- By Alex Gaw
- June 27, 2022
Two research reports in this roundup bookend an increasingly serious CX issue: how to best ensure the well-being of contact center employees, who are leaving the industry in record numbers for better working conditions, higher pay, and greater personal growth. These departures are clear indicators of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with the establishment status quo throughout the ranks of customer service agents in the US and elsewhere. The rest of the reports deal with perhaps less topical—yet noteworthy—subject matter. Details follow.
ASAPP: Customer Service Agents Do Not Want to Return to Work at Contact Centers
At least 85% of customer service agents wish to work full time at their homes and have no desire to return to work at contact center offices, reveals a new report from ASAPP, the New York-based artificial intelligence (AI) cloud company and research-based provider of software to digitize the call center. In its CX report, Is the Future of Service at Home?, ASAPP asserts that in the face of high agent turnover, contact centers today must reformulate their approach on how and where customer service employees should work.
Macario Namie, chief strategy officer at ASAPP, says new investments in technology will be needed to transform productivity among agents. “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,” Namie declares.
At the same time, contact centers have the biggest opportunity in decades to advance agent productivity, Namie adds. Nearly nine out of 10 agents wish to see more aspects of customer interactions automated. And by deploying together with new automation processes and workflows, the new technologies can help support the CX workforce wherever they work, according to the report.
The estimated $15 billion spent yearly in the US for contact center real estate could also be funneled instead into new technology investments, the report points out, replacing legacy mechanisms that no longer provide effective automation, cost savings, or productivity gains.
eGain: Contact Center Agents Hamstrung by Lack of Proper Tools
Customer service agents at contact centers today find themselves ill equipped to handle customer queries because of the traditional desktop tools they use and a lack of knowledge-based guidance, according to the findings of a new report from eGain, the Silicon Valley-based provider of a platform for automating customer engagement. The State of Agent Experience 2022 contains the findings from a survey of US contact center agents in sectors such as retail, insurance, banking and financial, government, telco, and manufacturing.
Among respondents, 63% say customer queries are becoming more complex, yet 64% point out that they lack the tools or know-how to shepherd the customer interaction process. At least 49% struggle with multiple systems in their search for answers, and stress levels among novice agents are 31% higher than in tenured agents. Overall, 76% still work from home, a percentage that the report finds is high given the easing of COVID restrictions.
“Contact center agents, especially work-from-home reps, do not have the safety net of in-office colleagues for answers,” says Bruce Belfiore, CEO at BenchmarkPortal, the organization that conducted the survey on eGain’s behalf. “It is concerning that most contact centers do not have adequate guidance tools even as customer queries get more complex. However, we also see this as a real opportunity to elevate the agent experience with modern knowledge management,” Belfiore adds.
Telus: Enterprises are Reducing Number of Partnerships with CX Providers
Half of enterprises have reduced their CX provider footprint in the last 12 months through consolidation, forming trusted partnerships with fewer providers to achieve all their CX goals, new research shows from Telus International, the Canadian provider of IT services and multilingual customer service to global clients.
Research containing the results of a global survey of business executives show that 50% of enterprises are in the process of slashing the number of CX providers with whom they have worked during the past year, up from 44% two years ago and from 27% five years ago. At least 44% still use two to three providers, but 51% now engage with just a single provider, the research notes.
The results indicate that many companies no longer seek to diversify their CX partner footprint, preferring instead to use a single provider with the experience and solutions necessary to offer end-to-end services that span the full CX value chain. The shift, analysts say, can be attributed to the wide range of challenges confronting enterprises today, such as the accelerated adoption of technologies by consumers, the increasingly limited internal resources of companies to manage multiple external CX partners, and the lack of in-house digital expertise to design, build, and deliver today’s more complex digital CX solutions and services.
Overall, enterprises want more complex, end-to-end CX services, with 40% of the executives surveyed indicating they would leave a CX provider if it could not provide all of the complex digital CX services that are needed.
Qualtrics: Feelings Trump Other Drivers of Brand Loyalty
Feelings are the number one driver of consumer loyalty—more so than effort or success, new research from the XM Institute at Qualtrics indicates, according to results from the annual US Consumer Benchmark study of more than 9,000 consumers. And yet, brands are not performing as well in that crucial metric, as consumers say they are more likely to succeed or have an easy time accomplishing their goal with a company than feel good about a brand.
The impact of feelings varied by industry. In the health insurance industry, feeling good made consumers 15.6 times more likely to recommend a brand. In streaming media brands, feeling good increased the chances of a recommendation by 6.6 times.
Overall, however, positive feelings or experiences spur loyalty and trust in consumers, translating into brand patronage and sales. For instance, consumers feeling “delighted” by their experience with a brand are 10.3 times more likely to recommend it than those who felt “upset.” Similarly, consumers saying it was “very easy” to interact with a brand are 8.1 times more inclined toward providing recommendations, in the same way that those believing they “completely succeeded” are 6.3 times more apt to recommend a brand. And consumers are nearly five times more likely to both trust and buy more from a company if they have a positive experience instead of a negative one.
Bruce Temkin, head of Qualtrics XM Institute, says brand loyalty is a multifaceted effort, and companies that do not address all the angles associated with brand loyalty risk losing customers. “As the US confronts the possibility of a new economic reality after years of sustained growth, higher prices and fears of a recession will push customers to take stock of where and how they are spending their money, making it critical for brands to deeply understand their customers to keep their business,” Temkin states.
Forrester: CX Index for Canadian Brands Declines 24%
The CX Index among brands in Canada has fallen following three years of stability, with 24% of those brands struggling to maintain CX quality during the past 12 months, according to the report The Canada Customer Experience Index Rankings, 2022 from research and advisory firm Forrester. Using data collected from more than 41,000 Canadian customers across 101 brands and nine industries, the Forrester CX Index rates the quality of customer experiences, assesses customer loyalty, determines the drivers that have the biggest influence on customers’ perceptions of CX quality, and provides a CX benchmark, according to the company’s website page explaining the CX Index rationale and methodology.
While investment firms and retailers both dominated this year’s elite brands — the top 5% of brands in the entire CX Index — the two industries declined in this year’s rankings. CX Index data for Canada further reveals that emotion is the most important dimension of CX quality across industries as it shapes customer trust and engenders brand loyalty. This year’s elite brands — IG Wealth Management, Well.ca, Etsy, RBC Dominion Securities, and CAA Insurance — delivered more than three times as many emotionally positive experiences for customers compared to other brands.
In contrast, customers in the mass market automobile, multichannel bank, credit card, investment firms, and retail industries reported slightly fewer instances of feeling respected, valued, and appreciated — the most impactful positive emotions. Of the six companies that improved most in CX quality, five are in financial services.
“Factors such as supply issues, staffing shortages, and rising costs are contributing to Canadian brands’ problems providing customer experiences at the same level as prior years,” says Rick Parrish, vice president and research director at Forrester.
The fall in Canada’s CX Index was steeper than that in the US, which posted a drop of 19% for the year, reported here as well in a previous roundup.
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