Customer Service Confidential: Agents Reveal the Secrets to their Happiness

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Want to make your customers happy? Start with your agents.

We all know happy agents, make happy customers. For example, The Tempkin Group’s 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study found that organizations that deliver great customer experiences have one-and-a-half times as many engaged employees as under-engaged employees. So let’s take a look at exactly how happy agents really are.

In the 2nd annual Aspect Agent Experience Index survey, 64 percent of all agents said they’re happy in their work. This is a good, but not a great percentage. However, 75 percent of self-professed engaged agents said they were satisfied in their jobs, an 11-point difference. The takeaway here is that better engagement equals better satisfaction. But a bonus takeaway is in this nugget: engaged agents were 61 percent more likely to want to handle complex questions/tasks than lower-engaged agents.

Creating and maintaining agent engagement has clear benefits to the contact center but what exactly do customer service agents need to be engaged and happy?

While Aspect’s agent survey provides several insights that can help answer this question, they do not come without complication. The survey found that young millennial/GenZ agents (ages 18-24) are the least content of any demographic. They are the least likely to want to handle complex questions, most likely to want to leave the company where they currently work, and the only group whose job satisfaction declined from 2017. This is troubling because they will also be the largest contact center agent demographic in the next two to three years. That said, there are clear ways agents in all demographics reveal how customer service organizations can keep them and as a result, their customers happy.

Respect them

In the 2017 Aspect survey, a competitive salary was what agents said was the most important factor in making them engaged and happy. In this year’s survey, working in an environment they feel respected rose to the top of the list. 93 percent of agents said a respectful work environment is the most important factor to keeping them engaged in the workplace, an increase of 8 points from the prior year. It was also the first or second most important factor in every female demographic.

Challenge them

When asked about how AI and self-service customer channels would reduce the number of easy questions they receive in the course of a day, 8 in 10 agents said their skills would improve if they were asked to handle more complex questions/tasks. Plus, 68 percent of agents (and 73 percent of Young Millennial/GenZ agents) said the challenge would make them feel more satisfied/committed in their jobs. And this means they would be less likely to want to leave.

Equip them

84 percent of agents said that it’s important for them to have all the necessary customer data at their disposal in to provide personalized customer experiences. No one would disagree with this. However, only a little more than a quarter of them (27%) said they have ALL the information they need to provide one, quickly and accurately, every time. And eight in ten agents felt that it’s important for them to have easy-to-use software to manage customer interactions yet only 35 percent of them say this is currently available to them.

Empower them

Self-service is not just for customers. Empowering agents with self-service capabilities to pick up shifts and manage schedules on their own not only delivers on improving their work/life balance – which 91 percent of them say is important to their engagement – but it also shows them the respect they say is vital to their work satisfaction. Two thirds of agents (65 percent) said they prefer self-service contact with management vs. speaking with them directly and nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) of Young Millennial/GenZ agents think that self-service contact with management  is more important than a good salary.

Agent engagement and retention play a huge role in the productivity and profitability of contact centers. The Aspect Agent Experience Index offers key insights into how customer service agents can energize and optimize their agents for maximum impact and optimal customer experience delivery.