Boosting Contact Center Efficiency Through Agent Empowerment agent empowerment

Boosting Contact Center Efficiency Through Agent Empowerment

In a Deloitte survey, contact center leaders named customer experience (CX) and cost control as the top strategic priorities. These two terms may seem incongruent – how can you deliver outstanding CX while controlling costs? 

The answer lies in agent empowerment. By focusing on employee engagement and agent empowerment, you create contact center efficiencies and, more importantly, boost customer experience. 

What is Agent Empowerment?

While sometimes (mistakenly) used interchangeably, some terminology is useful for implementing the right strategies. 

Agent Engagement

Agent engagement is a term used to describe the level of involvement, motivation, and emotional commitment that contact center agents have toward their work, goals, and the company.

To better understand the importance of agent engagement, consider the flip side. Agent disengagement leads to agents who are less motivated, less productive, and more likely to leave the company. In parallel to the obvious issues with agents themselves, agent disengagement can also cause harm to your company with decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty, lower sales, and fewer opportunities to increase your customer’s share of wallet. 

Ultimately, engagement is about creating the right environment and conditions for your employees to fulfill their potential, give their best each day, and have an enhanced sense of well-being. Engagement is a commitment to an organization’s goals, values, and overall success.

Agent Empowerment

Agent empowerment takes engagement one step further. It’s a two-pronged approach:

  1. Contact center leaders put their agents first and strive to make the agent experience the best it can be. This includes giving them the tools, resources, flexibility, feedback, and support to empower them to go above and beyond to deliver outstanding CX.
  2. Empowered agents are self-accountable, meaning they have autonomy and flexibility to do their jobs, leverage the tools, training, and resources available, and are open to receiving and providing feedback.  

Agent Experience

Also known as employee experience (EX), agent experience is an agent’s collective perceptions about their journey through all the company’s touchpoints, starting with their application process and proceeding through their exit. It is perceived as somewhere on the spectrum of positive and negative, and there is a clear link between EX and CX. 

How Agent Empowerment Improves Customer Experience

If boosting CX is a top strategic priority for contact centers, where’s the best place to start? 

The answer: Empower contact center agents to make decisions on their own. Research shows that empowered agents are engaged and satisfied at work and leverage the tools and resources they have to perform well in their jobs. Every step you can take toward engaging and empowering your agents will help create a positive and memorable customer experience. 

  • Empowered, engaged agents are more present and productive, making them attuned to the needs of customers, and more observant of meeting KPIs and objectives.
  • Companies with highly engaged workers report 20% higher sales
  • Empowered, engaged teams have lower attrition rates
  • Companies that actively engage employees have customer loyalty rates significantly higher than those that don’t 

There are tools available to help you make a business case for investing in customer experience, with agent empowerment central to its core. 

Boosting Contact Center Efficiency Through Agent Empowerment agent empowerment

How Agent Empowerment Boosts Contact Center Efficiency

Hiring and training new agents is more expensive than engaging and maintaining the staff you have. Finding ways to boost agent empowerment, engagement, and retention with your most talented team members is crucial to keeping quality high and costs under control.

Focusing on agent retention is significantly cheaper than hiring and training new ones. Since workforce compensation is the biggest line item in your contact center budget, investing in empowering staff will reduce the cost of hiring and training new agents. In addition, new employees are typically less efficient due to a lack of product knowledge and have limited experience with your company and support organization, which also drives up costs.

Seven Ways to Empower Agents

The link between agent empowerment and improved CX and contact center efficiencies is undisputed. Here are some ways you can empower your agents:

  1. Instill a CX and EX Culture 

The first step to empowering agents starts at the top. By making customer experience and employee experience strategic priorities in your contact center, all decisions, investments, processes, and metrics flow from there. Leaders need to provide not only lip service but infuse CX and EX into everything they do. 

  1. Provide Meaningful Recognition

Acknowledging and celebrating the efforts of agents through regular recognition programs or awards can significantly impact agent morale. Publicly praising achievements, both big and small, reinforces a positive work culture and motivates others to strive for excellence.

One fun way to provide recognition is via a gamification solution. With this in place, you can give out badges related to company goals in a public forum. Public recognition for a well done job inspires higher performance and builds motivation and agent morale. 

  1. Offer Ongoing Training and Development

Invest in continuous learning opportunities to help agents expand their skills, stay updated on industry trends, and advance their careers within the organization. Empowered agents are more likely to feel engaged and committed to their roles. To provide mentoring to your agents, you can leverage a wide array of coaching solutions.

  1. Give and Seek Meaningful Feedback

The statistics speak for themselves – 65% of employees desire more feedback, and 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week.

Although we can all agree that receiving negative feedback on performance is difficult for even the most thick-skinned among us, giving this kind of feedback is better than no feedback at all. One way to provide feedback is via conducting consistent quality management (QM) reviews. 

But don’t forget that feedback is a two-way street. Offer agents informal and formal opportunities to give feedback, and make sure you listen and act on that feedback. 

  1. Empower Agents with Technology

Equip agents with the tools and technology they need to streamline their workflows, access relevant information quickly, and deliver personalized service to customers. Modernizing the contact center infrastructure can enhance efficiency and job satisfaction.

  1. Offer Flexible Work Environments

Empowering your contact center agents works best when you support their initiatives. Let your agents pick their schedule preferences and feel supported in choosing what works best for their schedules. Flexible work hours help them be more engaged and attentive when they are on the clock. 

  1. Foster Team Collaboration

Communication and collaboration are paramount to success in any organization. Provide formal and informal ways for teams to collaborate. Have informative, productive team meetings. Consider opportunities for peer mentoring. Convey an openness to feedback. 

Improving agent experience in your company can seem challenging and expensive, but focusing on empowering your team goes a long way toward achieving your goals. Empowering your agents will reap big rewards by improving contact center efficiencies and customer experience. 

Learn more in our webinar: Building the Agent Experience Innovation Center

Boosting Contact Center Efficiency Through Agent Empowerment agent empowerment
Playvox Team

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