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Contact Centers Value AX. It’s Time Contact Center Executives Do, Too.

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Experience is the oxygen of organizational success. On one hand, you have customers, who hold businesses to the highest standard when it comes to every point of contact with your business. On the other hand are your contact centers, agents – who work with your customers nearly every minute of every day. Despite this, if customer experience (CX) and agent experience (AX) are two sides of the same coin, rarely does the C-Suite treat them equally in practice.

As CX continues to dominate as a leading brand differentiator, many contact centers take a results-driven strategy, benchmarking metrics to ensure long-term growth and buy-in from executives. AX, meanwhile, isn’t nearly as codified. According to the recent State of Agent Experience and Engagement in Today’s Contact Centers study, conducted by NICE inContact and ICMI, contact centers source employee feedback with varying frequencies – 91% of contact centers are most likely to conduct monthly surveys, but 79% also conduct daily surveys. As 86% of rank employee experience as the leading factor in delivering customer experience, being able to consistently source, understand, and act on feedback is critical.

A structured approach to AX improves contact centers’ ability to make the business case for a comprehensive and integrated experience strategy. Here’s why:

AX Drives CX

The adage goes, “Happy employees make happy customers.” In fact, studies have shown a direct link between employee satisfaction and bottom line growth – the businesses featured on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list saw an average stock price growth of 14% year-over-year compared to 6% overall market growth. Yet, the experience economy, with its emphasis on customer-centricity, has driven businesses to prioritize one over the other.

Because CX relies so heavily on AX, it is time for your top executives to embrace comparable metrics like engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty. When the majority of customers are willing to switch to a brand competitor after one poor customer service experience, a holistic approach is the only way to reach growing customer expectations.

Codifying AX Reduces Attrition

One of the leading issues facing contact centers is attrition. According to Aberdeen, 32 percent of contact center leaders cite finding and retaining qualified staff to be a top challenge. Just as contact centers look to foster loyalty among customers, they need to prioritize the long-term opportunities of keeping agents happy and invested. There’s a significant cost-savings at play, with research finding that the average cost of replacing and training an agent is $12,000.

Our research of contact center agents and leadership found that while helping customers is one of the highest factors contributing to agent satisfaction, the number one cause of agent attrition in the contact center is a lack of career advancement opportunities. One of the most powerful ways to combat this is to draw a clear and direct line between performance metrics and those of the contact center. The more agents see how their goals contribute to the success of the organization, the more likely they are to see a clearer path for growth and development.

Customer Needs Are Changing

Customers have quickly and enthusiastically embraced digital omnichannel experiences, with 91% expecting omnichannel functionality. As a result, contact centers are retraining their agents – but with varying degrees of success. According to agents, the number of channels they are balancing is the second most common stressor (67%). Contact centers cannot close this gap by taking a patchwork approach to agent training since omnichannel is here to stay.

Interestingly, agents recognize the importance of developing these skills for both their careers and the success of the contact center, with 54% of agents viewing supporting multiple channels as a positive career move. Furthermore, it has a direct impact on compensation. In one-third of organizations, agents who handle multiple channels as opposed to one are paid nearly 10% more than their peers. Taking agent training and growth seriously not only improves performance and metrics today, but also lays a strong foundation for the unpredictable ways customer preferences evolve.

Bringing AX to the Top

As the personification of the brand, agents require the utmost level of support from senior executives. A strategic, metrics-driven plan must be in place in order to track and benchmark experience success for the brand.