Imagine a fire department where two-thirds of the firefighters on duty weren’t ready to respond to a call. How about a restaurant where two-thirds of the wait staff weren’t talking to patrons. Both of these situations would be totally unacceptable. But it’s actually the everyday reality at the contact center, according to Gartner’s recent report “Rampant Employee Disengagement is Driving Turnover and Harming Customer Outcomes.”
The study found that only about one in every three reps felt engaged in their work. While the vast majority of neutral or disengaged agents felt like they were trying their best, they also reported feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion and indifference. Clearly, when the majority of the workforce is burned out, the problem runs deeper than adjusting individual behavior.
Here’s how employee disengagement is hurting contact center CX and what you can do to motivate your agents again.
Employee Disengagement Drags Down Customer Experience
Disengagement doesn’t simply lower morale; it affects performance as well. And when agent performance suffers, so does customer experience. In fact, disengaged agents engage in behaviors that drive a high-effort customer service experience three times as often as their engaged counterparts. Some of these behaviors include:
- Failing to provide first-contact resolution (16%)
- Making customers repeat information (21%)
- Failing to reduce the number of steps customers must take to resolve their issue (9%)
Employee Disengagement Increases Costs
In addition to hindering customer experience, employee disengagement costs contact centers in constant job turnover. The report found that disengaged agents were 84% more likely to look for a new job than their engaged peers. Even neutral reps are 43% more likely to engage in job-seeking behaviors. With the average cost of turning over a single rep standing at a whopping $14,113, a high number of agents looking to jump ship is a serious financial liability. What’s more, agents tend to perform better once they have a certain level of experience. Having to continually onboard new agents makes this challenging to achieve.
Disengagement is Driven by the Work Environment
If you think constant disengagement is about the people you hire and not the environment they’re working in, think again.
According to Gartner, the largest predictors of employee disengagement are knowledge management and well-being support (66%), and the lack of role and goal clarity (90%). These factors can be addressed through work environment changes — including using the right software solutions. While it may be a difficult conversation to have, the tools and environment you offer clearly dictates whether employees will be motivated to perform at their best.
Redesign the Work Environment to Tackle Disengagement
One misconception about the rise of employee disengagement blames the shift from an in-person to a largely remote work environment. However, Gartner discovered that a total of 51% of surveyed service leaders found the transition to work from home actually improved their employees’ engagement, and 34% found that engagement stayed about the same. Reversing the rising trend of disengaged agents therefore requires leaders to rethink how their work environment impacts employee experience.
Whether you have an in-person, remote or hybrid workforce, think carefully about the processes and tools that facilitate agents’ day-to-day work. Gartner recommends two key ways that contact centers can redesign their work environments:
Align metrics with business goals:
Too many contact centers focus on the wrong things when looking to measure agent success. Ensure that agents know what they’re actually working toward — and why.
Focus on agent well-being:
A great employee experience equals a great customer experience. Giving employees a chance to take a break and recharge when needed can prevent burnout down the road.
Agents are much more likely to be engaged when they feel their employers empower them with the tools they need. This includes giving them the technology to quickly access the knowledge they need and to simplify the increasing complexity of their jobs. Agent assistants are a perfect example. By automating mundane tasks and feeding agents relevant information and cues in real-time, software like Agent Assist can help combat the root causes of employee disengagement before they drag down your business.
For a closer look at the true cost of employee disengagement in the contact center, check out our webinar: