Up to 1.2 Million American Contact Center Agents Leave Their Job Each Year, Citing Lack of Training, Technology and Career Growth
ASAPP, Inc., the artificial intelligence (AI) research-driven company, published a new, first-of-its-kind report CX: The Human Factor. The report reveals the core challenges facing three million US contact center agents, an industry with one of the highest employee turnover rates; 40% leave their roles within 12 months. Three key themes of training/coaching, technology and career opportunities emerged from interviews and a survey with agents that illustrate a focus on short-term savings that ultimately increase the long-term costs for customer experience.
Improved Training, Coaching
Agents make up 2% of the US workforce with 74% of respondents viewing themselves as brand ambassadors for their company. Yet 51% of agents, who received poor training, report being pessimistic about their careers which can lead to poor performance and burnout. While companies often look at ways to reduce the time it takes to train agents, the report results suggest reduced training lowers the confidence and competence of agents, which can lead to higher absenteeism. 38% of agents stated that training and career growth opportunities would improve their jobs. The impact of training at the start of a job, and throughout an agent’s career, directly impacts their happiness. Ongoing coaching and support for agents has been inconsistent in the shift to work from home with 37% of respondents indicating it had been difficult to receive feedback during the pandemic.
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Technology Gap and Metrics that Matter
45% of agents indicated that technological advancement in contact centers is behind the times. Self-serve technologies such as interactive voice response systems (IVRs) and chatbots are shifting agents to focus on more complex calls, while the majority (72%) of agents are motivated to solve simple customer problems. As contact centers look to align business objectives, they are turning to artificial intelligence to maximize human productivity, increase automation and enable a company to radically scale services. Yet, agents are still unaware of the value that an AI platform can offer them by automating the customer’s journey and supporting the agent through complex customer engagements:
- 51% of agents said AI would solve repetitive customer problems
- 40% of agents recognize that AI will improve the customer experience
- 40% of agents fear AI will take away their jobs
Although 53% of contact center agents expressed optimism about their jobs, overall agents expressed a desire for career growth above all other improvements. Allowing agents to experience a range of roles and growth provides empowerment and optimism for their careers. Beyond collecting a paycheck, agents expressed their motivations to help customers as their priority.
“74% of agents view themselves as company brand ambassadors and the voice of the brand they represent. When companies fail their agents with dysfunctional technology, training and coaching, they risk not only a frustrating employee experience, but a poor customer experience that will have consumers looking elsewhere,” said ASAPP Chief Experience Officer Michael Lawder. “Contact center agents want to be empowered and do their best to help consumers. They operate in a difficult environment with a frankenstack of poorly designed legacy systems that are difficult to use; policies and processes that prioritize cost and liability, over resolution and customer satisfaction—with a lack of ongoing coaching and training that does not help accelerate their progress.”
“Approximately 80% of B2C enterprise CX budgets is spent on labor. The industry has a culture of continuous improvement and focus on metrics, yet how we measure customer service and agent performance must evolve to identify the behaviors that drive customer loyalty and value for employees and customers. The environment we create for employees is the environment that customers experience,” said Barbara Porter, Managing Director, EY. “Agents want to serve people, but current industry metrics measure only a fraction of an agent’s overall performance. Metrics, processes and technology investments must work in concert to serve both the employee and the company to achieve the significant business outcomes required to serve consumers.”