The current state of the contact center agent is clear, but for those unaware or overlooking this opportunity for improvement: agent attrition rates currently hover around 40%, the cost of replacing just one agent is between $10k-$20k, and 97% of agents are sometimes or almost always burned out. Unengaged employees (undoubtedly including contact center agents) collectively cost $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, or about 11% of the global GDP.
Whether your organization has one or two people handling customer service or a dedicated contact center with hundreds of employees, the quality of the experience of these people serving your customers cannot be overstated. A poor agent experience translates into money lost, resources strained, and inconsistent service. The role of the contact center agents spans well beyond merely picking up a phone. These individuals are undisputed stakeholders of the customer experience (CX) and vital contributors to business success.
Can 2023 be the year we start thinking differently? Avaya predicts organizations will double down on the agent experience in three ways this year:
1. Companies will rethink traditional workforce optimization concepts—driven by a focus on strict adherence to rules and procedures—and embrace a workforce engagement approach.
Instead of being contact answering robots, agents will be encouraged to become creative thinkers, problem solvers, and true brand ambassadors—critical assets for customer experience success. As such, we’ll see workforce engagement (aimed at strengthening the mental and emotional connection agents feel toward the work they do, their teams, and their employer) take its rightful place next to established workforce management solutions in the contact center, which will get their ofaceliftift this year.
This shift is critical for the future of contact center operations. According to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), engaged and satisfied contact center employees are 8.5x more likely to stay than leave within a year, 16x more likely to refer friends to their company, and 3.3x more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues.
2. We can expect to see the continuation of a mindset shift at the managerial level in terms of agent criticality.
The average hourly salary of a contact center agent in the U.S. is $16.62, according to Indeed.com, with this rate being as high as $21.75 in states like California and New York. In California, positions including IT Technicians, Maintenance Technicians, and Certified Nursing Assistants have similar hourly rates.
The job of a contact center agent requires a highly skilled individual who can creatively problem solve, effectively communicate, and positively influence; an impactful role for those up for the challenge. These individuals must be invested in and supported long-term just as workers in other industries, including targeted, customized training and education and the potential for raises and bonuses. Avaya expects more contact center managers to embrace this perspective and act accordingly.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be massive for contact center communications over the next 12 months.
Avaya expects more organizations to apply AI to their contact center operations and customer communications in 2023. Doing so will reduce customer wait times (estimated to have tripled during the pandemic), improve the delivery and accuracy of content knowledge so agents can more meaningfully impact CX and influence next best action, and reduce agent busywork (ex: using AI-powered transcription to auto populate transcribed text files into the notes section of CRM records).
One of the most hard-hitting statistics comes from Gartner: 10% of all contact center interactions will be automated using AI-powered solutions by 2026, compared to only 2% currently, saving organizations approximately $80 billion per year in labor costs.
Prepare for the agent experience with these resources from Avaya: