How Employee Engagement Can Reduce Agent Turnover

How Employee Engagement Can Reduce Agent Turnover

With so much focus on the customer journey, it’s easy to forget that contact center agents have their own journeys, too. According to ICMI, more than 40% of contact centers estimate that agent turnover comes with a cost of more than $25,000 annually. It’s impossible to prevent all agent turnover, but some causes can be addressed and prevented. The happier agents are, the better their customer service will be.

Compare Management Practices

Your contact center’s business practices – such as benefits, salary and schedules – need to match or beat industry standards. If an employee knows they’ll get higher pay and a more flexible schedule at a different contact center, or at most other contact centers, their focus will be on getting a job elsewhere.

Give Additional Responsibilities

For an employee to value their job, they have to feel like they are doing something valuable. Giving your agents responsibilities from the very beginning lets them know that they’re an integral part of the team. Expectations should be clearly defined and they should know who they can go to when they have a question, concern or suggestion.

Setup a Rewards Program

Contact center agents should be recognized and rewarded when they do an outstanding job. A rewards program can motivate employees to continually strive to do better. By creating incentives, agents will be more engaged with their work and their job satisfaction will increase.

Support Each Agent’s Career Path

Managers need to understand that each employee is going to have their own set of goals. Instead of expecting every person to stay in the role they started in, it’s better for both the agent and the company to create an environment where there are promotion opportunities. Open positions should always be filled internally whenever possible. When an employee knows they’re working towards something, like a better role in the contact center, they’ll be encouraged to work harder to show that they’re the right person for the promotion.

Hiring agents is undoubtedly expensive. Costs include screening, recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training. If the agent provides poor customer service, that’s another hidden cost, one that’s difficult to measure but no less important. Once you have a new contact center agent on board, it’s important to keep them happy, engaged and informed. Aim to keep them content with their job so they will continue to work hard for you.

Evolution of the Contact Center


By Guest Blogger,  Max Ball, Product Marketing, Virtual Contact Center at 8×8, Inc.

Maintaining a positive relationship with your customers is incredibly important, and a single, bad contact center experience can result in the loss of permanent business. Contact centers are exposed here, and as a result, companies might hesitate to make any significant changes- if it’s not broken why fix it? The sole objective for any contact center involves improving customer engagement.  So if customers seem satisfied, why throw a wrench into the works?

However, a recent Accenture Strategy report titled, “Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement”, found that once a provider loses a customer, 68% of consumers will not go back, with 83% reporting that if companies could provide customers with better live or in-person customer service, it would have impacted their decision to switch provider. This has resulted in more and more organizations coming to the realization that they have no option but to adapt to changes in customer behavior caused by the proliferation of new technologies that impact how consumers want to be serviced, through the channel of their choice. Here are three reasons why contact centers need to evolve to meet these needs, and why it’s beneficial to do so:

To embrace new technologies

While many contact centers utilize standard technologies such as Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the move to cloud is making new innovations more easily accessible- such as adding channels seamlessly or integrating with CRM and Workforce Optimization (WFO) systems–and redefining the concept of a traditional contact center.

Cloud-based contact centers have proven to be invaluable in eliminating maintenance headaches and increasing productivity. In addition they’ve enabled companies to more easily scale and grow globally and adapt to a rapid increase in customer demand—without burdening Contact Center Operations and IT workloads. This is a key reason why increasingly companies are moving their contact centers to the cloud.

In fact, DMG Consulting projects that the number of cloud-based contact center infrastructure seats will grow by 25 percent in 2016 and 2017. IDC expects similar growth, stating that U.S. spending on cloud contact center services will increase at a CAGR of 17.7% to $2 billion in 2019.

To expand across borders

Up until a few years ago, if a company needed support outside the U.S., they would have to open an international contact center or outsource to overseas agents. Today, companies have offices, contact centers and remote workers around the world, and this trend will only continue. With cloud, companies can easily deliver always on, 24/7, follow-the-sun, global support, without sacrificing audio clarity, lag times or delays that so often plague international connections. This allows businesses to provide service whenever, wherever and however a customer wants. If your contact center doesn’t operate in this way, you risk compromising company growth opportunities.

To transform work

Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen in the contact center is a direct result of the changing nature of work. Today’s workers no longer operate in silos. Mobility, BYOD policies, the cloud and increased security have enabled workers to do their jobs from anywhere. In fact, 45 percent of U.S. employees work from home and IDC predicts that the U.S. mobile worker population will continue to grow, increasing from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020.

