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Apr 04 2017 THE HIDDEN COST OF AGENT DISSATISFACTION

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When you’re talking about the ROI in the context of a contact center, typically the discussion will almost exclusively center around customer satisfaction. While this measurement is important, there is a potentially larger and more fundamental cost pool that is generally ignored.

How satisfied your agents are with their job.

Their satisfaction matters because of its direct relationship with turnover, attitude and performance. In fact, research from Call Me! IQ reports that large call centers experience an average annual attrition of 49 percent – almost half the call center staff turns over every year.

Those numbers may sound like great news for HR departments and recruiters, but they represent an enormous and unnecessary drain to the contact center. Couple that with a variety of reports that suggest the total cost of exit/rehire/train is as much as 20 to 40 percent of salary – just in tangible costs – and we can understand the impact to ROI.

What’s more, agent job dissatisfaction manifests itself before an employee quits in a lack of interest in their jobs, as well as a lack of concern for your customers. And though that kind of discontent can be hard to quantify, there’s no doubt this agitated mindset can significantly undermine the quality of care your customers are receiving.

What Makes Your Agents Dissatisfied?

So why are your agents unhappy? And what can you do about it?

  • Eliminate the routine, low-value calls that the agents get bored of and typically don’t contribute to their incentives. Order status/confirmation, account status, password reset and other similar transactions often don’t create new revenue opportunities. They do, however, consume agents’ time and aggravate frustration. Find those transactions that can easily be handled by a well-crafted, self-service application and automate them in your contact center.
  • Reduce the customer’s urge to “pound 0” as soon as they hit your IVR to get transferred to an agent. You likely have invested in self-service applications that are routinely bypassed because they miss a very important element – customer intimacy. Customers expect that when they call a company with whom they have previously done business, the company knows who they are and won’t treat them like a stranger when they call from a known number. So don’t force your customers into a generic, fixed menu-based IVR. Rather, prompt them for a confirmation of why you think they are calling, and then direct them appropriately. Studies have shown this design technique can eliminate as much as 75 percent of unnecessary agent transfers.
  • Design customer interactions from the customers’ perspective: The interactions of your customers should be designed with their needs and wants at the forefront of your mind. Customers who are frustrated – either because you didn’t contact them before they had to call you with an issue, or from being forced through a bad IVR design – will vent their frustration on the agent. No one likes a job where they are the brunt of someone’s frustration over something they have no control over.
Frustrated Customers Cost Money

It is these frustrated customers that create costs rarely tracked, but massively punitive. Here’s how:

  • Long talk time: Frustrated customers will vent to the agent for up to three minutes before actually engaging on the issue. Leaving the feelings of your customers and agents to the side – although they are surely impacted in this scenario – this kind of inefficiency is expensive for any organization.
  • Supervisor transfer: Often if an upset customer does not immediately believe they have made their point, they will demand to be transferred to a supervisor. This is drives up the necessary supervisor/agent ratio for the contact center. Give your agents authority to address complex issues and avoid these unnecessary transfers.
  • Concessions: Many companies authorize their agents to offer concessions to pacify irate customers. This can be very expensive and are often overlooked in an ROI analysis.
  • Habit-forming: Once a customer has a bad experience with your IVR and finds the “pound 0” technique works for them, you can count on them doing it again and again.
Final Thought 

In short, improve your agents’ job satisfaction to reduce turnover and associated costs, and increase their attitude and performance. Concurrently, create a more personalized and responsive IVR to drive up customer satisfaction and loyalty while you’re at it.

It isn’t hard, and doesn’t need to be expensive – you just need to ask an expert.