New report finds that contact center turnover is high, agent job satisfaction directly impacts customer satisfaction, and AI and conversation intelligence are underutilized – although 85% of managers say they plan to implement the solutions within the next year
Invoca, a recognized leader in conversation intelligence AI, released its 2023 State of the Contact Center Report to pull the curtain back on how contact center agents work, what makes them happy, and how contact center managers use conversation intelligence AI to drive contact center performance and excel in customer satisfaction. This research exposes the captivating truths and untapped potential of supporting contact centers with AI and demonstrates that a data-driven approach yields positive outcomes. Despite managers recognizing the game-changing power of these technologies in elevating performance and efficiency, the study uncovers a surprising reality: only 20% of contact center managers report using AI, and a mere 30% say they use conversation intelligence. The contact center industry is ripe for transformation as an undeniable connection exists between agent job satisfaction and customer delight and the underutilization of AI and conversation intelligence.
Contact center agents are often the first and only human interaction customers have with a business, and they serve as the voice of the brand. The experience they provide can significantly impact customer acquisition and retention. The report findings confirm that agents do much more than handle customer service calls—with most agents reporting they handle revenue-generating sales calls and even analyze call metrics for their managers.
“Today’s consumers expect a seamless experience—even as they move across channels from digital to phone calls—and it’s mission-critical for companies to ensure their contact centers connect these disparate experiences and analyze agent performance at scale,” said Gregg Johnson, CEO at Invoca. “This report shows that AI and conversation intelligence are key to combining the power of data, automation, and the human touch so agents can focus on providing empathetic service, delighting customers, and driving revenue.”
Providing agents with the customer’s digital journey leads to better service
When contact center agents answer the phone, they often have little insight into what the caller might need before the call begins. The survey results show that agents could provide better service if they had more information about the caller in hand before the conversation began.
When agents were asked what information is the most useful to have before starting a conversation with a customer, top responses included what products/services the caller was interested in (41%), what web page they were looking at before calling (30%), what items were in their cart before calling (29%) and what ads or promotions they saw before calling.
Conversation intelligence is key to better agent performance evaluation—but it’s currently underutilized
Interestingly, Invoca found less than a third of contact center managers (30%) reported using conversation intelligence to analyze calls—nearly equivalent to those who report using manual call listening for QA purposes (32%). Furthermore, an even smaller proportion report using AI technologies (20%), despite their potential to streamline operations and deliver valuable analytics, while returning time back to agents to focus on driving sales.
It’s astonishing to discover that most contact center managers are still stuck in the past, tediously sifting through random call samples by hand instead of embracing modern technologies. This outdated approach squanders precious time and resources, while modern solutions can effortlessly identify best practices, skyrocket agent productivity, and expedite the onboarding process. Most managers (62%) say they can’t analyze enough calls to evaluate agent performance accurately, and about the same number (61%) said that having appropriate call analytics technology is the top factor that impacts their ability to provide more effective agent coaching.
The good news is that, like many industries, the adoption of AI is accelerating for contact centers, as 85% of contact center managers surveyed said they are likely to implement a conversation intelligence solution in the next year.
More than half of contact center agents plan to leave their job in the next six months
It’s no secret that contact center agent turnover is very high, and the report showed that the majority of agents turnover each year (60%). Agents have a tough job and are expected to do much more today. Instead of having agents who specialize in certain call types, almost two-thirds (64%) of agents today report handling both sales and service calls. Having to navigate those very different customer needs creates stressful environments, with 18% of agents leaving their job because of anxiety or poor treatment by customers.
The report shows a solution: adding conversation intelligence improves the customer experience which then improves the agent experience leading to a 39% increase in agent retention. This translates into millions in increased sales revenue, operational efficiency and significantly lower talent acquisition costs.
Contact center agents say a hybrid remote/in-office setup enables them to provide the best service to customers—but managers don’t agree
The challenge of evaluating and coaching agents increases as contact centers adapt to remote work. Most contact center agents (64%) report having hybrid remote and on-site work arrangements today, with agents in hybrid work arrangements reporting they are “very satisfied” with their jobs (68%) even more than those who are fully remote (44%).
The happiness of contact center agents and, in turn, customers, depends on the flexibility of their work environment. The survey results highlight an interesting disparity between the perceptions of contact center agents and managers regarding the impact of the work environment on delivering the best customer experience.
The majority of agents say that a hybrid work arrangement enables them to provide the best customer experience (60%). However, only about a third of managers agree (35%). The difference between the way managers and agents feel about working exclusively on-site is even starker, with only 18% of agents compared to 35% of managers saying that a completely on-site work arrangement enables them to provide the best customer service.