85% of Customer Service Agents Don’t Want to Return to Contact Centers, Work from Home Could Be Permanent

Artificial Intelligence Services, New Automation Processes, and Workflows Can Raise WFH Agent Productivity

ASAPP, Inc., the AI Cloud company published its CX Report: ‘Is the Future of Service at Home?,’ which reveals that 85% of Customer Service Agents want to work full-time at home and not return to contact center offices.

“Contact center operations are rethinking how to make their agents more successful, which requires a whole new way of thinking and operating. This will need a new investment in technologies that transform contact center agents’ productivity beyond the constraints of incremental technology. Appealing to the 85% of agents that want to work from home (WFH) could stave off competition for employees from other industries and help reduce recruitment costs and attrition rates,” said Macario Namie ASAPP Chief Strategy Officer.

“Contact Centers have the biggest opportunity in decades to advance agent productivity with artificial intelligence technology, new automation processes and workflows, which can also support CX workforce demands wherever they work. With an estimated $15 billion spent in the United States annually for contact center real estate—that is unwanted, and unused—monies could be repurposed into new technology investments.”

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working in customer service has increased 53% over the last 20 years to approximately 3 million people, with 15M estimated globally. “Legacy contact center technology has over-promised and under-delivered in providing effective automation, cost savings and productivity over the last 20 years,” said Namie.

According to the latest ASAPP CX report almost nine out of ten agents want to see more aspects of customer interactions automated. “Now with AI Native technology, automation is becoming easier to build and integrate with company systems. Automation should not be viewed as exclusively the domain of containment and deflection. In fact, automation can be fused to the live agent interaction to make the experience for companies, employees and customers significantly better,” added Namie.

Telephone support is the costliest channel for contact center operations, and it limits agents to handling one customer at a time. Over the last two decades deflection technologies such as virtual assistants and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have helped redirect customers to chat and messaging channels that increase the number of customers an agent can handle at one time—yet only half of agents believe chat and messaging has improved their jobs.

To help increase agent usage of chat and messaging—and therefore increase the numbers of customers an agent can handle at one time—companies should consider messaging that automates message crafting, routine tasks and summary notes along with improved training and automation that increases usage and performance metrics.

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How agents interact with customers

  • 93% of agents use the telephone
  • 60% of agents use email
  • 43% use chat or messaging
  • 29% use video conferencing.

“While legacy vendors focus on containing and deflecting customer interactions, better designed technology and more training will be required to increase adoption of non-voice channels if companies want to scale customer support more affordably,” said Namie.

For more CX report data, and to download a copy of the report

ASAPP CX Report was based on a survey of 572 Customer Support, Sales and Technical Agents who live and work in the United States. The survey was conducted March through April 2022 in partnership with Researchscape International.

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