CX Culture

How To Overcome the 7 Most Common Contact Center Challenges

Contact centers are the front line of customer service! So it’s crucial to have your finger on the pulse of common contact center problems to solve them effectively.

Contact centers can be tough work environments, leading to increased costs, agent absenteeism, and agent turnover — while decreasing customer service quality, team morale and effectiveness.

While your business and contact center may be unique, core industry issues tend to repeat themselves. What are the challenges you anticipate in your contact center, and how do you plan to overcome them? Below, we discuss seven of the most common contact center problems managers face, and solutions to make these obstacles a thing of the past.

Contact Center Problems and Solutions:

1. Agent Attrition

Among the key contact center problems, employee attrition tops the list. Turnover has long been an issue in high-volume hiring environments, including contact centers. Often cramped in a cubicle 9-10 hours a day (or working from home), answering calls from frustrated customers, while also experiencing low pay, and slim benefits — it makes sense why agents see contact center work as challenging, and may not see it as their future career.

Even the most motivated contact center employees are easily discouraged if they experience narrow growth opportunities or overly monotonous job responsibilities. As a result, agents and employees have high burnout rates, turnover, and poor performance.

Related: 7 ways to reduce call center turnover forever

Solution: Recognize and Reward

Most agents only communicate with their superiors when they’re facing obstacles. To change this tide, contact center managers should simply recognize and acknowledge their effort and outstanding performance. This easy approach builds trust, strengthens agent-manager relationships, and brings positive energy to the workplace.

Solution: Competitive Pay and Benefits

Rewarding hardworking contact center agents for a job well done keeps them motivated and wanting to stay with your company. By frequently comparing your benefits and wages with other contact centers in your industry, you’ll know if you’re offering the right incentives, rewards programs, and friendly competitions.

Solution: Control and Training

It is crucial that skilled and motivated agents can handle a conversation successfully and gain customer trust. Coaching agents with traditional training methods are often quite time consuming and ineffective. Instead, the agent should learn to provide value to the company.

Solution: Gamification

Gamification is transforming contact center problems. With the right game mechanics, tools, tactics, and techniques, managers can reshape their contact center into a customer-centric operation by motivating employee engagement and achievement. Games are a great way to build positive company culture, and make work more fun!

2. Low Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to overcoming contact center challenges, low customer satisfaction ratings are one of the most detrimental for your business. Not only do they push away current customers, they also prevent you from gaining new ones. 

According to SQM, a U.S. customer survey research, 30 percent of a contact center’s call volumes are callbacks from previous, unresolved issues. And even if the contact center compensates customers for their unpleasant experience, it takes seven positive experiences to make up for the bad one. 

Solution: Provide IVR

An effective Interactive Voice Response or skills-based routing is an optimal solution for enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.  By delivering a more personalized experience from the start, IVRs collect information about customer’s needs and quickly route their calls to the most appropriate agent or department. 

More advanced systems place high-value callers at the front of the waiting queue, so even if all agents are busy, the team will never lose a high-value customer.

Solution: Customer Surveys

Make customers the spotlight of your contact center by continuously  asking for feedback and opinions. Customers provide you with a wealth of information about your products, services, agents and more.  Feedback is crucial for monitoring agent performance and the data actually helps minimize various contact center problems.

Solution: Reassess your KPIs

Metrics by which you measure agent performance potentially harm your customer service. KPIs such as AHT pressure agents to handle calls within a certain amount of time, leading them to transfer calls more times than necessary, “accidentally” getting disconnected and providing generic responses or service. Review your metrics scorecard and make sure agents are focusing on metrics that really matter and don’t backfire.

9 Contact Center Metrics

3. Not Putting Employees First

What are the challenges of a contact center agent? Nearly everything an agent does creates a stressful situation that they’re forced to manage. A decrease in contact center performance levels and customer satisfaction, Average Handle Time, low morale, and so many other factors put pressure on agents. And an overreliance on traditional metrics often make it difficult for agents to improve because they ignore quality, overwork agents and ultimately lead to decreasing performance.

Effective contact centers are certainly placing more importance on their customers, but sometimes forget to check in on their own staff. In fact, KPIs such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) are more commonly used than employee satisfaction (ESAT). According to a recent survey by ICMI, nearly half of respondents don’t track employee satisfaction within their contact center.

Related: Why Agent Engagement Matters and 6 Ways to Nurture It

Solution: Focus on Non-Traditional Metrics

Focus on qualitative and quantitative metrics, such as real-time customer feedback, balanced scorecards and Net Promoter Score, which all work to further improve performance levels. Happy agents are more likely to lead to happy customers, after all!

