The Underlying Effects of the Contact Center Crisis
Many of the causes for today’s contact center crisis are sitting in plain sight: empty customer service seats, unpredictable spikes in call volumes, persisting pandemic-related challenges.
For the customer, this leads to understandable frustration. But for the contact center, the costs are innumerable, and they aren’t always obvious.
As leaders in the industry focus on staffing and self-service initiatives in order to overcome workforce shortages, it’s important they also make time to address the long-term effects of recent challenges.
Here are 5 of the hidden costs of the contact center crisis.
According to the national American Customer Satisfaction Index, CSAT continues to decline across all industries and customer service centers. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the national index slipped 0.5% to 73.3 (out of 100). This is the lowest level for the index since 2005.
Contact centers have traditionally been viewed as cost centers, but when they’re unable to perform basic tasks for customers in a timely manner they can do more harm than good. On the flip side of this, contact centers who can quickly pivot their systems to provide automation for tier-1 requests get an instant leg up on their competition. Customers are less likely to cancel, unsubscribe, or tell others about poor customer experiences when they know they can reach a brand immediately, 24/7.
According to ProcedureFlow, “COVID-19 has significantly and possibly permanently altered the way contact centers train their agents.” Over 73% of contact centers say their training protocols will continue to be remote even after the pandemic has settled down.
Conversely, when contact centers use automation to resolve tier-1 requests without agent intervention they allow their agents to focus on training for only the most high-value customer interactions. The longer workforce challenges persist, the more turnover contact centers will experience. Contact Center Automation ensures managers get the most out of their training time, and don’t spend it on inefficient priorities that automation can handle.
These days, when an IVR system repeats to a customer, “We are experiencing unusually high call volumes, all our representatives are busy,” they mean it. But the costs of staffing shortages go beyond just scheduling headaches and customer dissatisfaction.
55% of contact centers spend 6-12 weeks training and onboarding new agents. Combined with with an average annual turnover rates of 30-45% in the space, the costs add up quickly. Replacing exiting workers costs one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. Assuming an average salary of $50,000 that replacement cost translates to between $25,000 and $100,000 per employee.
96% of agents feel acute stress on a weekly basis — and significantly more say they’re stressed multiple times per week. They’re being asked to manage 7.2 more calls per day (and a similar amount in other channels). This is the human cost of the contact center crisis.
Employees in every industry have had to sacrifice work-life balance as remote environments blur the lines between the two priorities. But for contact center agents, the stress is even greater. From a business perspective, it’s hard to expect your agents to provide delightful customer service when they themselves aren’t satisfied.
Companies stuck with legacy technology will end up losing ground to their competitors if they don’t add automation to their roadmaps. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for AI in contact centers – estimated at $1.1 billion in the year 2020 – is projected to reach a revised size of $3.5 billion by 2026.
By the nature of Contact Center Automation, first-movers will have a significant advantage as the technology accrues data earlier and improves over time. Contact Center Automation will also help organizations alleviate staffing issues, retain more agents, and eliminate wait times as the technology resolves tier-1 issues and allows agents to focus on more engaging customer interactions.