IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Customer service agents don't want to return to contact centres
Wed, 22nd Jun 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A new report has revealed that 85% of customer service agents want to work full-time at home and not return to contact centre offices.

According to AI cloud company ASAPP's CX Report: Is the Future of Service at Home?, contact centre operations are rethinking how to make their agents more successful, which requires a whole new way of thinking and operating.

"This will need a new investment in technologies that transform contact centre agents productivity beyond the constraints of incremental technology. Appealing to the 85% of agents that want to work from home could stave off competition for employees from other industries and help reduce recruitment costs and attrition rates," says Macario Namie ASAPP chief strategy officer.

Contact centers have the biggest opportunity in decades to advance agent productivity with artificial intelligence technology, new automation processes and workflows, which can also support CX workforce demands wherever they work. With an estimated $15 billion spent in the United States annually for contact centre real estate - that is unwanted, and unused - monies could be repurposed into new technology investments.

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people working in customer service has increased 53% over the last 20 years to approximately 3 million people, with 15M estimated globally. Legacy contact centre technology has over-promised and under-delivered in providing effective automation, cost savings and productivity over the last 20 years," says Namie.

"According to the latest ASAPP CX report almost nine out of ten agents want to see more aspects of customer interactions automated.

"Now with AI Native technology, automation is becoming easier to build and integrate with company systems. Automation should not be viewed as exclusively the domain of containment and deflection. In fact, automation can be fused to the live agent interaction to make the experience for companies, employees and customers significantly better," he says.

What do Agents Want Automated in Their Customer Interactions?

  • Conversation Summarisation/ Disposition Notes 41%
  • Knowledge Search 38%
  • Address Change 32%
  • Bill Payment 30%

Telephone support is the costliest channel for contact centre operations, and it limits agents to handling one customer at a time. Over the last two decades deflection technologies such as virtual assistants and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have helped redirect customers to chat and messaging channels that increase the number of customers an agent can handle at one time, yet only half of agents believe chat and messaging has improved their jobs.

To help increase agent usage of chat and messaging, and therefore increase the numbers of customers an agent can handle at one time, companies should consider messaging that automates message crafting, routine tasks and summary notes along with improved training and automation that increases usage and performance metrics.

How agents interact with customers

  • 93% of agents use the telephone
  • 60% of agents use email
  • 43% use chat or messaging
  • 29% use video conferencing

"While legacy vendors focus on containing and deflecting customer interactions, better designed technology and more training will be required to increase adoption of non-voice channels if companies want to scale customer support more affordably," says Namie.