Contact Center Agent Turnover Is A Fact Of Life That Must Be Tracked And Managed

Agents turn over in contact centers, and managing your turnover rate is a fact of life. Low agent turnover rates are those that are below 20% a year, and some contact centers have turnover rates as low as 5%. Turnover rates higher than 50% are considered high, and some contact centers have attrition rates of more than 100% a year. Turnover impacts organizations because of recruiting and training costs, and ongoing agent morale issues which can impact customer satisfaction. As turnover costs must be built into overall contact center plans, its important to have an attrition benchmark and manage your operations to that number.

Not all turnover is the same. It is useful to quantify each turnover event as voluntary or involuntary, and understand the causes of turnover so that you can address them, especially if your metric far exceeds the benchmark that you have set for the organization. Common causes of turnover are:

  • Involuntary turnover: This is attributable to a mismatch between the contact center agent and the expectations of the position for which the agent is hired. Examples include poor hiring and training practices; poor job descriptions; effort required for the job that were miscommunicated during interviewing; poor toolset that causes overly-long training times.
  • Voluntary turnover: This is attributable to the contact center organization not meeting long term job expectations of the contact center agent. Examples include job monotony; better pay elsewhere; lack of career advancement; poor management; over- supervision;  lack of empowerment to solve customer issues; lack of control of personal schedules; frustration with the toolset; stress of dealing with irate customers.
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Forrester Data Shows An Explosion Of Channels For Customer Service With Inconsistent Satisfaction Ratings

We know that consumer preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my lastest report, and key data points from this report can be found in my latest blog post. Key takeaways are:

  • Consumers want to use more, rather than fewer communication channels for customer service.
  • Consumers are using a set of new channels were not statistically significantly used 3 years ago. For example: SMS, click to call, screen sharing, virtual agents
  • Online and digital communication channels are becoming increasingly utilized for customer service
  • Voice is still the most widely used channel, with a 73% utilization rate. This percentage has not changed in the last 3 years.
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Oracle's Customer Experience Management Technology: Its A Good Thing, But Really Hard To Do

I was at Oracle’s Analyst day today, and spent time with the Customer Experience Team drilling into the technology that allows organizations to deliver consistent, cross-channel, cross-touchpoint experiences across what Oracle terms the buying and owning journey – and which parallels Forrester’s viewpoint quite nicely. Here is Oracle's view of this journey:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most companies cannot deliver consistent customer experiences across the explosion of touchpoints and communication channels.  This is, in part, because companies have historically implemented customer-facing technologies in silos, disconnected from each other. Here's some data points about customer service that backs this up. In a survey of eBusiness professionals, only 19% and 21% of the respondents believe that they are effective at multichannel integration and back-end integration, respectively.  More than that, companies are not treating this problem as pressing: In our latest Forrsignts survey, only 34% of companies interviewed are planning to do any type of multichannel integration – and again, this is data for customer service only!

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Why Is Effortless Customer Service So Hard To Deliver? It's Partly An Ownership Issue

Why is it so difficult to deliver consistent, effortless customer service interactions across communication channels and touchpoints. A fundamental reason has to do with how companies are internally organized. In many companies, sales, marketing, and customer service are discrete functional silos that don’t necessarily share the same technologies, business processes, data, or even the same definition of measures of success.

Let’s take a quick look at the organizations that make technology purchases for customer service. Obviously, the customer service operations group makes most of these purchases. Yet marketing and eBusiness organizations also purchase many technologies that are valuable to customer service such as social listening solutions, enterprise feedback management solutions, and social media technologies. Here are some numbers to back this up: in a survey of eBusiness and channel strategy executives, 91% said that they were responsible for the website and digital channels like email, chat, and web self service, and another 69% said they were responsible for the mobile operations, including the required technology purchases.

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Communication Channel Preferences For Customer Service Are Rapidly Changing. Do You Know What Your Customers Need?

