Agent efficiency, automation, and operational insights
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We’ve been talking a lot lately about agent attrition — what’s causing it, what it means for your business, and why it’s so difficult to counteract. By now, you get it: contact center attrition is a big issue that costs companies billions of dollars every year, and it’s only getting worse.
So if you’re running a contact center, what can you do to make your agents’ lives easier and keep them around for longer? If you’re looking for an answer to that question, you came to the right place. Here at Khoros, we don’t just care about our customers (and their customers) — we care about customer support agents, too. That’s why we conducted interviews with top customer support stakeholders at enterprise brands, to see how they’re taking on the problem of agent attrition.
In this blog, I’ll go over some of our most interesting findings to give you a leg up on keeping your agents happy. If you’re interested in reading the full report, check out our latest whitepaper. But now, let’s cover three of the best practices we discovered in our survey that can help you reduce attrition in your contact center.
Agent attrition rates are higher than ever before, and that costs contact centers a lot of money. Agents are stressed and so are leaders, as both run into the issues of how to address agents' wants and needs strategically without breaking the bank. The best way to do that? Automation. Automating processes gives agents more freedom and control, leading not just to higher efficiency but also to increased job satisfaction. This is how the agent of the future will function — and stay in their role.
How can automation accomplish all this without raising contact center costs? Here are three ways.
Contact centers are no longer just for phone calls; today’s customer service organization supports a wide variety of digital channels, which customers often prefer over phone. In short, moving to this digital-first model has allowed agents to move away from doing nothing but telephone work. This blended model, where agents handle incoming inquiries from multiple channels (sometimes at the same time) isn’t just good for business; it also correlates with improved morale and lower attrition. That’s because it gives agents more variety and engagement in their work.
Yet more channels can create real headaches for agents, especially if information is siloed across multiple systems. Whether it's phone, email, chat or social media, agents can feel overwhelmed switching between disparate channels to collect fragmented pieces of customer data. Even worse, customers often have to repeat themselves when they use more than one channel, leading to a poor experience.
Omnichannel engagement platforms allow agents to interact with customers across different channels in a single, unified interface. This empowers agents with information, such as customer identification or real-time conversation alerts, to help ensure they’re working efficiently. What’s more, supervisors can curate real-time insights into their team’s operational efficiency across various channels. With everything on one screen, agents don’t need to cycle between applications to see the full picture. Further, their flexibility to communicate with customers on various channels as needed means that first-contact resolution rates and CSAT should go up, while handle times and per-interaction costs go down.
Of all the strategies brands can take to cut contact center costs and improve efficiency, self-service is one of the most effective. This strategy deflects inquiries, makes it easier for contact centers to maintain SLAs, and even improves customer satisfaction. But perhaps even more importantly, implementing self-service options makes it easier for agents to do their jobs.
Effective self-service automation can solve many simple customer-asks, while also consolidating data for agents when escalations do occur. Not only that, but they eliminate many of the mundane, repetitive tasks agents might deal with. 60% of customer service calls are requests for assistance with common, uncomplicated tasks. And, as Contact Babel notes, a major advantage to having customers use web self-service is that it's estimated to be 40–100 times less expensive than a live call to an agent.
Chatbots, which carry different levels of sophistication, such as having a human avatar or a personality, can become more effective by embodying the company’s brand and personality with a character. They can connect a customer with solutions for simpler issues, deflecting work from agents, who are freed up to focus on calls that AI couldn’t address.
Only a minority of call centers use a single, unified agent desktop. Most have up to seven applications that agents must manage to handle customer interactions both during and after a call. Even if legacy systems are integrated very loosely — or maybe not at all — a unified agent desktop cuts out agents’ need to log into multiple applications, assists them with navigating between applications during a call, and ensures that customer data is collected and disseminated correctly to the appropriate place, without having to bounce between multiple systems.
Normally agents will do these tasks manually and in piecemeal. However, this can increase training costs, cause higher attrition due to agent frustration, cause inconsistent data entries, and lead to decreased customer satisfaction — especially during long queues or calls that run longer than needed.
The unified agent desktop is usually coupled with robotic processing automation (RPA), a subset of the technology that harnesses AI or internal-facing bots to collect and replicate data across multiple applications. Like self-service tools, this cuts down repetitive tasks agents must do by letting AI handle them. Moreover, a unified agent desktop is, like a knowledge base, a way to streamline existing workflow and tools so that agents feel supported and less stressed during their day-to-day responsibilities.
Here, we covered three of the most important ways to reduce agent attrition through automation. In our full report, we go over even more reasons, as well as original research from interviews with some of the top contact center stakeholders in the industry.
Download that report today to get all the information and keep your contact center agents happy in their roles.