IVR systems helping to reduce agent turnover in a contact center? At first, you may think that’s a rather bold statement. Seemingly, automation technologies and agent morale are two separate components of customer service operations. They’re not. We’re going to walk you through a few scenarios that illustrate exactly how you can elevate employee morale.
If you’re part of the team managing a contact center, you know that attrition is likely your number-one problem. Agent turnover increases your operating costs as training for more and more new agents is continuously ongoing. And with that, of course, is the cost of always being in the recruitment hunt. There’s also an impact on your human cost as your best managers and team leaders face new team member challenges every month. The causes are relatively simple to quantify:
- Frustration: today’s consumers are increasingly impatient and ready to express it
- Compensation: they typical contact center agent wage doesn’t often align with the expectations of a demanding customer service job
- Performance: first call resolution is more critical than ever; having your job performance rated on it can be demanding
- Training: high attrition often leads to rushed training, which is poor training.
- Call volume: attrition and inadequate training frequently lead to an understaffed and inefficient operation, resulting in increasing call volume for agents.
- Leadership: even the best managers and team leaders can buckle under the strain of managing attrition.
There’s no shortage of customer service blogs that discuss these and other more industry-specific causes of turnover. I found twenty, or rather, I visited twenty from the long list of Google search returns. Of those, only one had an all-important additional bullet item: technology, or the lack thereof.
Technology Isn’t A Cure On Its Own
Technology for the sake of technology should never drive your customer service decisions. But your technology choices and the way you implement them can make or break your agent morale. Lack of proper tools, or poorly executed tools, can cause a trickle-down of issues that impact attrition. Something as simple as slow-loading customer information screens can frustrate agents, affect their resolution times, cause calls on hold to stack up, feeling like they’re not getting paid enough for this level of work, and blame leadership for poor oversight. We just covered 80% of that bullet list above with one issue.
Let’s examine some scenarios where the right technology helped agents perform their jobs better.
The Mighty Screen-Pop
Recently we met with a company that operates as a contact center for thousands of large and small companies in a specific retail vertical. Over the past few years, their business multiplied as they focused on excellent service for their niche market customers. But as their call volume and agent-count increased, so too did agent attrition. As attrition rates approached 70%, one process was identified as a primary agent paint-point, looking up caller information. Identifying callers was a tedious process, requiring a manual process with at least two systems. It went something like this:
- Ask the caller their name.
- Often confirm the spelling of the caller’s name.
- Use one system to find the company for which the caller is a customer.
- Switch to the data system of the right company.
- Ask the caller why they’re calling.
After all this, once the agent was ready to help, a common reason for calling required a third set of data to resolve, causing more delays and frustration. At the contact center, with multiple screens, this process was at least somewhat manageable. But with agents using a single screen while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue was impacting their business. Customers were frustrated, agents were dealing with irritated customers, and average handling times were spiking.
We presented a relatively simple solution, the mighty screen-pop. Our managed CPaaS, the Compass Automation Platform, easily integrates with any data source that provides API access. Utilizing CallerID information, it’s a simple matter to retrieve the caller’s information from multiple sources. The caller information is pushed to the company’s CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) and presented to the agent as a pop-up when answering the call. And with the most commonly requested information included in the screen-pop, callers were delighted.
Shutter Your PCI Clean Desks
Another company, a large manufacturer of durable goods, was dealing with increasing payments by phone in their contact center. To conform to PCI compliance, they installed several “PCI Clean Desks” for agents to use. Typically, agents assigned to clean desks have a miserable task working without notepads, cell phones, or anything else that might record payment information. The clean desk policy went something like this:
- When a payment call is received, put the caller on hold
- Proceed to the nearest clean desk location
- The agent confirms they’re entering the desk without any personal devices, paper, etc.
- They reengage the caller to accept payment information
- When the caller shares their payment information, the recording of the call is paused
Open, on-demand clean desks are a reasonable workaround to avoid a miserable working environment for agents. However, as payment call volume increased, it quickly became tedious for callers. Clean desks were often all occupied with a new payment call came in, requiring the agent to wait, leaving the caller on hold for five or more minutes. On occasion, the backup became so pronounced that agents often had to offer to call the customer back later to accept their payment. It was causing irritated callers, endless agent apologies, and unacceptable call handling times.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, every problem was quickly made worse with most agents working from home. The new process for remote agents handling a payment involved finding an available agent working at the contact center and having he or she take the caller to a clean desk.
Enter our managed CPaaS, the Compass Automation Platform, and its automated payment application. Our platform was already integrated with their payment gateway, so all that’s necessary is API access to their CRM and customer account information. Now their agents can transfer callers making a payment to the automated payment IVR. After driving adoption and awareness, most customers dialed directly into the 24/7 payment line, bypassing the contact center completely. Integrating automated phone payments is another way to delight both your customers and your agents.
Self-Service To The Rescue
Our final example is a consumer finance company with a growing portfolio of products, a growing contact center, and rising agent attrition rates. A few of the new products were revolving credit with all the self-service expectations those customers expect. The problem was that their current IVR vendor was unable to provide the self-service options that were necessary.
The leading need for self-service automation revolved around responding to available balance lookups. Agents were growing frustrated over responding to mundane requests while callers with more urgent issues were waiting on hold.
Our managed CPaaS, the Compass Automation Platform, accomplished the integrations and call-flows necessary to provide a significant list of self-service options. Callers could get the needed information quickly and efficiently, and agents were spending more time on meaningful customer problems.
Happy Agents Deliver Great Customer Service
These were three simple examples showing how self-service automation in your contact center can elevate agent job satisfaction and reduce turnover. And with reduced turnover, that means less training expenses, fewer recruitment efforts, and so on. And most important of all, happy agents translate to delightful service with callers.
To learn more about how automation can transform your contact center or other customer service operation, and make your agents happy, contact us.