“Contact centers are becoming dreaded instead of celebrated”. This statement is the main conclusion derived from studies conducted by the Consumer group Which? in the UK and EvaluAgent. Almost 40% of the call center agents in the UK don’t feel empowered to resolve customer issues, and 71% of agents feel their conversations are too scripted to satisfy a customer. Consequences can be painful: 85% of consumers state that they will take action after a bad customer experience: stop their contract (86%), ask to speak with a supervisor (65%) or vent frustrations on social media (42%).

More than 7,000 consumers are surveyed on their experiences with call centers in the telecommunications, insurance and banking. They found only just over half of mobile operators (58%) answered calls in the first five minutes, compared with 83% of banks. Around 17% felt the person they spoke to at their operator had poor or very poor product knowledge.

In addition to this study, EvaluAgent conducted a separate study to the operations of 15 leading UK contact centers. Its findings reveal some of the issues that seriously undermines the customer experience:

–   4 out of 5 team leaders feel agents are consistently failing to resolve customer queries
–   40% of agents don’t feel empowered to resolve customer queries
–   Under a third of team leaders feel they are capable to provide the support their agents need.

Other studies have revealed the impact of poor customer service and unmotivated agents at call centers:

–   86% of consumers stop their contract (Harris Interactive)
–   71% of agents cannot resolve issues because they are bounded to scripts that are different than the conversation (Customer Experience Management)
–   65% ask to speak with a supervisor (Five9)
–   42% vent their frustrations about a bad customer service on social media (Lithium Technologies)
–   Employee turnover in call centres remains high, replacing agents can cost around $10,000 to $15,000 on average (Merced Systems)

Being the crucial link between senior management and agents, call centre team leaders and managers don’t have an easy job. They continuously need to keep a healthy balance between the needs of the agents, the customers, and the company. However, according to these studies, it is important that team leaders and managers:

–   Provide their agent the level of freedom they need to provide exceptional customer service.
–   Invest in developing a searchable knowledge base, instead of over-scripting agents.

By giving agents the knowledge tools they need to provide service and removing the limitations of a script, agents can better listen to the issues that customers report. It enables them to search for solutions and provide the best solution(s) to the customer—thus empowering agents to provide service.