Genesys Study: Contact Centers Need to Focus on Agents

MELBOURNE, Australia - Genesys released the eighth study in its Contact Centre Realities series for Australia and New Zealand entitled Optimizing Agent Performance. Genesys research indicated that contact centers recognize that they need to focus on what is both their highest cost and their most valuable asset: agents. 

The Genesys research revealed that the key determinant of customer loyalty is the quality of the customer experience:

  • Consumers rated customer service as being the number one influence on their loyalty to a company 
  • 71 percent of consumers would do business with a company based on a great contact center experience 

While remuneration is important to agents it is not necessarily their biggest driver of motivation, and 75 percent of agents are most motivated by factors that engender a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement in their daily work, although only 52 percent of agents report experiencing this. The biggest agent motivator is feeling or being told that they've helped a customer, and a majority of their job stress relates to customer frustration and the inability to serve customers well.

The survey also revealed that there is significant room for improvement in the engagement and retention of contact center agents:

  • Only six percent of agents want their next role to be that of a contact center agent 
  • 70 percent of managers agree that a tighter labor market has made it more difficult to hire contact center agents

Fortunately the report also identified some of the steps that organizations are taking to address these deficiencies:

  • More than two-thirds of agents would be willing to continue working as a contact center agent for a 10 to 30 percent increase in pay 
  • 62 percent of agents would be open to increasing the amount of cross-selling if it gave them the opportunity to earn more salary in the form of commissions 
  • Organizations are increasing the percentage of base salary that agents can earn as incentives and are funding this increase from their marketing and sales budgets in recognition of their contact centers' revenue generation skill and capacity

One of the keys to maximizing agent productivity is to manage the balance between service levels and costs, and many contact center managers are achieving this by engaging agents to make outbound calls when inbound call volumes are low. Companies that have had the best success with this are the 27 percent working with integrated inbound and outbound systems. One type of outbound call is the value-add or courtesy call, where companies make proactive outbound calls to customers to provide them with useful information or to evaluate their satisfaction with the company. These outbound calls have a significant positive impact on both customers and agents, and 89 percent of consumers said their opinion of a company would improve if they received a courtesy call, while 39 percent of agents say these calls would make their job more satisfying. However, 27 percent of companies don't make any courtesy calls at all, and in the majority of  those that do, less than five percent of customers receive a call at least once a year. 

Approximately 75 percent of commercial organizations undertake cross-selling during inbound service calls. The majority of agents feel quite comfortable with cross-selling, and only 13 percent avoid it.  Perhaps surprisingly, consumers are also quite open to cross-selling, and only 15 percent don't want companies to tell them about additional products and services that may benefit them.

The latest report, which comprises feedback from 96 customer service executives from a diverse range of organizations in Australia and New Zealand and 420 contact center agents from eight of these organizations, explores how organizations are optimizing the performance of their contact center agents. The respondents are drawn from 19 different industries, including government, finance, telecommunications, health and utilities. The report also considers the customer perspective by including findings from a survey of 700 Australian and New Zealand consumers which forms part of the Genesys Global Consumer Survey 2006.

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