Do You Make It Easy for Your Agents to Do Their Jobs?

Many contact centers would claim that they do their best to empower agents to do their jobs. After all, they provide their agents with access to a CRM system, a desktop tool to document their activities, and maybe even an overview of the customer journey.

In reality, however, most contact centers lack the relevant technologies agents need to do their jobs, and that is still the No. 1 factor agents identify as the culprit for their productivity challenges, which ultimately result in poor customer experiences.

To determine what good looks like in the area of agent productivity and performance management, Aberdeen recently published a new study on the topic. In this study, we analyzed responses from 445 contact centers. We then separated these firms into two categories: First is a group of organizations that reported year-over-year (YOY) performance gains in agent productivity and customer satisfaction. (We added customer satisfaction to the mix because it's the definitive measure of whether productive agents ultimately help the company improve customer experiences.) The second category included firms that achieved no improvement or observed worsening of their performance across both measures. The table below shows the respective performance findings from firms in both categories.

YOY performance change (n=445)

Companies Improving Agent Productivity and Performance

All Others

Customer satisfaction

16.8 percent

-2.7 percent

Agent productivity

14.9 percent

-3.0 percent

Source: Aberdeen, October 2018.

It's important to note that the findings in the table above represent average performance improvements. Some contact centers participating in the survey reported far superior performance gains by successfully building and maintaining top-notch agent productivity and performance management programs.

Our research findings showed that the firms that truly empower their agents share a common set of characteristics. One such characteristic is that they minimize the complexity for agents to access relevant insights. Those savvy contact centers with superior agent productivity are 80 percent more likely to integrate the agent desktop with other enterprise systems, such as CRM and enterprise resource planning. This integration allows agents to easily access data across disparate systems through the agent desktop without the need to log in to different systems and query data individually to help customers.

While integration helps empower agents with vast insights across the enterprise, it is also critical for making a seamless user experience through the agent desktop. To this point, survey findings show that on average, agents use three different applications when serving customers. Making all this information available via a single screen within the agent desktop boosts agent productivity by minimizing the time agents spend looking for insights. It also reduces average handle times; after all, the time that agents spend seeking insights ultimately lengthens the duration of customer interactions. With less time spent obtaining support, customers become less frustrated and their perceived effort levels to get their needs addressed decreases.

Do you empower your agents with any of the above capabilities?

If not, we highly recommend that you do so you can make it easier for your agents to do their jobs. You'll observe benefits of this activity in the form of more productive agents who can more successfully handle customer needs. Make 2019 the year you truly empower your agents to achieve your customer experience objectives.

Omer Minkara is vice president and principal analyst covering contact center and customer experience management at Aberdeen Research.