Customer service is a tough industry, and the contact center industry in particular is notorious for employee burnout. It’s been well documented in formal workplace studies that customer service representatives are subject to a high amount of stress, which can be attributed to the repetitiveness of the work, the emotional nature of caller interactions, the pressure to hit performance targets, and the often-strict constraints on handle time.
For employers, finding ways to mitigate these stressors can lead to significant improvements in agent morale, which are tied to a number of positive business outcomes. In an extensive body of research, Gallup studied the impact of employee engagement on the performance of organizations, and what they found was shocking.
Agent burnout costs money
Agent burnout is a common, and costly, phenomenon. According to Gallup, compared to firms that ranked in the bottom quartile for employee engagement, those in the top quartile were 23% more profitable, had 81% fewer absences, and experienced between 18 and 43% lower attrition rates. The morale differences also appeared to bleed into the customer base; customers of firms with highly-engaged workers were 10% more loyal than those whose workers were disengaged from their jobs.
As your front-line public-facing representatives, your agents are some of your most valuable brand ambassadors. So, it pays to invest in keeping their engagement high through a positive agent experience.
Here are four ways you can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to boost agent morale.
4 Ways To Combine AI and the Agent Experience to Boost Morale
1. Provide Ample Training Opportunities
In an eye-opening study, researchers gathered data on more than 300 employees of an Italian call center. Specifically, they were looking to identify ways to increase agents’ job satisfaction and reduce turnover.
One of the major opportunities they found was in providing more thorough employee development, not only for the technical duties of the job but for the emotional aspect of dealing with customers. Your contact center software can be a major asset in providing such training.
Leverage features like screen and voice recording to capture agent interactions, then use AI-powered tools like automated scorecards to assess each interaction based on the customer’s sentiment and the outcome of the call. Turn your highest-scoring calls into detail-rich training resources that can be distributed amongst teams and used by managers to provide targeted coaching.
This not only improves agent skill sets, but boosts their confidence which contributes to greater on-the-job satisfaction.
2. Arm Agents with Data
For a customer, one of the most frustrating parts of calling into a customer service center is having to repeat their problem over and over again. It’s no less frustrating for the agent on the receiving end of the call, who then has to deal with the fallout.
Empower agents with the data they need to properly service every call by using intelligent matching to pair the caller’s phone number with their existing customer record. This gives the agent an instant overview of past interactions, eliminating the need for the caller to give a play-by-play to bring them up to speed.
Instead, the agent can immediately dive in and start working on the problem, which breeds a sense of empowerment and ownership over their role in the customer experience.
3. Use AI Tools to Manage Call Volume
You’re well aware that your customers expect timely, effective solutions to their problems. Where you may be falling short, though, is in providing them the right channels to solve those problems. Doing so not only increases customer satisfaction, but alleviates some of the burden on your human agents.
With AI-enabled tools like conversational IVR, virtual agents, and webchat customers can self-resolve simple issues quickly, decreasing the volume of calls routed to live agents. For queries that do require a human element, use intelligent call routing to connect customers with the most appropriate agent on the first interaction.
The agent is more satisfied when they have the right knowledge to resolve the issue, while the caller is satisfied to have their problem solved quickly.
4. Leverage Sentiment Analysis To Escalate Calls When Necessary
Strong management is another big component in boosting employee morale. In fact, managers account for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.
According to Gallup, workers whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than those whose managers struggle with these same tasks. This means call center management can make a big difference in the morale of their teams by providing sufficient support to them.
A call center software with sentiment analysis uses AI to gauge the sentiment of agents and customers on every call. By pairing this analysis with keyword information and other call metadata, you can identify when an interaction has potentially gone astray and escalate it to the appropriate supervisor. In addition to aiding with quality control, this creates a valuable coaching opportunity which further feeds into the positive forms of employee development we discussed in item #1.
An AI-driven contact center solution can help you make big strides toward improving agent morale, which, in turn, can lead to increased productivity, lower turnover, and more profitable operations.