As the new generations enter professional life and digitalisation allows for new possibilities, attitudes and expectations have become increasingly focused on the individual. We are now in a situation where an individual has to be given more power to decide where and when they want to work.
When talking about outstanding customer experience and world-class customer service quality, we often overlook one crucial factor that significantly impacts this: the customer service agents' satisfaction with their job.
An individual has to be given more power to decide where and when they want to work.
How to tackle the dilemma between the support agents’ own employee satisfaction and end-customer satisfaction?
Who wants to work weekends?
Based on my 20 years of experience, one of the biggest challenges in customer operations tends to be making the agent’s own wishes and availability meet the needs of the customer service: the service hours. The working hours can be a dealbreaker.
This is a common trend. According to the 2022 NICE WEM Global Survey, contact centers in the US and UK were seeing an average attrition rate of 42%, and larger ones even as high as a shocking 50%. More flexible working hours and better access to remote work were some of the main reasons for contact center staff to leave their job for better opportunities.
Keeping customers happy takes flexibility.
To meet customer needs and expectations, the service hours often extend to evenings, nights, weekends, and public holidays. The resourcing of these less desirable, and sometimes irregular shifts can be a challenge and it takes both part- and full-time staff, as well as people in different life situations.
There have been many times that I have been recruiting part-time staff for contact centers, and found that the candidates weren’t able to commit to working when needed after all. Something always came up, such as evening lectures, sports practices, etc. Also when recruiting full-time staff, I have often heard the disclaimer “Just so you know, I won’t be able to work after 4 pm”.
Now, there’s a problem. Keeping customers happy takes flexibility.
Is the customer happy once they get service?
Besides the working hours, another ungrateful part of a customer service agent’s job is dealing with the result of resourcing done poorly. After having had to queue for too long, the customer isn’t going to be happy even when they finally do get service.
In many cases, the end customer enters the chat already dissatisfied with the service they haven’t yet received. They may start the conversation with something like “Hell of a long wait that was”, or “Why on earth can’t you sort your queuing system out?”, to put it nicely.
This doesn’t set a great foundation for the customer encounter to begin with and makes it difficult for the customer service agent to retrieve the situation. They can do little but apologise and try their best to change the course of the conversation.
The customer enters the chat already dissatisfied with the service they haven’t yet received.
Repeatedly finding yourself in these situations is enough to discourage the best of us, and I know many people who have had enough and quit because of it.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
Centralised, flexible customer service organisation
Picture a situation where we can use technology to tackle these resourcing challenges in a way that has a direct impact on employee satisfaction and therefore their now high turnover rate.
The Salesforce IDC Survey of January 2022 shows that out of the hundreds of EMEA business decision-makers surveyed,
66% say improved employee experience translates into higher customer satisfaction.
85% say improved employee experience performance metrics positively impact CX. Furthermore,
88% say that technology and data play a vital role in delivering customer experience.
It is now possible for global organisations to serve their customers without the limitations of language barriers or time zones, so that any of their agents can serve any customer at any time. This can be done by streamlining the communications through digital channels and automatically translating the correspondence between the agent and the client in real time.
Any of their agents can serve any customer at any time.
The previously meticulously constructed jigsaw puzzle of resources across different regions and countries can be turned into one centralised customer service organisation.
As a result, you can allow your staff to have the flexibility they need while knowing that the end customers will be getting better, faster, and happier customer service.
What we have here is the ideal situation where everyone wins – the end customer, the staff, and the company.
Do you have similar experiences with coordinating and managing customer service resources?
Get in touch so that we can help you resolve those challenges!
Author: Pekka Leppänen, Account Executive, with 20 years of experience in customer service operations.