Stop blaming your agents! Five reasons why service is really failing
Posted 12-01-2012 in Blog
We’ve all seen these lists:
- Top tips for keeping contact centre agents fired up
- Create vibrant, happy teams in five easy steps
- Build the call centre of your dreams by patronising intelligent people
For the record, call centre agents don’t need motivation. They don’t come into work intending to get things wrong because like all of us, they are satisfied when they do a good job - this is basic human nature. If we can’t blame the agents, why does service provision continue to fail? Here’s my top five reasons:
1) Antiquated IT
How many times have you called a contact centre and sat on-hold while the agent ‘waited for the page to load’? Similarly, how much time is wasted as agents switch between systems? If your agent is being forced to navigate myriad clunky old legacy systems and type into fields which take ten seconds to register a click, how do you expect them to focus on the call and develop rapport with the customer? Listening to calls doesn’t highlight the scale of this problem so instead trying shadowing some live calls to see how often this issue occurs and how difficult it makes life for the agent. If IT is unable to action a fix, please give agents some more slack.
2) Call queue time wasting
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is supposed to get us to the relevant department faster but in too many cases it is too complicated and puts the caller through to the wrong person anyway. CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) has also got a bad reputation by demanding that callers give an account number/password but failing to screen pop the details to the agent, forcing the agent to repeat themselves. Combine the two technologies and all you’ve succeeded doing is making the call longer and the customer irate, with agents are left to pick up the pieces. What chance do they have? Pre-call technologies need to perform. If they don’t, rip them out.
3) Too much management
Do you work best when:
a) You have clearly defined targets and goals, are left to work in the way that best suits you, but with support available if you need it?
b) You have someone scrutinising your every move, with your real time performance metrics being constantly displayed in lurid dot matrix red for all in the office to see?
Contact centres by definition are driven largely by numbers, but what job isn’t? Perhaps if we back off, trust our agents and become a support influence, rather than a dictatorial force, our agents will work more effectively.
4) Broken metrics, targets and rewards
You say that customer service and loyalty is your goal. Yet you still target efficiency measures such as calls per hour, average handling time and sales opportunities created. You can bang the drum for call quality all you like, but until you change the targets and rewards you hold so dear, don’t expect agents to deliver anything but the numbers you are holding them to.
5) Failing processes outside the call centre
‘Customer service’ is not an easily packaged deliverable that can be handled by a single department. Businesses known for delivering class-leading customer service are built around these principles, with all departments pulling in the same direction. How many problems which are attributed to the contact centre are caused by failures elsewhere in the business? If you don’t know, then it’s time to start looking into this issue - even minor changes to broken processes can make life much easier for our agents.
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