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4 Reasons Why Your Contact Center Agents Aren't Happy

Unhappy agents are less motivated to please your customers and more likely to leave

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Kindra Cooper

Agent experience

In today’s EX-cognizant workplace, there’s no longer a need to make the case for why happy agents equals happy customers.

However, despite their best intentions, many contact centers struggle to reduce agent turnover. In fact, 75 percent of the reasons employees generally desert their posts are preventable, according to a 2017 study by Work Institute. 

In a recent webinar, ‘How a Leading Company Eliminated Agent Friction, Elevated CSAT’, we discussed four reasons why your agents might be unhappy at work.  

1. Agents are expected to use too many desktop applications

Companies invest a vast majority of their IT budgets on state-of-the-art UX design for customer-facing portals like their website and mobile app, while neglecting to update the user interfaces employees use on a daily basis. 

Agents are often saddled with slow, training-intensive desktop interfaces and software that force them to build workarounds into routine tasks. Statistics show that the average worker spends 67 minutes per day hunting for key information and 39 minutes duplicating communications. 

Couple this with the fact that agents today do way more than take calls, so their performance expectations are more complex than ever. An agent might toggle between a social listening tool to mediating multiple web chats to answering calls and back-office data entry – all while adhering to a set of KPIs. 

Read more: Reddit's Will Cady on How to Reach Your Customers Through Social Listening

Make sure all communications tools are integrated into one desktop, such as combining your CRM and social listening tool. Additionally, your workforce management tool should enable employees to clock in and out, schedule time off and review performance all in one place.

Workforce managementIt should be accessible from any device – “anywhere that they have a web browser or maybe an app on their phone, or even within an application they’re already using,” Lisa Elbe, solution consultant at Verint Monet, said during the webinar. 

2. There’s no schedule adherence for agents 

The whole point of workforce management is forecasting incoming customer inquiries across all channels and scheduling employees accordingly. However, when there’s little to no enforcement of schedule adherence, it defeats the purpose of WFM teams spending hours combing historic data and building predictive models to determine schedules months in advance. 

Elbe says that a lot of contact center supervisors are reluctant to be bullish about schedules because of the high-stress and high-turnover nature of the job. But when a supervisor condones slacking off, it erodes the morale of those who are naturally hard-working. 

“I started my contact center career as an agent and honestly, nothing was more demoralizing to me than sitting in a cubicle taking call after call, and I look over and I see my teammates...and they’re reading a magazine or something like that while waiting for call volume to go down,” recalls Elbe. 

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A WFM tool sends managers alerts when agents spend significant amounts of time in a not-ready state. It can automatically send the agent a status alert while also alerting their manager. 

Always make it easy for your agents to see and follow a schedule. Program reminders for agents that their lunch break or afternoon team huddle is approaching, or send them status alerts on their performance. This type of automation allows agents to adhere to a schedule while staying focused on the customer and working across multiple channels.

Automated alerts also bring the right things to a manager’s attention that would otherwise go unnoticed, such as a longer-than-average speed to answer or sudden slump in CSAT. 

3. A poor customer experience increases stress for agents 

When a restaurant kitchen botches an order, the waiter bears the blow. Your contact center agents face a similar burden. If your business provides an overall poor customer experience, your agents are the ones to reckon with angry customers who waited on hold for too long or were forced to call numerous times to resolve an issue. 

High abandon rates and long handle times are signs that agents don’t have the resources they need to satisfy customers. They will eventually tire of working a job that’s high-stress and low-satisfaction. 

Read more: Former Google and Facebook Exec on the REAL Reason Women Struggle to Get to the Top 

“Agents burn out from taking one call after another and then having to spend the first 30 seconds of every single call apologizing for long hold times,” says Elbe. “And when the customer comes on the line, they’re already unhappy.”

Take your contact center metrics seriously, not just in terms of agent performance but as indicators of what might be a broken customer journey. Blaming agents for customers who are unsatisfied with, say, a faulty product or overly strict return policy doesn’t solve the problem. 

4. Agents aren’t empowered to do their best

Every business has vastly different ideas about agent empowerment. For instance, a company like Zappos places no limits on call handle time, instead urging its CS reps to spend as much time on the phone as necessary to make the customer happy.

Others offer flexible schedules to empower agents to achieve work/life balance, such as 4x10 (10-hour shifts, four days per week), remote work or shift selections based on performance. Without proper workforce management, it’s hard for companies to offer flexible schedules while maintaining required service levels. 

What’s more, flexible scheduling means more variables at play, meaning that workforce managers need access to intraday management as well. Intraday management responds to staff shortages in real-time by redeploying agents in proportion to call volume.

It also automatically tracks and displays performance statistics throughout the day, thereby enabling a more data-rich way of tracking staff performance and training.