How agent desktops prevent good service

by • August 4, 2015 • The Science BitComments (0)1797

Imagine you’re a call centre manager. You’ve got great agent retention, your people are skilled and motivated, and you’re meeting your targets. You’re one of the lucky ones. But under the surface, your teams are stressed to the eyeballs. What’s going wrong? I visited a contact center with exactly this issue recently.

Average retention

Average agent retention here is five years or more, partly because there are few other employment options locally. Which is just as well, because training time for new colleagues is actually pretty high. There’s a lot to learn. Each agent has around twenty different systems on their agent desktop, with different processes in each, and different passwords to remember. Some people arrive up to half an hour early, just to log in to all these systems and set up their desktop before their shift starts.

Software freezes

And with the amount of load those desktop PCs are handling, breakdowns and freezes are commonplace. The whole login process can be repeated several times a day to restart tools or unfreeze windows. Then there are the processes that simply aren’t supported by technology. In this contact centre, callbacks are noted down on a piece of paper and left in the agent’s locker overnight. If the agent isn’t in the next day, they have to find a colleague to make the callback – or tell the customer their promised callback won’t happen – or just miss it and wait for the frustrated customer to call and complain.

Communication breakdown

Things are just as stressful for the team leaders. Any changes to daily processes, shifts, or emergency messages have to be communicated to each agent individually, face to face or on paper – there’s no instant messenger, no group chat. The same applies for agent performance: each team member’s stats have to be communicated in person, which is no bad thing, but the team leader first has to get the stats from a handful of different systems and laboriously paste them together, being careful to remember the different sorting orders of each data set. One small error, and everyone gets the wrong performance results.

The dream workforce

Fortunately, at this contact centre, most of the team members are pretty self-sufficient. These customer service reps know their business and how to keep their callers happy. They get good customer satisfaction scores, and they are motivated to meet their targets every day, week, month. This is a workforce most call centre managers can only dream of. But most of the time they are clicking from screen to screen, apologising for putting the caller on hold, while they restart flaky old systems and navigate the dozens of internal processes needed to resolve a customer’s issue. Their days are long and stressful, and their frequent absences are not surprising.

The universal agent with a single unified agent desktop

Imagine if you could give them a single unified desktop, with a consistent look and feel, which managed their passwords, allowed them to chat with their supervisors, showed them when escalation teams or back office staff were busy, allowed them to schedule automatic callbacks, and gave them real-time feedback on their performance for this shift or this month. How much more efficient could they be? How much less stressed would the managers be? How much better would everyone in the contact centre feel? And how much more loyal and satisfied would your customers become?

In my opinion, cluttered agent desktops are one of the biggest drivers of frustration among teams, and providing a unified desktop that is fit for purpose is one of the best things you can do for your workforce.

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