Contact Centers Impact Customer Loyalty: 5 Ways to Turn Agents into Brand Guardians
In these uncertain economic times, how can agents be encouraged to secure their income? Recent research shows that consumers believe there is a direct correlation between contact centers and brand loyalty. Calabrio’s Magnus Geverts discusses what organizations can do to support their frontline staff.
In the latest Contact Center Status Report the vast majority of consumers (97%) and contact center managers (98%) agree that customer service interactions impact customer loyalty. According to 88% of contact center managers, brand perception also directly influences overall company revenue. Yet customers are quick to seek new options if they are unsatisfied. An astonishing 60% of consumers have switched brands due to negative contact center experiences. As a result, the role of the contact center is elevated, with agents becoming the gatekeepers of the brand.
Accelerate your path to brand protection
The good news is that the prevalence of remote and hybrid working is accelerating the journey to effective brand protection. Without the stress, cost, and travel time, agents are better positioned to focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences supported by today’s cloud solutions that improve connectivity. In fact, 73% of operations in the UK now have more than half of their agents working from home at least part of the time and there has been little change over the past 12 months. Is it any wonder this trend continues, with top benefits of working from home cited by contact center managers being disaster recovery/business continuity (96%), staff flexibility (60%) and reduced staff attrition (30%)?
The Great Disconnect
However, many contact centers are still being held back by staffing issues. At the top of the list are agent stress/burnout and remote/hybrid work operational challenges (both 40%), followed by high attrition/turnover (38%) and lack of engagement/ agent motivation (37%). Worryingly, these largely internal issues trickle down to the customer. One in 3 consumers say they’ve noticed agents seem more stressed than a year ago, and alarmingly, 72% say an interaction with a stressed contact center agent would negatively impact their perception of A brand. It’s time to act.
5 Ways to Empower Your Brand Guardians
1. Do a better job of public relations on agent careers – with recruitment, attrition and retention being key priorities, it is more important than ever that careers in customer service are viewed positively by the general public. Research from the Call Center Management Association (CCMA) reveals that while 64% of UK consumers think customer service organizations do important work for the community, opinions on pay and benefits lag behind. Contact centers that promote the benefits of flexible hours (57%) and the opportunity to learn new things (56%) have the most to gain.
2. Build a culture of brand guardianship – to help agents achieve your revenue-driving customer experience (CX) goals. Encourage them to perfect a compelling storyboard that makes your organization stand out from the crowd. Embed this brand story into the mindset of agents so it becomes second nature when interacting with customers, regardless of channel. Train new hires and seasoned team members, then inspire and motivate them with incentives and gamification. Offer rewards to those who share the successes and learning of their brand story with others. It gives everyone the opportunity to shine, and customers will benefit from the positive energy and enthusiasm.
3. Introducing new levels of flexibility – after a higher salary, agents want flexibility (at 34%)[vi]. What does flexibility mean in your organization and how can it benefit agents and the business? Try introducing bidding for shifts so agents can view and select their first and second pick of upcoming or unassigned shifts, then get the most out of micro shifts: small windows of time that frontline staff can dedicate to online learning, unexpected domestic crises, or just relaxing.
Then, make the most of self-service automation and allow agents to create and edit their own schedules in real time, using their mobile devices. This evolved form of “lifestyle planning” is hugely empowering, taking the stress out of work-from-home regimes and leaving agents energized to deliver exceptional CX.
4. Monitor agent well-being – with agent stress being a detrimental factor, providing the right support is crucial. Build time into agent schedules to connect with other colleagues and give agents their own stress kit to cope with the demands of their new role. This could include ideas for creating an ergonomic workspace at home, signaling when they’re “on” and “off” or tips to boost energy, like how to get a good night’s sleep.
The latest sentiment analysis tools are also a useful barometer of agent mood. They help identify individual agents who might need additional support and highlight specific pain points that hinder effective brand protection.
5. Give agents tools suitable for training – providing targeted training (49%) and improving technology (43%) are two major areas that contact center managers are currently focusing on. Do your agents know how customers feel at every stage of the customer journey? Can they anticipate what will make or break a good customer experience? First, adopt automated performance coaching solutions to identify individual skill gaps and deliver highly personalized training programs. Then, harness the power of Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics to give agents the intelligent insights they need to thrive as brand guardians and deliver the best customer service ever.
For more ideas on how to turn your frontline staff into brand and revenue stewards in these uncertain economic times, download our latest report: State of the Contact Center 2022: Empowering the Contact Center as brand keeper Click here
Calabrio is a trusted ally for major brands. The digital foundation of customer-centric contact centers, Calabrio helps enrich and interpret human interactions, enabling the contact center to become the guardian of the brand.
We maximize agent performance, exceed customer expectations and increase workforce efficiency through connected data, AI-powered analytics, automated workforce management and a personalized coaching.
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