Contact Centers Need Solutions That Address the Root Problem
Today’s contact center agents have never been under more pressure. According to one study, 96% feel acutely stressed at least once a week and almost half cite ‘too many calls’ as their biggest challenge.
In response to this growing problem, contact center leaders have been presented with a wide range of technologies to help agents be more efficient. These solutions may include new Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems that route calls to appropriate agents, or agent assist tools that provide guidance to agents in real-time.
But are these solutions addressing the root problem? After all, call volumes haven’t gotten any more predictable since the pandemic and hiring challenges seem like they are here to stay.
For most contact centers struggling to find and retain enough talented representatives, agent assist tools are simply not a high priority. Here’s why:
Common challenges of agent productivity solutions
Upkeep of the solution gets deprioritized. Agent assist solutions can add incremental gains in efficiency to the contact center, like 5% lower Average Handle Times or one less escalation per 20 calls. But call volume spikes, hiring challenges, and unplanned events like economic instability can cause agent assist tools to quickly fall out of favor. In these cases, managers who are overwhelmed by demand don’t have the luxury of focusing on individual call flows and agents are left with a superfluous solution that doesn’t actually make their lives easier.
High training and onboarding costs. Any new agent tool comes with its own learning curve. But given that 55% of call centers already spend 6-12 weeks training and onboarding new agents, time is often not a readily available resource. Contact centers that require rapid onboarding cycles in order to meet immediate demand should build in training time to the cost of any new agent assist tool. Once training time is factored in, they can then ask themselves if the benefit of an agent assist solution justifies the total cost.
Redundencies when compared to holistic solutions. Agent assist tools – like predictive responses, auto-transcribers, and IVRs – are just one of many disparate solutions that contact centers can integrate into their tech stacks. One long-term problem with these approaches, however, is that more one-off solutions can lead to a long list of feature redundancies or incomplete data. For example, data from agent assist tools may show success for certain guided responses, but lack the deep insights to suggest flows that are ripe for automation – costing contact centers even more in the long run.
Agents want less repetitive tasks
Agent stress is due to high volumes, not a lack of assistance technology. The unprecedented stress that today’s agents are experiencing should tell leaders all they need to know: agents need to field fewer calls. At a time where every agent is being asked to manage 7.2 more calls per day, offloading calls from their workloads is the number one way to reduce stress and improve agent productivity. On the other hand, adding guided assistance to their day-to-day can encourage greater productivity in the short-term, but lead to burnout over longer periods when outsized call volumes are not addressed.
Automation offloads all tier-1 conversations. Contact Center Automation is an alternative solution that not only provides intelligent routing and state-of-the-art agent assist tools during escalations, but also completely offloads tier 1 support requests from live agents. This creates a significant step change in which contact centers can focus less on forecasting headcounts and more on assisting agents where they truly need it: their day-to-day bandwidth and wellness. Contact Center Automation brings automation for tier 1 requests to every channel, with equal or greater efficacy and CSAT score than live agents.
Contact Center Automation makes hiring and retaining easier. As a safeguard against unforeseen spikes, Contact Center Automation gives agents the ability to focus on calls that require creativity and empathy. It helps create an environment agents want to work in, and gives them time back which they can use to add skills and certifications – all while automation handles repetitive requests like account updates, order questions, and much more. When compared to disparate agent assist solutions, Contact Center Automation not only reaps a more immediate ROI, it creates more realistic expectations that translates to higher retention rates and shorter hiring cycles over the long haul.