Related: More important than Net Promoter Score? Agent Promoter Score

4. Too Many Tools

Many contact centers use multiple and outdated software systems and tools to help with their day-to-day operations, rather than using a single, more contemporary platform. This means agents are opening and closing up to 10 different programs to resolve a single query, and spending enormous amounts of time on administrative tasks. All that toggling gets in the way of delivering a strong customer experience.

According to the American Psychological Association, even brief mental blocks created by switching tasks cost as much as 40% of someone’s productivity! 

Solution: Integration

When it comes to implementing new technology solutions, companies typically adopt new feature-specific software that integrates within their existing contact center or choose a platform with multiple, integrated solutions, like Playvox

Zendesk provides a cloud-based customer support platform that allows quick and easy interaction between businesses and customers, giving agents the ability to handle multiple systems from one source. 

Playvox, which easily integrates with Zendesk, provides the tools to run the QA operations of your contact center, centralizing training, coaching and evaluation tools.

5. Struggling To Boost Performance

Hitting targets and consistently satisfying customers is a common contact center challenge. As a company, you want to make sure your customers receive the service they deserve.

However, it may feel like you’ve taken your team as far as they can go. Agents are achieving good (but not great) results and solving your customers’ issues, but how do you take performance to the next level?

Solution: Reward Good Behavior

Setting up a reward system might be what your employees need to increase their performance. Set metrics goals and reward them with prizes on par with the contact center challenges. Whether intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, find  what motivates your team and give them something to reach for! 

Solution: Upgrade Your Quality Assurance Software

With Playvox’s quality assurance software, you can monitor, train, coach and reward your agents, all from the same platform. By keeping a closer eye of your agents’ performance, you’ll be able to spot areas of improvement and train accordingly.

6. Agents Are Not Retaining Information Well

Some contact center challenges result from your agent’s ability to simply retain necessary information. For example, you may be conducting onboarding training sessions for your new hires and giving them all the information they need to know, but this is a lot of information at once.  But, when it comes time for them to apply their knowledge during a customer call, it’s likely they’re not remembering everything. As a result, performance is lower than expected and your contact center managers are continuously assisting their agents.

Solution: Create Engaging and Continuous Training Sessions

Training continuously is a great way to reinforce best practices, share knowledge and correct any habits. It’s normal if information doesn’t always sink in the first time. We’ve all felt that “information overload” feeling, so it’s important to frequently refresh and discuss any updates since the last training. 

Offering different training approaches, content or creative ways to move away from the traditional classroom setting are positive approaches for engaging your agents. You might also consider getting your agents involved with planning and developing learning activities like creating multimedia presentations, short quizzes or even setting up your next team outing.

Training sessions don’t have to be boring. Playvox’s solution gives agents targeted assistance to boost their knowledge and performance on specific subjects. Rather than delivering cookie-cutter classroom lessons, quizzes, videos and other multimedia content make training more interactive, fun and rewarding for everyone. 

7. Agents Struggle To Concentrate

The classic contact center is usually an open space with dozens of call center agents on the phone at the same time trying to listen and assist their customer over the loud chatter of agents all doing the same thing. This is not only stressful but can distract and make focusing on calls harder than it should be.

Distractions are also one of the contact center problems for remote or work-from-home agents. Other family members working from home, children, pets, mail or package deliveries are all potential obstacles to concentration!

Related: Ensuring Your Agents are Fully Operational Working from Home

10 Lessons to Elevate Remote Agent Experiences - Sutherland Webinar

Solution: Create Private Space

Though cubicles may seem constrictive, they do make a big difference in reducing noise and distractions. Even short, 2-foot walls around each desk help your agents focus. Not to mention, dividing office space allows agents to have their own personal area and avoid issues with sharing a co-workers tabletop.

Solution: Emphasize Work-life Balance

While it’s impossible to eliminate every distraction, contact center agents find it easier to concentrate with a healthy work-life balance. And with more agents taking advantage of flexible schedules and remote work — maintaining dedicated workspace at home becomes even more important.

Whatever the situation, overcoming contact center problems can be done efficiently and effectively for both in-office and work from home agents. Contact centers not only have the potential to be a great place to work, but also an accessible solution for customer issues. 

Undoubtedly, there are numerous solutions for improving common contact center problems, but starting with these seven creates a strong foundation for your team. And from here, you can explore more detailed solutions, creating a contact center environment that’s excellent for both staff and customers.

Considering an all-in-one platform that can put an end to common contact center challenges? Request a demo today!

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