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How Automation Can Support Agent Wellbeing.
April 26th, 2021
How Automation Can Support Agent Wellbeing.
Mission Labs have been advocating for automation in contact flows for years and have repeatedly implemented robotics to improve our clients’ operations. There are a tonne of benefits that automation provides to businesses and customers. But there is huge potential for your agents to feel the day to day benefits the most.
Automation can transform the contact flow of any contact centre and shift the emphasis of your agent’s role dramatically. In a high-pressure environment like a contact centre, there is huge potential for automation to have profound effects on AX and wellbeing in your business.
Agent Wellbeing Matters.
Customer service roles are among the most stressful in the world. Contact centre agents have some of hardest and emotionally taxing work going - 74% were at high risk of burnout at the height of the pandemic last year.
In a highly monitored, high occupancy role, which can involve talking about difficult subjects, sometimes with challenging customers, this is not just understandably tough but essential for employers to manage. Studies have shown that as many as 43% of contact centre agents want to leave their jobs with workload and dealing with people issues being the biggest stress factors.
Employers able to tackle these problems and improve AX at their contact centre will not just be providing vital mental health support on an individual level, but better staff retention and job enjoyment metrics.
How Automation Helps.
There is a perception that automation is an existential threat to workforces - this has traditionally created anxiety in employees about how automation might affect their jobs. Mission Labs believe that automating contact flows in a meaningful way can not only improve efficiency and CX, but improve agent experience as well.
Improving CX improves customer mood.
AI understands customer intent, helps cut down on queuing and can give faster responses than human agents. This makes for a happier customer - when the agent is introduced to the customer along the new contact flow, there is a good chance they are more satisfied and less aggressive to the agent.
There will always be angry customers and contact agents will always have to face them. But automation can slash the number that agents need to deal with, as well as the time customers need to spend in the contact journey and, hopefully, how angry they are by the time they meet the agents.
Automation can create a contact flow where the human-to-human contact point is positive, brief and valuable. Applied correctly, it can cut down on contact with agitated individuals, removing stressful interactions from the standard customer support journey and giving agents a much more pleasant job to do.
Taking the right tasks away.
One of the greatest benefits automation offers is its ability to make agent roles more specific and geared towards valuable customer support work. Applied correctly, robots can take away stressful or mundane tasks which have traditionally been left for agents.
ID&V, for instance, is a high volume task that is typically repetitive and standardised - a key stressor for agents.
Mission Labs worked with Hackney Council to automate their ID&V processes, producing significant results for their contact centre. To optimise call handling for rent and leasehold services, we built a solution using Amazon Connect to automate the ID&V stage, removing agent responsibility (unless callers were unsuccessful with the automated contact).
After one week of our solution being implemented, ID&V rates with call automation were 47%. Deflection rates reached 32%, and later hit 35% after we refined the solution with more time. Hackney Council could handle more contact from citizens and agents could make sure interactions were meaningful and helpful.
For many companies, automation has not only helped to reduce metrics such as average handling time, but it makes agent workloads more manageable. Most businesses should already be considering automating tasks like ID&V for the sake of both efficiency and CX. But given the additional improvements it offers agent experience, there can be little doubting the impact of automation for such tasks.
Making Agents Better Prepared.
Agents want to do their jobs well - by giving them the tools and technology they need, you can greatly improve their productivity and outlook. Just as desktop tools like our product SmartAgent can provide all the information required to manage contact, automation can make everything from data to insights to customer profiles far more accessible. Far from threatening their job, automation can make agent tasks easier. This can only mean good things for their job satisfaction and overall well being.
When working with PrettyLittleThing, we designed a bespoke chatbot, ‘Madison’, that could respond to common customer questions and retrieve customer information in real-time, without the need for agents.
PrettyLittleThing’s former system was making contact handling unnecessarily complex for agents. Their email capture form was creating long paper trails and required manual investigation work; a non-intuitive chat system meant only one query at a time could be handled by agents; and their CRM consisted of several systems for matching information like customer orders and returns. This scattered system meant agents were spending more time and energy on simple information gathering, which was not only detrimental to the customers and the PLT brand, but also the experience of the agents.
‘Madison’ was designed to retrieve more customer information at a much faster pace. 70% of customer contact related to orders, returns or refunds is now handled by Madison. 38% of contact is deflected without any human involvement and 32% is partially dealt with before agents take care of a customer’s needs more directly. PLT’s agents are also using SmartAgent, which provides the ultimate CRM system for simplicity.
Transforming the workloads of these agents, allowing them to carry out more valuable and engaging tasks to help customers, has benefitted not just PrettyLittleThing and its customers, but also the agents carrying out the most important customer support work. Using automation in this way empowers agents to perform their jobs as best as they can, allowing them to feel more motivated and satisfied in their roles.
Automating Contact Flows with Mission Labs.
With years of experience implementing robotics solutions for clients, we can help modernise your contact centre and bring the benefits of automation to your workforce. Our client success stories have often been characterised by automation with positive implications for agents.
Businesses have an obligation to their employees as much as they do to their customers. There are countless ways that employee wellbeing can be supported by contact centre managers. Automating contact flows to make work more enjoyable for agents is a potential route we believe businesses can take to make a meaningful difference to agent wellbeing.
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