Top challenges of working in a contact centre

This is a guest post by Swati Kungwani, who is the business analyst and content manager for iTouchVision.

Supporting the ‘Support’ Staff Deliver Better Experiences!

The customer service industry has always been a hot potato. With newer technologies and changing trends, there is a huge pressure on the customer service agents to be on their toes. Talking about customer service, contact centre holds a primary position. The contact centre agents are the frontline employees dealing with the customers. They are the face of your organization. That’s why; it’s extremely important to make sure that they are capable enough to keep your customers happy.

“Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work.” -Martin Oliver

Contact centre agents are responsible for various functions ranging from answering customers’ queries, driving sales and marketing strategies, collecting feedback, helping with the product or services and maintaining customer relations. And customer service has gone far from only calls to emails, chats, and social media. The duties of contact centre agents are no more limited. And so are their challenges! It’s quite a tough job.

According to Gartner, unified omnichannel customer engagement will become tougher by 2020. More than 25% of enterprises will encounter irreconcilable people, political or organizational issues.

The industry appears quite attractive from outside. But, there are many obstacles to delivering customer help. Let us have a look at the top 5 challenges faced by the agents-

1. The ‘Stress’ Monster

  • Contact centres are meant to provide round-the-clock service. The agents are placed into different working shifts to suit different time-zones and ensure high availability. But, the agents have to pay a high price for being flexible. It is found that contact centre agents suffer from various health issues including stress, insomnia, high blood pressure, ulcers, acoustic shocks, etc. Going gets tougher as it’s a job where they have to be constantly seated, be available, attend calls, deal with customers’ anger, respond back and be available as and when they are required.
  • It is a stressful job. The agents often complain about short and inadequate breaks, respiratory problems as generally a huge team shares the same space, and emotional stress. This is one of the critical reasons for high employee attrition rate in this industry. The agents who cannot take this level of stress prefer to change their ways sooner or later.

2. Lack of ‘Growth’

  • As a whole, the customer service industry is huge and endless. But, considering the career of contact centre agents, they feel they cannot rise above a level. There is a limited growth opportunity for a long-term career. Also, this industry observes a high client attrition rate. This means there is no job security. And, nobody would like to stick somewhere if they are unsure of their future.
  • Many contact centre agents consider it is a stagnant job. The ‘flat’ structure of contact centres limits the growth prospects. The agents are unsure of what’s next in line for their development. To prevent this, contact centre managers must have a well-defined career path for their agents. They should have a clear idea of their success. It should not be a temporary stint.

3. Complex and Mystifying ‘Systems’

  • Contact centre software has become quite common. Most of the companies use some or the other solution to manage the calls and data. Though these systems aim to help the agents, the results are sometimes vice-versa. For instance, due to wrong input or understanding, the call from IVR is not transferred to the right agent. It lowers down the possibility of a quick resolution. In fact, it disappoints the customer further.
  • Or, it is the software that the agents cannot use. 61% of businesses are looking to improving their knowledge management systems to engage their agents. The agents cry over systems when they face issues like fetching an answer, unable to search a piece of information, slow performance, complex steps and incomplete details. It happens that instead of easing their work, software complicates it. Investing in a right software solution is the key to reduce the operational challenges.

4. Burden of ‘Expectations’

  • It is not wrong to say that contact centre agents have a hard time in meeting the expectations of the company, their supervisors, and the customers. The job expects them to be perfect with every answer and interaction. Considering the impact of social media, a single mistake can be very costly. Customers connect with the agents with high expectations. They want the accurate answers, a proper solution and timely help. Supervisors expect the agents to be friendly, polite, quick, and creative in their work. The company expects high first call resolution rate and repeat business.
  • Amidst all this, the agent has to face rude customer calls and answer unexpected queries. He has to bear the performance pressure. The agents have to maintain strict timelines and give their best. It is a hard nut to crack. Above that, due to high employee attrition, the agents are often overburdened to complete the workload. Balancing expectations from every corner makes it a tough job. As per the research by MetricNet, the First Call Resolution industry standard is 74%.

5. Attractive Paychecks with Lesser ‘Value’

  • A contact centre agent can expect to begin with quite an attractive package. The industry offers good perks as well. But, on the other side, it also offers hardships like no other. The ratio of disengaged employees in this sector is fairly higher. Most of the contact centre agents consider this job as their provisional career option. This is because they don’t get the job contentment.
  • It is a job that demands a lot. It only offers the higher salary in return. There is no or lesser focus on employee engagement. Due to this reason, there is a high percentage of absenteeism. The agents feel drained while working for a longer period. This job is often tagged as a ‘demoralizing’ profession. To change this scenario, a company should motivate employees, inculcate strong values, care for them and bind them to the culture.

Easing the ‘Not-So-Easy’ Work!

The above-mentioned hurdles give a fair idea of how hard it is for the contact centre agents to accomplish their daily work. Considering the importance of this job in retaining customers and maintaining relations, the companies need to be serious about retaining the agents first. Here are few steps to simplify contact centre operations –

  • Focus on recruiting the right candidates.
  • Impart appropriate training.
  • Give adequate time to adapt to the product and working environment.
  • Keep monitoring and ask their feedback.
  • Empower them with user-friendly cloud-based applications.
  • Use intelligent call-routing.
  • Give the right tools and knowledge-base for faster resolution.
  • Ensure equal workload.
  • Help them grow with newer roles and learning opportunities.
  • Consider digital and remote working if possible.
  • Engage them with team-bonding activities.
  • Make sure the working area is maintained properly.
  • Give personal attention to know if there is any problem.
  • Emphasize on unified communication.
  • Use Gamification techniques.
  • Lastly, be with them and acknowledge their contribution.

It’s high time that we consider contact centre jobs as no lesser than any other. A company’s overall customer relationships can be positive or negative depending on its service and support. To provide customer service in full swing, address the problems of your agents. Help them to be productive in their work and in turn, they will bind your customers.

According to the reports, the Global Cloud Based Contact Center Market was worth $6.17 billion in 2016 and it will grow at a CAGR of 25.9%. It is expected to reach $30.98 billion by 2023. It will be a crucial factor in redefining customer experience. In a nutshell, it will also help the agents to do be more effective.

Reduce employee attrition to increase customer satisfaction!

 

This is a guest post by Swati Kungwani, who is the business analyst and content manager for iTouchVision.

About Swati

Swati KungwaniSwati Kungwani is the business analyst and content manager for iTouchVision, a UK-based customer service platform. She specialises in customer experience management and driving new customer initiatives. Connect with her on Linkedin. Join iTouchVision’s social network: FacebookTwitterLinkedin.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

 

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