Improving Agent Experience is Essential for Improving Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

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NICE inContact announced the findings from its latest research study, detailing the experiences, opportunities, and challenges of contact center agents who are a vital link to improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. The State of Experience and Engagement in Today’s Contact Centers study, commissioned by NICE inContact and ICMI, polled over 150 agents across 20 different industries to better understand where they view their greatest impact on customer experience, serving as effective brand ambassadors, and inspiring brand loyalty and lifetime value.

Sitting on the front lines of the customer experience strategy, agents have an outsized role in ensuring long-term sustainable growth driven by the contact center. Research firm Gartner has found that 86% of customer experience executives rank employee engagement as a top factor in delivering improvements in CX. By easing key agent pain-points, eliminating skills gaps and handing agents the tools they need to succeed, contact centers can ensure consistent, engaging customer experiences that drive positive business outcomes.

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Key findings include:

  • The right tools can ensure, or hinder, the speedy resolution of customer inquiries: While 29% say that the top motivating factor for agents working in customer service is helping customers, 30% claim that the number one challenge in achieving that goal is inadequate or hard to use systems – more than double the second rated choices (management or customer emotions (rude or angry); each at 14%).
  • Half of contact center staff have limited on-the-job training: Once employees move out of the onboarding phase, 55% of supervisors and 50% of agents receive under two hours of additional training a month. Furthermore, of those who do receive additional training, contact center processes are among the highest focus areas for both cohorts (52% of supervisors; 59% percent of agents) as opposed to problem solving skills (33% of supervisors; 32% of agents).
  • Business transparency leads to a more motivated and engaged workforce: Agents whose performance metrics are closely aligned with those of the overall business are more likely to be engaged (16%). Furthermore, the agent’s impact on the organization’s goals is the second highest motivating factor (22%) among those polled.

“Customer expectations are constantly evolving, from the digital-first tools they use to engage with businesses to the types of exceptional experiences they seek on a daily basis,” said Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO. “Best-in-class contact centers need to support their agents in the same way, delivering the seamless experiences that enable speedy resolutions. Our study spotlights the very real need agents have for a solution that eliminates bouncing between interfaces and windows and supports solving high-impact issues for customers.”

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Contact centers in this study support a wide assortment of channels, with 69% currently offering five or more different channels of service. With regard to the size of their contact centers, 52% represent small contact centers, those with 150 or fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs); nearly one-quarter represent medium-sized contact centers of 151-500 FTEs; and large contact centers (>501 FTEs) account for 25%.

  • Agents working in SMB contact centers report the highest level of satisfaction: 68% compared to agents in large contact centers with 56% of agents reporting satisfied or very satisfied.
  • Training programs and practices vary across contact center sizes: Formal training is in place in large contact centers for agents (97%) and supervisors (95%), compared to small contact centers with formal training for agents (87%) and supervisors (82%). Small centers provide more ongoing training for agents on high-value skills such as communication, problem solving, and customer service when compared to larger organizations.

NICE inContact CXone delivers the world’s most comprehensive digital-first omnichannel offering in the Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) market aimed at transforming experiences for customers and agents alike. CXone drives greater efficiency, satisfaction and retention among agents while improving customer acquisition and growth metrics.

Organizations looking to better support their agents and provide effortless experiences are invited to take the NICE inContact Agent Experience (AX) Maturity Assessment to determine AX readiness and ultimately grow customer satisfaction: take the online assessment.

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