Research by SMQ Group says that the average call centre agent turnover was 35% in 2021 and 38% in 2022 – and 2023 is likely to be even higher. The figures are jaw-dropping when you compare this with general industry turnover rates of 9.5% in Australia and an average national turnover rate of 20.5% in New Zealand.

With recruitment and training costs and the time it takes to realise agent value, delivering a consistent, cost-effective, and efficient contact centre service is hard work. High absenteeism (another symptom of unhappy agents) doesn’t help either.

What's behind agent unhappiness?

So, what’s making agents unhappy? Some of it’s due to the new opportunities opened up by the WFH model. It’s easier to job-hop when location isn’t a consideration. Conversely, for some, the remote model also contributes to an emotional disconnect from the team. It’s often difficult to feel supported by co-workers and management in a virtual workplace – so they feel less loyalty and appreciation and are discouraged by a lack of peer and management recognition and reward.

The very nature of contact centre work can be exhausting, with sometimes undesirable work schedules, experiencing the same repetitive calls and tasks day after day, and being chained to a desk and headset.

The chance for career progression due to lack of coaching or advanced training is also an issue for many, as is dealing with an endless queue of unhappy customers. The fast pace of work and low pay rates are also significant motivators for agents looking to leave.

The value of agent happiness

According to McKinsey & Company’s “Boosting contact-center performance through employee engagement” report, engaged and satisfied call-centre employees are:

As you can see, having happy agents pays a real-world dividend for your business. Retention rates go up, attrition levels go down – as do the costs associated with recruitment and training, and customers enjoy a more positive experience. 

8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year

4x more likely to stay than dissatisfied colleagues

16x more likely to refer friends to their company

3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues

Get ahead in the happiness stakes

So, what can you do to address agent unhappiness and champion their happiness instead? While some of the answers lie in your own business culture and commitment to employee engagement, your choice of contact centre technology can also significantly impact agent attitude and job satisfaction.

With Microsoft Digital Contact Centre Platform, you can:

  1. Reduce job tedium: By using UI-based automation with desktop flows, you can eliminate manual processes and reduce repetitive tasks. So, no two days need to be the same.
  2. Make customer engagement more satisfying: Providing (in real-time) similar cases and knowledge article suggestions customised for the current context makes resolving customer issues easier and faster. Average call handling time goes down, and agent KPIs go up. It’s a win-win for everyone.
  3. Remove risk: No one likes to be targeted by criminals – your agents included! Using AI-powered voice biometrics to monitor and identify potential fraudsters and reduce the risk associated with fraud means your agents become more productive, don’t feel their time has been wasted and aren’t vulnerable to blame if they make a wrong call.
  4. Decrease queue pressure: Knowing that for every inbound call answered, there are another 100 waiting can be daunting and depressing to even the best agent. By configuring and using AI-powered chatbots to engage with customers in multiple languages and across channels, you can reduce queue sizes while knowing that your customers are still being well-served.
  5. Back up your agents. With recordings and transcripts of every call, you can improve training, identify call handling issues, and defend agents from wrongful accusations by irate customers – or, conversely, identify consistently high performers.
  6. Allocate calls more intelligently: Automatically routing customers to the agent best qualified to help, rather than expecting all agents to be experts in everything, makes everyone happy.
  7. Provide proactive help: With customer sentiment enabled, you can automatically identify when a call isn’t going well so a supervisor or more experienced agent can collaborate with the agent under fire in resolving the customer issue. Then, it’s a matter of a problem shared is a problem halved.
  8. Empower with UI: Providing your agents with a browser-type experience with tabs means they can work on multiple cases and conversations without changing screens or working in a new window.
  9. Make it easier to have great customer interactions: Maximise agent efficiency, improve job satisfaction and reduce attrition by giving access to relevant real-time and historical insights, visibility into active conversations, and proactive recommendations for more information.
  10. Champion collaboration, so help is always at hand: When support or advice is needed, help your agents collaborate more effectively and efficiently with their co-workers, supervisors, and subject matter experts through the embedded Microsoft Teams chat and intelligent case swarming. Again, this is another win-win for both your agents and customers.

All of that said, technology is only part of the happiness equation. However, equipping your agents to become more productive, empowered, and less bogged down by routine will go a long way to improving retention and job satisfaction and battling attrition. From there, the rest is up to you.

Great outcomes start with great conversations


Great outcomes start with great conversations

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