Study Finds “Agent Apathy” to Be the Root of Poor Customer Care

There’s nothing quite so disappointing as conversing with a customer care agent whose monotone voice makes it quite evident that he or she does not truly care about addressing your inquiry.  And, it’s no secret that this low-energy approach to quality of customer care will not win businesses increased customer retention or positive reviews.

In fact, a recent study from ICMI and Five9 revealed that “agent apathy” is the root cause of poor customer care levels. What’s more, in the same study 74 percent of contact center leaders confessed to feeling that they prevented their agents from providing the best experience possible.

While it’s honorable for these leaders to have acknowledged their faults, it is critical they they deduce exactly what is causing their agents to produce low levels of customer care and even more importantly, how to resolve this apathy epidemic.

For starters, workplace morale greatly affects the attitudes of contact center workers. With such high levels of daily stress thrust upon them each day in the form of hefty call queues and upset consumers, it’s no surprise that agents’ sometimes feel burnt out. However, contact center supervisors can work to create a more optimistic, team-oriented atmosphere to help agents’ feel more excited about their careers.

For example, supervisors must provide their employees with an appropriate balance between work and home life. This means staying sensitive to employees’ personal matters and understanding when agents need a break. You never want your employees’ to force their way through the work week, and offering suitable vacation allowance can certainly increase their satisfaction and performance.

In addition to work-life balance, the structure of your team is also important. Hiring managers must ensure that each new agent who enters the team is  cohesive with the rest of the workforce. More specifically, it’s important to take notice of your agents’ preferences and personalities in order to foster a group of workers who enjoy each other’s company and motivate each other to work hard and make progress.

Your contact center workplace culture will impact your agents’ quality of customer care—but it’s your choice, as the supervisor, as to whether that impact is negative or positive.

We want to hear your thoughts. Tell us how you keep your employees smiling in the comments section!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

The Power of InfoCision’s ‘Family-oriented’ Atmosphere

At InfoCision, we take pride in our supportive, communicative workplace atmosphere. In fact, we often refer to our offices as having a rather ‘family-like’ feeling. However, these past few weeks proved that this familial environment is, actually, quite literal.

You know what they say; sometimes what you’re searching for is right under your nose. Well, that is just what happened at our Youngstown, Ohio contact center when two of our employees discovered that they were the people they’d been searching for all their lives.

Our dear employee La-Sonya Mitchell-Clark received the shock of her life when she recently found out that her birth mother, who she’d been hoping to contact for her whole life, was in fact Francine Simmons—another valued employee who has been working with us for nearly 11 years now. Imagine, Mitchell-Clark would walk into work and see Simmons, the receptionist, at the front desk; they’d offer a friendly “Hello” completely unaware that they were the missing link in each other’s lives for all this time.

What’s more, another of Simmons’ daughters Kamala Cummings works at this same location as well. She told a local news station, WYTV, “It’s just amazing that all this time we’re thinking about her and trying to find her and she was trying to find, us, too.”

Now, you might have already read this emotional, heartwarming story in Cosmo or People, but today I’d like to acknowledge this incredible event from our perspective here at InfoCision.

I’d like our readership to understand that these are very special people and the fact that they‘ve found one another is such a blessing. I was just as amazed as everyone else when I heard the news, and it’s been something special spending time with the ladies and realizing what this means for them. This experience is so touching and is surely something I’ll never forget.

What makes this story so moving for InfoCision is that our employees always comment on what a great place this is to work because of the people—specifically, the relationships they build and the special bonds they share after working together.

It’s quite incredible to now have had such an unbelievable story unfold, taking place under our very own roof. Right now, the team at InfoCision is focused on making sure we are being supportive and encouraging to the family as it has been, quite understandably, an overwhelming and emotional time.

At InfoCision, we’re very inspired by this touching story, which relays to us the power of human emotion and establishing person-to-person connections. Each day our contact center Communicators try their best to translate these fundamentals of the human experience into our quality of customer care best-practices. After all, you never know who is on the other end of the line. It could very well be possible that you could speak to someone—who you think is just a stranger—who could change your mind, your day or, perhaps, your life.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

Do Your Employees Love Their Workplace?

No, we aren’t getting sentimental; Cupid’s special day has already passed. What we’re here to talk about is the importance of employees who love their work.

A recent survey from Virgin Pulse showed that 60 percent of people say their relationship with their employer positively impacts their productivity and focus, while 40 percent say this same relationship positively affects their stress levels. As a business leader, it’s important to take note of these statistics. Your actions and regulations directly impact your employees who, in turn, impact the results provided to the end-user.

In our consumer-driven world, quality of customer service is highly scrutinized and therefore of the utmost importance to businesses. Have you ever called a customer service line and were greeted by an agent who sounded like they genuinely enjoyed assisting you? These types of customer service calls always result in first call solutions, lead generation and a spike in positive reviews–on Yelp, for instance–for the client.

Below are a few thoughts and practices to employ in order to boost your workplace morale:

  • Positive Reinforcement: It’s simple! Outwardly show that you support your team. Offering congratulations on an excellent service call can truly heighten an employee’s mood and have a long lasting impact on them.
  • Work/Life Balance: Overworked employees trudge through the work day rather than offering above and beyond customer service. Try offering more flexible work from home options. This will drive more incentive for workers to be more productive.
  • Skills-Based Routing: Match your employees’ duties to their strengths. Your workers will feel adequately challenged while simultaneously providing top notch service in their areas of expertise.
  • Strategically Assembled Team: It’s true that people who love their colleagues love going to the office. Hire mature, career driven candidates that are in it for the long haul. Likeminded people produce remarkable results when teamed up.

While today’s business technology  certainly aides in augmenting workplace productivity, the best results come from companies whose workforce consists of happy, collaborative team members.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Teleservices Association (ATA). He also donates his time to serve on several University boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s higher honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

 

The Importance of Setting Employees Up to Succeed

Businesses often closely examine the most effective means to get maximum productivity out of employees, which is of course a worthwhile goal. At InfoCision, however, we prefer to frame the discussion in a slightly different way: how can we set our workers up to give them the best chance to succeed?

That is a question with many correct answers, but there are several basic strategies any company can begin to implement immediately in an effort to get the most out of its workforce:

Match Personality to Job Description

Not everybody is well-suited for every job—that is just a simple reality. You don’t want your shyest workers—no matter how intelligent they might be—talking to customers for eight hours every day. Every employee has his or her own strength and it is the employer’s job to figure out what those are and how best to use them. Some organizations even go so far as giving employees personality tests before assigning them a specific job title. A business should always be looking to seamlessly pair personalities with job descriptions and shouldn’t be afraid to switch an employee to a different job or department if the employer determines the change would be a better fit.

Embrace Technology

Particularly, contact center technology can ensure people are handling the tasks they are qualified to tackle. Skills-based routing, for example, ensures that the most complex or difficult contact center inquiries are sent to someone with experience and a history of dealing with similar scenarios effectively. A fully-baked, top-of-the-line customer relationship management (CRM) system also puts employees in a solid position by giving them the relevant information necessary to resolve customer issues swiftly.

Ongoing Oversight and Guidance

Most organizations try to emphasize quality employee training, but many fall short in helping those workers to continue growing in their roles over time. Refresher courses, team meetings, brainstorming sessions, town hall style discussions with executives—these are all ways for a company to help its employees do their jobs more effectively as time goes on. Additionally, these kinds of events show that upper management is invested in employees’ individual success as well as company prosperity.

Click here to learn more about how InfoCision aims to create a great workplace culture for its employees.