Consumers’ preferences for customer service channels are rapidly changing. And it’s not just the younger generation of consumers — there’s disruption and change across all ages and  demographics. Our 2013 data about communication channels that customers use for customer service is available in my latest report. Here are some key data points:

  • Customers want companies to value their time. 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
  • Voice is the most used communication channel for service. Voice, which 73% of customers use for customer service, is still the most widely used channel. However, web self-service and digital channels like chat and email are following close behind.
  • Chat is increasingly popular. Online chat adoption among customers has risen from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. In addition, it has the highest satisfaction rating of any channel used, after voice.
  • The demise of email is premature. Email remains the third most widely used communication channel among US online adults. In the past three years, email usage has increased by two percentage points, from 56% to 58%.
  • Social channels are increasingly important. Online communities and Twitter have seen increases in usage rates in the past three years. However, satisfaction remains low for these channels, as companies have not invested in best practices for managing interactions on these channels.
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Four Steps For Optimizing Customer Service Operations

This post originally appeared on destinationCRM.

 

Customers want efficient, effortless service from the touchpoint and communication channel of their choice. They want to receive accurate, relevant, and complete answers to their questions upon first contact with a company. Forrester data backs this up: Sixty-six percent of customers agree that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. Forty-five percent of US online adults will abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Why is it so important to deliver on customer expectations?  Customer satisfaction correlates to customer loyalty, and loyalty has economic benefits. Forrester calculates that a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in revenue. Conversely, poor customer experiences are costly: Our data shows that 75% of consumers move to another channel when online service fails, which can incur a cost of many millions of dollars.

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More Changes Afoot In The CRM Space: Sage Drops SageLogix and ACT! To Focus On Core Products

Yesterday, the UK-based Sage Group said it had agreed to sell seven of its noncore products, virtually divesting itself of its North American operations. Notable divestitures in the CRM space are:

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Forrester's Top 15 Trends For Customer Service In 2013

2012 is still a vivid memory for most of us. But it’s time to look ahead to 2013 and focus on the key trends that customer service professionals need to pay attention to as they plan for success this year. Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report is here.

PERSONALIZE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Trend 1: Channel Preference Is Changing Rapidly

Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, and digital channels like chat and email. Channel usage rates are also quickly changing: we’ve seen a 12% rise in web self-service usage, a 24% rise in chat usage, and a 25% increase in community usage for customer service in the past three years. Expect customer service organizations to better align their channel strategy this year to support their company’s customers’ needs. Expect them to also work on guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time sensitivity of interactions.

Trend 2: Mobile Solutions Are Becoming A Must-Have

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Nuance Acquires VirtuOz. What Does This Really Mean?

The word on the street is that Nuance is buying the online virtual agent company VirtuOz for an undisclosed sum (see the TechCrunch article here). So what does this acquisition mean?

Let's start with Nuance. Nuance’s solutions help engage customers with what it terms “smart, automated conversations.” Its customer service solutions revolve primarily around the voice channel and support both inbound and outbound interactions. Nuance’s main building blocks focus on speech and touch-tone automation solutions, speech-enabled call-routing solutions, voice authentication, and outbound notifications. Recently, it launched Nina, a virtual assistant product targeted at the enterprise for mobile customer service. Again, Nina leverages much of Nuance’s core expertise in voice biometrics, speech recognition, text-to-speech rendering, and natural language understanding to empower customers to ask questions and receive relevant answers to questions like “Did my last check clear?” without tortuous back-and-forth conversations between the customer and the service organization.

What Nuance does not have is a complete customer service solution, being so focused on voice interactions. Specifically, Nuance lacks web self-service solutions to support the increasing popularity and usage of these digital channels. This is where VirtuOz comes in.

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Customer Service: Why It Matters — And How To Do It Right

For many companies, customer service is a cornerstone of their customer experience strategy. It’s an area of increasing importance because:

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