If you’re a customer service leader and the Great Resignation doesn’t have you shaking in your boots, it should. We know that employee churn has always been a hot topic in customer service, but the pandemic has spurred on a never-before-seen reckoning when it comes to employee retention and satisfaction.
What Is the Great Resignation?
Employees who may have “stuck it out” in jobs they didn’t love before the pandemic are now quitting in droves. Call it an awakening or call it a revolution –– you can certainly call it an exodus. “The number of Americans quitting has now exceeded pre-pandemic highs for eight straight months, as employers, especially in low-wage sectors, are struggling to fill open positions” – World Economic Forum.
And it’s not just an American trend. “Data collated by the OECD, which groups most of the advanced industrial democracies, shows that in its 38 member countries, about 20 million fewer people are in work than before the coronavirus struck,” writes Politico Europe. “Of these, 14 million have exited the labor market and are classified as ‘not working’ and ‘not looking for work.’ Compared to 2019, 3 million more young people are not in employment, education or training.”
Okay. But how do customer service agents fit into this?
Well, no one ever claimed that being an agent was easy, but Dixa’s latest research into the agent experience makes this abundantly clear. We surveyed 1500 customer service agents in the U.S. and U.K., and:
- a whopping 79% of agents feel that their workload is too heavy,
- while 64% characterize their job as stressful,
- 51% don’t feel supported by their manager,
- and 59% lack the knowledge to provide better customer service.
This paints a rather grim picture when it comes to agent churn risk. And with new research from Gartner showing that, on average, it takes $14,113 to hire and train a new agent, this isn’t just a morale problem but a money problem.
It’s time for future-thinking brands to recognize customer service agents as the important players they are and put a stop to the endless cycle of hiring and training new agents.
Whether you’ve hired a famous spokesperson or currently employ a cute dog as your brand representative, the reality is your customer service agents are the true face of your brand. They shape your customer experience –– equally capable of winning hearts and minds or sending customers running into the open arms of competitors. It should go without saying that improving your agent experience will have a positive impact on your customer experience as well.
Let’s get to it.
3 Strategies to Improve the Agent Experience & Unlock Your Team’s Potential
1. Empower Your Agents
This starts with creating opportunities for career development and advancement in your organization. You’ll never get a better manager or director than someone who’s been on the frontlines of your customer experience and knows the day-to-day ins, outs, and challenges that agents face. And when agents see opportunities for learning and growth, they’ll become more engaged and stick around for longer.
No one likes to be micro-managed. Give agents the autonomy to make decisions that deliver value for customers and the brand. They shouldn’t need to check in with a manager to send a disappointed customer a free item, discount code, or a refund. Give them room to creatively problem solve. A handwritten postcard with a free sample of an about-to-be-released whatever, and I’m ready to forgive my beauty subscription box provider for messing up my order. Enlist your agents as collaborators and partners and reward them for going above-and-beyond.
2. Give the Gift of Collaborative Knowledge
Knowledge is power, and collaboration is magic. Give your agents access to a centralized knowledge base that reduces the need for them to chase information and allows them to share their knowledge with their colleagues.
A recent survey by Dixa showed 70% of agents spend time searching through internal files and folders to locate knowledge that will help them solve customer queries. Put a stop to this with an intelligent knowledge base that uses machine learning to automatically send prompts to agents based on the content of a customer’s question. Agents should be able to capture and store important information in one centralized, easy-to-access location. Plus, onboarding new agents becomes faster, and you’ll avoid losing access to valuable knowledge when a team member does decide to depart.
3. Get Rid of Micro-Decisions
Right now, your agents are likely stuck using tools and processes that don’t live up to the demands of the job. Constant fire-fighting, plus energy spent on hundreds of microdecisions a day, can make for a high-stress environment. And to make matters worse, this environment is often characterized by fatigue, competition, repetitive tasks, and very few rewarding experiences. How do you improve this?
Start with your tech. Begin to automate mindless, repetitive tasks, and allow your agents to focus on customer inquiries that will create the most value, rather than answering requests that, quite frankly, a chatbot could answer. If your agents are still spending time looking through a shared inbox, turn to an intelligent offering system that will route customer questions to the right agent based on context. Win-win –– you no longer need to worry about cherry-picking, and your agents no longer need to spend time deciding which question to answer next. And your customers? They get faster, more reliable answers. Win-win-win.
Become an Agent of Change in Your Organization
By giving agents license to solve customer problems creatively, and technology that makes their jobs easier, you’ll be able to hold on to your team for longer and improve your customer experience while you’re at it. Simply put, happy agents make happy customers. If you’re ready to become an agent of change in your organization, read our latest ebook or get in touch to see how Dixa can overhaul your agent experience.