The contact center has evolved with this nature of the global, remote workplace. Today’s contact center no longer looks like a row of people sitting at desks and talking into headsets at a single location. Now, it’s multiple locations around the world as well as someone standing on the showroom floor in Peoria or sitting in a Paris cafe chatting with customers via their tablet or laptops and answering calls on their smartphone. The benefit? Giving agents the freedom to be flexible not only boosts their morale, but also their productivity.

Contemplating changes to the way you manage customer interactions can be intimidating due to fear of the unknown and not knowing how customers will react. However, as companies and customer support departments embrace these new demands from their customers, society and/or advances in technology, they’ll reap the rewards of more engaged customers, which ultimately impacts the bottom line.




Gaining new customers is great. Turning them into loyal customers, though, is the ultimate goal. Customer loyalty requires more than basic customer satisfaction. Regularly delivering a gratifying customer experience is what ultimately creates loyalty. Here are three clever ways for the contact center to build dependable customer relationships.

  1. Reward Current Brand Ambassadors

There are plenty of brands out there that strive to attract new brand ambassadors to their program. What about all of those customers who are already acting as brand ambassadors without you even realizing it, though? Instead of attracting customers to the program, bring the program to them. Use social media listening tools to find out who’s talking about your brand, product or service. Reach out to those people to offer them incentives, like discounts, free swag or membership in a referral or loyalty program.

  1. Celebrate Customer Birthdays

Instead of simply asking for a customer’s first name and email address when they sign-up for your online portal or mailing list, have them also enter their birthday month and day. When their special day rolls around, send them something fun, celebratory and useful, like a colorful e-card with free shipping or a promo code inside. Not only will you commemorate the day, but you’ll also increase the opportunity to make a sale by giving them an offer they can act on right away.

  1. Offer a True Omni-Channel Experience

The omni-channel customer experience is becoming a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that every company out there is handling it seamlessly. Some brands claim to embrace omni-channel support, but when the customer needs to switch from one contact method to another, they’re stuck having to explain their situation from the beginning. Other companies have truly nailed down the omni-channel approach, though. Best Buy is a great example of a company that appeals to customers on their preferred platform. In-store and online operations are merged, allowing customers to shop and purchase online, then pick up their order in their nearby store.

Some brands find that creating customer loyalty comes easy. Others have to be more proactive to build customer relationships. Once you’ve given customers the basis of an excellent product or service, it’s time to nurture the relationship. Bonding with each customer and show them the many benefits to returning to your brand over and over.

How Speech Analytics Affect the Outcome of Calls

By the time a customer has contacted a live agent, they’ve probably tried to troubleshoot the problem on their own with self-service tools. When they’ve reached the point of wanting to speak with someone, they’re already part of the way through their customer journey. Real-time speech analytics take into account customer history so they can pick up where they left off instead of starting from the beginning.

Real-time speech analytics help agents determine the right thing to say to a customer in the moment in a variety of situations. On top of making sure the customer is directed to the correct agent or department, this technology also gives agents the current, relevant information they need to solve the customer’s problem. Examples of up-to-the-minute information agents will receive include:

  • Issues that are trending on social media.
  • Topics customers are currently calling about the most.
  • Recent updates to products or services.

Real-time speech analytics technology, combined with information being fed to agents in the moment, means that the customer support offered will be tailored to the individual.

Management can program speech analytics to choose agent scripts based on specific speech cues. Software is able to identify words and phrases that are present as well as those that are absent. The software also takes into account sentiment; the point in a call when a word or phrase is said; and the absence of a word or phrase when it should have been said. On top of improving the course of a call while an agent is on the phone, speech analytics can also pinpoint larger gaps in training and find areas for improvement.

The best speech analytics technology will understand the context of a conversation in order to appropriately guide the agent. Customer calls are analyzed in real-time and conversational indicators make it possible for agents to proactively handle a call in a way that’s highly beneficial to the customer.

Advanced speech analytics software helps contact centers in a number of ways. It increases first call resolution and improves the customer experience. It monitors agents for regulation compliance and adherence to company policies. Agents can also use real-time speech analytics to recognize and take advantage of sales opportunities.

How to Determine Whether a Contact Center Enhances the Customer Experience…or Detracts from it

It’s no secret …every time that a customer is involved with a company, they are evaluating whether to continue doing business with it. This makes every interaction critical, whether it’s a simple transactional exchange or high-impact conversation. Each interaction provides an opportunity to deliver the best possible customer experience, but it also presents the danger of a creating a negative impression that permanently damages the relationship. The contact center is of course the pivotal point of that customer journey. When agents don’t have the right tools, a business doesn’t just miss out on the chance to make a good impression, it could actually lose customers.

