And The Survey Says! We Must Empower Our Agents.

Another week, another city. Today I am writing you from the Windy City at the ICMI Contact Center Demo & Conference, and so far it has been a great show. ICMI Senior Analyst Justin Robbins kicked the day off with a keynote teasing just a few of the findings from a recent survey. LiveOps and ICMI teamed up to get to the bottom of the challenges today’s contact center faces and what tools contact center managers and agents wish they had in order to deliver better customer service, improve customer experiences and to have the greatest positive impact on the customer journey overall. We just finished gathering responses last Monday and this was my first time hearing the preliminary results of our research, so I was feverishly taking notes in order to pass them along.

First, in no particular order, are the top 10 challenges facing today’s contact center:

  1. Turning all our data into actionable data
  2. Increasing agent productivity/efficiency
  3. Building relationships with executive management/leadership
  4. Implementing new technologies
  5. Consistently meeting KPIs/SLAs
  6. Employee engagement and morale
  7. Improving customer satisfaction ratings/scores
  8. Employee training
  9. Integrating our existing IT systems
  10. Securing expenditure for new technologies

Justin also shared some pretty surprising statistics. As he pointed out, it should not come as a surprise just how important agents are along the customer journey. After all, they are the front line of most organizations. But what was shocking, or perhaps even alarming, is that the majority of respondents do not empower their agents to provide the best customer experience. While 62 percent of respondents believe that the agent is the most critical touch point in the customer journey, only 27 percent say that their agents are very empowered to make decisions to provide the best customer experience. How can this be? Why are agents being held back? Shouldn’t first responders be equipped to aid and assist those in need?

Also startling and disheartening, 69 percent consider their customers to be just “moderately engaged” with their companies. Justin compared this idea of being moderately engaged to drinking a cup of room temperature coffee. It’s not exactly cold, but you’d pass it up for a nice, hot cup in a heartbeat. This does not bode well for customer loyalty or the hope of customers becoming brand advocates. Essentially, the majority of customers are viewing their relationships with brands as disposable. Not good.

These results are just the tip of the research iceberg, and I am looking forward to really digging down into the rest of the findings so that we can develop solutions for the evident issues in the contact centers of today. Let’s fix this!