I recently posted a poll asking which kind of transmission is easier to operate when learning to drive. Even though a couple folks picked manuals, which I am still shocked by, the results looked pretty much the way I thought they would.
I learned to drive on an automatic transmission but did learn to drive a manual thanks to my college roommate teaching me. Pop the clutch, shift gears, monitor rpm’s, all while trying not to roll backwards down a hill after being stopped at a red light was annoying.
My automatic did all that shifting, popping, monitoring for me. All I had to do was just focus on the road. Press the gas pedal to go and hit the brake to stop. That was it. The learning curve wasn’t even close to the same and I learned I was cool sticking with an automatic.
Going through training as a contact center agent reminds me so much of learning to drive a manual transmission. Instead of pop the clutch, shift gears, monitor the rpm’s it’s look up data, switch systems, rekey data, navigate to the correct module, etc.
We recently started working with a contact center that has 17 different systems that their agents might need to interact with on any given call. Think about that. Remembering where to go and what to do on any given call is flat out complicated.
With all the new systems and tools that have been introduced to contact centers since the 1990’s, why hasn’t the agent journey been given the same attention that the digital customer journey has?
I get it, self service is great. But can anyone else relate to me when I say that I am guilty of not being able to figure something out and then smashing 0 for the operator when I really need some help. It’s the reason why there are still over 6 million contact center agents worldwide. People need help with complicated stuff. And let’s remember, when the consumer gets to the point that they need to call in they’re not always in the best mood. It’s not hard to understand why agents quit when their days consist of being spoken to rudely while having to remember all the manual call mechanics to solve a customer’s issue.
No matter how many screens, or sticky notes, or flow charts, or days of training, or Slack and Teams channels, or conversational AI tools an agent has, they’re still having to do all that manual shifting themselves. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The future of contact centers doesn’t look like 2 month long training classes so agents can remember what to do and when. An average agent turnover rate of between 30 and 45% yearly doesn’t have to be the status quo. Agents don’t have to wake up with anxiety every day because of all they have to remember while trying to help a customer.
The future of the contact center is one that will be much easier to navigate not by changing your core systems but by upgrading from a manual transmission to an automatic to eliminate those manual call mechanics that cause hold times and mistakes.