But how can an organization objectively and accurately evaluate how effective their contact center solution is in enabling a superior customer experience? Factors that need to be taken into consideration include:

  • Channel capabilities. Are customers able to reach out to the business via a variety of key methods, beyond just voice and IVR, such as web, chat email, text, social media and mobile? Are there preference management options in place that allow customers to consistently access their channel of choice? Are agents trained to guide interactions through multiple contact channels?
  • Convenience/speed/self-service. Does the IVR recognize callers based on their phone number? Does it use Natural Language to better understand responses? Do agents have access to all necessary data, such as account information and contact history, across all channels? Is first contact resolution currently being measured and if so, how high is the rate?
  • Caller satisfaction/Customer journey. Are customer expectations as they apply to the contact center being analyzed? Is customer satisfaction currently being measured? Is agent performance being tracked as it relates to stated business objectives? Is the customer journey being mapped and if so, are common customer pain points and key moments being identified?

No two organizations will have the same answers to these questions. Almost all companies operate at a different level of technology. But every business can benefit from gaining a comprehensive overview of the experience its contact center provides, and from exploring the many ways it can be improved. Take part in a complimentary interactive workshop  that will offer an individualized internal analysis which can be used to help plan for necessary improvements.

It’s Time to Embrace Digital Channels and Build Smart Help


By Patrick Gallagher, Managing Director ANZ & North Asia

In my over 30 years of involvement in contact centres, IVR and customer experience applications, I’ve experienced companies investing millions in their contact centres to provide support to customers calling to purchase, enquire, complain, apply or seek assistance. Traditionally this has been the ‘tried-and-tested’ option as companies continued to invest in their contact centre in order to build their customer support capability. But, as customers have moved to digital channels, this approach is no longer enabling organisations to meet their customers’ expectations.

I drew on this experience in my recent Executive Interview with CRMXchange to discuss the growing popularity of online self-service and ensuring customers can resolve issues with minimal effort. It’s key for organisations to recognise that it’s more than just support today’s online customers want. They expect to purchase, enquire, complain, apply and get help effortlessly online. This means companies need to embrace the digital channels and build smart help online, not force customers to use a traditional search tool that returns pages and pages of results or give customers answers that say ‘To find out about this product, please call the contact centre’. There’s nothing smart about that, and it really creates a poor online experience for customers.

CRMXchange also asked me about using a combination of natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for improving the customer support experience. AI is certainly a hot topic around the world in the customer experience industry, and so I thought it important to share a word of caution about the ‘pure’ AI solutions on the market that are being promoted as virtual agents. While these technologies have a place in driving quantitative analysis of large volumes of data, they are not ready to be deployed for customer service and support. Organisations should look for virtual agents that employ self-learning capabilities, but in a way that still gives them control over the reliability of the responses.

Please check out my full interview for more on these topics as well as delivering personalised experiences to customers, making intelligent virtual agents available across all contact channels and using these solutions to complement the knowledge of live agents. You can also learn more about Creative Virtual’s technology and see our smart help tools in action by requesting a live demo.

My thanks to CRMXchange for the opportunity to participate in their Executive Interview series!

How to Conduct Phone Screen Interviews

How to Conduct Phone Screen Interviews

Traditional interviews are an important part of the hiring process. You can assess an applicant’s body language as they answer questions, cluing you into the type of customer service they offer and how well they’ll mesh with your company culture. However, starting with a short phone screening to quickly interview your best candidates is a smart step to take before sitting down to a longer interview. If you’re crunched for time, you can even ask candidates to record their answers to a series of questions and then listen to them at your convenience.

Complex questions requiring in-depth answers should be saved for the regular interview. The phone screen should be used to get answers to questions about the candidate’s skill set, job expectations and availability. Cover these four things in your phone screenings:

  1. Voice Your Concerns

Bring up any questions you have about the candidate’s resume. You may be impressed by 90% of the resume but still be worried about a glaring omission, like a missing technical skill or a gap in employment history.

  1. Find Out Their Expectations

Ask the candidate what attracted them to apply for the role. You can also request ahead of time that they come prepared with a wish list that includes things like the type of manager they hope to have and their ideal schedule flexibility.

