Article

Contact Centers:
Free your agents’ time!

Ghazi Benabid account executive calldesk voicebot callbot
Ghazi Benabid
Enterprise Account Executive

22 mars 2019

Time is the key variable to improve the customer experience. But how can we free up the agents’ time?

Employee experience, an echo of customer experience

The concept of customer experience is nowadays essential within companies. The notion of employee experience has developed in response to this concept and postulates that the quality of a company’s relationship with its customers is closely linked to the quality of the relationship it maintains with its employees. According to the 2018 Employee Experience’s Barometer by ParlonsRH, nearly 71% of companies consider this axis to be strategic.

This collaborative experience is even more important within a company’s contact centers, in charge of responding to the various and multiple requests from customers. Indeed, a call centre agent who has the task of responding to customer problems can be much more efficient and generate much more satisfaction if he himself has a good experience.

Ideally, companies should therefore work towards the collaborative experience’s quality as they do to meet customer requirements. The reality is quite different: in 2018, only 27% of companies declared that they were actively pursuing a process to improve their employee experience.  

Asymmetry of attention towards call centre agents

The quality of the customer experience is directly linked to the support they receive throughout their journey; to solve a problem, request a service, obtain information. This support is provided by the call centre agent, and it must be noted that the latter is sometimes considered as a simple source of costs to be reduced to a minimum. The consequences are multiple: the study of SP2C 2018 conducted by Ernst & Young reveals that a call centre agent spends 75% of his time performing support tasks and only 6% of his time building customer loyalty. According to the same study, this call centre agent has a nearly 20% chance of leaving his company less than a year after taking up his duties.

In the end, the customers are the ones suffering. Who hasn’t already waited several minutes for a call centre agent on the phone? Who has never faced a call centre agent who is in a hurry and not very flexible about the solutions he can provide? A survey conducted by OpinionWay in 2017 revealed that 70% of customers feel that they are on the move from messaging to messaging, with waiting times that can exceed 15 minutes at peak times!

Contact centres, and more specifically call centre agents, should therefore no longer be considered as cost centres whose mission is to handle the maximum number of requests. Their mission must be refocused on customer satisfaction and strengthening the company’s brand image. This requires call centre agents to adopt more personalized, honest, authentic postures and to be more attentive to customers in order to exceed their expectations. To offer this optimal customer experience, it is essential to involve call centre agents in this process by offering them the same privileges, according to a principle of symmetry of attention. With a successful employee experience, motivation and quality of work are multiplied tenfold to meet the challenges of productivity and company performance.

If this may seem obvious, why don’t all companies adopt such an approach?  What challenges do they still have to face in order to restore symmetry of attention between their clients and their employees?

Presumably, the problem comes from a growing difficulty in reconciling budgetary restrictions and increased contact flows. The consequences are felt directly by the call centre agents who, too few in number, are forced to adopt robotic postures to handle the maximum number of requests. Moreover, 95% of them consider that their work is nervously tiring, according to a study carried out by the consulting firm SIA Partners.

Artificial intelligence to free up call centre agents’ time

Time is therefore the cornerstone of any approach to improving the work environment and productivity of call centre agents. With more time, they can focus more on processing customer requests and focus on their primary mission: delivering an exceptional experience!  

So how can we save time? What tools and methods exist today to relieve call centre agents of monotonous, routine tasks with no real added value?

In recent years, a large number of digital tools have emerged to automate simple management acts within contact centers, i.e. Robotic Process Automation. We are currently witnessing the development of artificial intelligence technologies and solutions to automate the processing of customer requests on their preferred communication channel: the telephone!   

These new solutions, commonly known as “voicebots”, can handle a customer call and converse in natural language in order to qualify its request, identify its need, direct it to the right call centre agent, or even fully process its request by providing personalized answers. In practice, the automation rate can reach an average of 60%, and in some cases exceed 80%.  

By automating the processing of simple and routine calls, these technologies have a dual impact: on the one hand, they save significant time by freeing up thousands of hours of call processing time, and on the other hand, they enhance the work of call centre agents, who can then focus on their core business. It is a virtuous loop with multiple repercussions and benefits: saving time, saving money, reducing turnover, improving customer satisfaction, improving customer retention, increasing revenue… etc.  

For a harmonized customer-collaborator relationship

With the development and democratization of artificial intelligence solutions for customer relations, the role of the call centre agent, and more generally that of the human being, is at the heart of companies’ concerns. In order to reconcile productivity issues with customer experience improvement issues, it is crucial for these companies to communicate to their employees the importance of their role and to enhance the value of their activities.

By delegating the processing of simple and routine calls to an artificial intelligence solution, i.e. voicebot, companies can now offer their customers immediate and qualitative answers, while positioning call centre agents’ expertise on more complex and rewarding interactions.   

Artificial intelligence therefore offers great opportunities by harmonizing in a new way the relationship between the two pillars of a company: its customers and its employees.

Are your agents under too much pressure?

Talk about your contact center’s goals with a customer service expert today.