In an industry with historically very high turnover rates, finding and retaining top Agents is the key to long-term success. In fact, some sources cite that the turnover rate in the Call Center industry is anywhere between 30% to 45%. One-third of a company’s workforce is being replaced every year. The effectiveness of each Agent needs to be optimized, leaving little time to focus on your senior Agents, who regularly perform at a high level. When we asked our customers, we found that before using ABSTRAKT, they really only used their call center software to help analyze the performance of the bottom half of their agents. It surprised us to realize that Conversational Intelligence tools were not widely known in the Contact Center world. Very little time was ever spent on their tenured agents.
Even top performers have bad days
What happens on those days when your top Agents are not performing? Performance can slide for any number of reasons, and risking the replacement cost of your very best agents is just not a financially sound decision. As outlined in this report from USI, the true cost of not supporting all your agents is far more expensive than choosing to part ways with them when they have the occasional “bad day”? For example, turnover costs for just one frontline agent range anywhere between $10-$15K. This would include things like recruiting costs, hiring costs, training costs, and even unproductive training time.
Bad days can happen for any number of reasons. We’ve all had them. Poor night sleep, family not getting along, sick, newborn baby… Not a single person has a stress-free, distraction-free life. When we look a bit deeper, we realize there are two very different types of stress:
- Primary stressors. These happen as a result of the task in front of us. Examples might include things like noisy co-workers, system performance problems, and rude prospects or customers.
- Secondary stressors. These are things that are unrelated to the challenge itself. These might include fear of failure, feeling ill-prepared, lack of ability to control focus.
Stress is a transactional state
Some of these are controllable, some aren’t. As Call Center leaders, our goal should be to emphasize helping all of our agents control their controllables. We also must remember that stress is a transactional state, it’s not purely an internal response, nor is it something external to only oneself. Stress releases Cortisol, and depending upon the level of stress, the release of Cortisol into one’s body can last anywhere from 15-20 minutes, up to 90 minutes after the stressor has already taken place. Why does this matter? Because, in a stressful situation, it is common for one’s thinking to go from being more flexible, and revert to behaviors and habits that existed before that stressor. In short, stress is unavoidable, but stress also leads to poor behavior and tactics. What do we do about it?
Call center software deployed by organizations typically comes with a suite of features designed to help Agents in times of struggle. Whispering, joining, and call recording metrics with detailed analysis are all ways that Agents are supported by the organizations they work for and the software they have chosen to deploy. Let us explore an example scenario (one that happens all the time).
A story we all know, all too well
Senior Agent, Mary Smith works for a collections agency, trying to collect on past due credit card balances. When she got home last night, she learned that her husband had just been fired. With 3 kids all she can think about today is how their family is going to survive and pay the bills. She is currently making calls and more often than not faces customers who are not exactly happy to hear from her. Mary manages to connect with a prospect, and the call is not going well. All of her objection handling techniques have been forgotten, so her boss jumps in to save the call’s outcome. The prospect hangs up, and the opportunity to win that business is gone. Now, Mary Smith is even more worried because a couple of things just happened:
- Her boss had to jump in because she forgot what she had learned
- The prospect hung up, losing the opportunity to earn a positive outcome
- Her ability to perform is now being called into question, and naturally, she jumps to the immediate conclusion she is going to be fired.
Mary knows what is about to come next, a call coaching session and role-playing with her supervisor. Call coaching for Mary is her worst nightmare. She already knows what mistakes she made. Reliving them, as opposed to getting back on the phone compounds the issue as those are valuable minutes she could be spending on the phone trying to earn a commission to help her family.
How could this situation be avoided altogether? Simply put, not introducing more stressors into an already stressful situation. By leveraging real-time conversational intelligence software, integrated into your call center software technology stack all 3 of those extra stressors would have been avoided.
Real-Time Recommended Responses
By leveraging ABSTRAKT’s Real-Time Recommended Responses cue cards, Mary would not have had to worry about trying to recollect the best way to overcome the objection she just faced. Instead, the system would automatically prompt her with the correct ways to handle those objections. The call centers of the future, who look to mitigate the risk and cost associated with agent turnover will leverage Natural Language Processing and AI as part of their call center software technology stack.