  1. Compare Your Timetables

If you need to fill a role quickly but the applicant still has to give their employer notice, you’ll be short on staff in the interim. On the other hand, if the applicant has already left their job and are desperate for work, you may not be able to make a decision as quickly as they need one.

  1. Ask About Their Job Search

If you feel that the candidate is someone you want to hire, find out where they are in the job search process. A high-caliber candidate may have already received a job offer from another company, which means you’ll want to move forward quickly in order to get them on your team.

Aim to keep your phone screen under 30 minutes. Ask the same questions in the same order so that it’s easy to compare candidates once the screenings are complete. However, if you know by answer three that the applicant isn’t a good match, it’s fine to end the screening early.

How Contact Centers Use RPA

Robotic process automation (RPA) covers an assortment of advanced, intelligent tools that can carry out a variety of routine tasks. RPA systems are programmed to automate repetitive and rules-based actions that are normally performed manually by contact center agents. While these tasks are integral to the contact center as they help with essential functions, agents are most valuable when they can spend their time on more urgent and complex issues.

How Does RPA Work?

RPA integrates with contact center systems to catch and understand how various applications work. The RPA software is then taught to interpret different processes, such as processing certain types of transactions and triggering responses. RPA technology uses different tools to capture this digital data, such as image recognition and server access. Since RPA works at an interface level, it rarely needs IT support.

What Can You Automate with RPA?

There are a host of processes to automate with RPA. Everything from updating customer mailing addresses and order history to handling time-sensitive transactions for high-value customers can be programmed. While RPA has more in common with artificial intelligence than standard automation, it works best with processes that are defined, repetitious and rules-based. RPA can complete the following types of tasks:

  • Bill customers
  • Close fraudulent accounts
  • Compliance reporting
  • Order processing
  • Override transactions for VIP customers
  • Resolve disputes and complaints
  • Send shipping notifications
  • Update client profiles

RPA can also be programmed to carry out industry-specific tasks. For example, an insurance company may use RPA to generate renewal premiums and process claims. A bank could program RPA to process overdraft protection requests and credit applications. In the healthcare industry, RPA is used to register patients and verify credentials of healthcare providers. Human Resources departments can use RPA to manage W4 forms.

Will RPA Replace Live Workers?

There’s a lot of concern over whether or not RPA will impact staffing. It’s undeniable that RPA has numerous benefits for the contact center. It reduces agent workload, boosts efficiency and eliminates the risk of human error. The contact center overall enjoys a higher ROI and lower training costs. Customer interaction times are reduced and the customer experience as a whole is enhanced. While the answer depends on each specific company, some feel that instead of cutting down their staff, RPA is most useful because it allows companies to handle a higher work volume.

How Omni-lingual Support Enhances Today’s Global Customer Experiences

Shifting consumer expectations are putting more pressure on brands to provide seamless and relevant customer experiences. Tom Tseki, Vice President and General Manager, GeoFluent & Customer Care Solutions at Lionbridge explores how contact centers can adapt and meet customer needs by incorporating omni-lingual support into their strategies

In today’s shifting technological landscape, the expectations that consumers have when interacting with a brand are constantly changing. Voice has given way to self-service, and consumers are counting on real-time or near real-time service. At the same time, consumers increasingly prefer to learn, shop and transact in their native language and expect that brands communicate with them in that way. In fact, a recent study from Common Sense Advisory showed that 84 percent of consumers are more inclined to purchase products online when related information was presented in their own language.

This change in consumer behavior is also forcing brands and their contact centers to look at new and innovative ways to create quality customer experiences (CX) – and it all starts with language. A recent study from Lionbridge and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) found that a majority of contact center leaders are aware that customers expect to receive service in their native language when contacting a brand. However, 79 percent of contact centers have customers who are not native speakers of the primary language(s) that they serve. In addition, voice is no longer the prominent channel for customer support which has paved the way for a slew of new channel and language support options.

To manage all of this successfully, contact centers should deploy strategic and scalable approaches that incorporate full omni-lingual support to reach customers regardless of time or geographic location. These strategies must take cultural nuances and preferences into account in order for brands to remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Giving Customers More Options When They Need It

Language is perhaps the most important component for contact centers to have control over in effectively communicating with their customers. ICMI reports that language diversity is projected to increase over the next three years, with 52 percent of contact centers expecting the volume of non-primary language communications to increase over this time. As a result, contact centers must utilize new strategies to support non-primary language speaking customers.

