After 30 years working in and around contact centres and the companies which sell tech to them I have the answer.
It’s painfully simple, but because it requires dealing with subjects most contact centre vendors, their partners and IT managers are ill equipped to deal with, it’s often missed or not given the attention it deserves.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at contact centre technology companies, these organisations spend a huge amount of time and money trying to bring new features to market before their competition, then they convince their partners that these short lived USPs will solve contact centre problems. The reality is the real challenges facing contact centres almost always stem from workforce related issues like: absenteeism, disengagement and staff turnover.
“Which has the biggest impact on success of contact centres, meeting the needs of the IT Manager or meeting the needs of the agents?”
It’s much easier to buy new technology than it is to take a good hard look at why employees (agents) are stressed, feel unappreciated and are disengaged, and make the necessary changes to address these issues.
You could compare it to health; most people would rather take a tablet as an alternative to a change in lifestyle, even though this approach will often increase the chances of disease in later life. The same can be said for contact centres!
The UK Customer Satisfaction Index[i] recently announced their results for 2020 at 76.9, 0.8 points lower than in January 2019 and its lowest level since July 2015!!
Other studies which look at employee engagement and satisfaction also report little or no improvement, meaning the contact centre industry as a whole has a serious problem – the tech is not doing what customers expect it to do.
The answer is both the responsibility of the companies who buy contact centre tech and those who supply it. In fact the contact centre industry as whole must start to tackle workforce issues, because unless the human beings (agents) delivering service to customers have a damn good reason to work harder, make less mistakes and take less time off, they simply won’t. This is happening all the time; nothing is changing, customers remain frustrated, staff turnover rates remain high and technology alone is unable to counteract these problems.
Buyers have the biggest impact on the way contact centre solutions are sold. Demanding help with key issues like employee engagement and other damaging workforce issues will allow you to find partners who have the skills and knowledge to deliver real change for you (we are fortunate enough to work with some of these companies), more importantly by demanding help in these areas you force those companies who skirt around workforce issues to change.
Including your CS teams in the selection process is another powerful way to force vendors to deliver the knowledge and tools you need to succeed.
I am proud that SJS is part of the answer, but I worry that this downward trend in customer satisfaction and dismal employee engagement results will continue, and companies will continue to spend millions to simply stand still or get worse at keeping their customers happy.
If like me you want to see change, all you’ll need is a basic understanding of neuroscience and to treat your agents in a way that makes it easy for them to do their best for you. Getting started doesn’t have to be complicated but the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll feel the benefits. This employee centric approach will then force the contact centre tech companies who claim to “improve customer experience” to place the needs of your agents front and centre. Thank you and good luck!
Arrange a free chat with SJS – https://www.sjssolutions.com/contact/
[i] The January 2020 UKCSI results are based on 45,000 survey responses, 3,000 from each sector except for Transport and Utilities which includes 6,000 responses each. Each response is a completed online questionnaire relating to a customer’s experience with a specific organisation. These responses are provided by over 10,000 individual customers. https://www.instituteofcustomerservice.com/research-insight/uk-customer-satisfaction-index
Written by: Stephen Pace, SJS Solutions CEO.