While providing diverse language support is essential, it must also go hand-in-hand with multichannel support. A recent Forrester report shows that consumers as a whole no longer prefer voice – with 76 percent of respondents using company FAQ websites and 58 percent preferring online chat options. To address this, brands need to provide strategic support across all channels and languages to provide quality CX, including:

  • Self-service channels: Forrester reports that consumers are more likely to visit a website before picking up a phone, which is further heightened among the millennial generation who expect self-service options. Online chat is a critical component of effective online customer engagement; consumers are likely to abandon an online purchase if they are unable to find a resolution to their answer or can’t pursue a live chat option. As a result, savvy brands must provide self-service channels, from chat to forum/community and mobile support. These channels also need to be enabled with omni-lingual capabilities to benefit the widest group of customers possible. If the majority of content is presented in only a single or select group of languages, the channel isn’t helping non-primary speakers.
  • 24/7 support: As always-on, connected customers increasingly expect 24/7 service from anywhere, contact centers must reach customers in new ways, such as mobile and social, in real-time. By enabling diverse channel options coupled with comprehensive language support, brands can reduce the amount of overall inbound calls to their contact centers, saving precious dollars while enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Globalization strategies: Global markets are becoming increasingly diverse and connected, and the distinction between domestic and global is shrinking. As a result, even companies that don’t plan to expand geographically must manage their contact centers accordingly by creating plans to support their customers across all languages.
  • Journey streamlining: To better understand customer interactions and reduce overall customer effort, contact centers are looking to customer journey mapping. However, these are typically done in primary languages, which leads to challenges down the road for non-primary language speaking customers. As a result, progressive companies must extend journey mapping, planning and measurement to non-primary languages.

Looking Ahead

The contact center marketplace is going through a significant transformation, and it will likely continue to grow in complexity. Today’s contact centers must evolve their strategies and focus on self-service channels, 24/7 support, globalization strategies and journey streamlining to provide both omni-channel channel options and language support. The result is new opportunities for brands to engage and align with today’s digitally-savvy and demanding customers and further drive brand loyalty.

How to Recruit and Train Great Contact Center Agents

The contact center isn’t just a place where customers go when they need answers. It’s also an influential public relations tool, giving many customers a first impression of a company. A customer’s experience with a contact center can shape their future purchase decisions. Contact center agents need to be carefully chosen and well-trained in order to meet and exceed the needs of the customer.

  1. Hire Great People

It takes more time and energy to hire and train excellent agents than it does to hire the first person you sit down to interview, but the payoff is well worth it. To hire people who will excel at the job, create an Ideal Candidate Profile by assessing your best agents. What makes them great at their jobs? Hire agents with those qualities.

  1. Test Their Memory

In order for contact center agents to deliver superb customer care, they have to learn and remember so much about a business’ products or services. They also have to listen and relate to the customer. Being a good listener and recalling information is integral to the position and it’s something that can’t really be taught. During the interview stage, test their listening aptitude. Do they answer the question you asked or do they go off in another direction? Do they repeat part of your question back to you while answering?

  1. Assess Their Voice and Speaking Ability

Physical appearance shouldn’t affect the hiring of a new contact center agent. However, their voice should play a role in whether or not they’d be a good fit for your contact center. You don’t need to find someone who has a perfect-for-radio voice, but they should be able to speak clearly. While you can assess their voice by speaking with them, a more effective route is to use hiring technology like Hire IQ. These systems assess the interviewee’s voice and vocal characteristics to make sure their communication skills are up to par.

  1. Conduct Virtual Interviews

Hiring technology can also be used to conduct virtual interviews. After a candidate submits their application, they’ll be prompted to record their responses to questions. If they prefer, they can complete the interview at a later time. The contact center can then review the interview on their own schedule and assess the candidate’s answers in a matter of minutes. Overall, the process of interviewing and selecting agents is accelerated. When you’re able to quickly hire the best candidates, you won’t have to worry that they’ll take another job offer in the interim.

  1. Appeal to Different Learning Styles

Everyone has their own style of learning. Some of your agents may learn best through auditory lessons, while others may need to see something visual or have a first-hand experience to truly understand it. A solid training program appeals to all different learning styles so that each agent can get the best education possible.

Hiring great agents is an important first step, but it’s not the end of the process. In order for agents to stay great, they have to be prepared for their new role. When agents are able to deliver excellent customer service, both the contact center and the customer benefit. High-performing agents are happier, which results in a positive customer experience, which then reinforces an agent’s job satisfaction.