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Reducing the impact of attrition in the contact center with customer-led voice assistants

May 11, 2023

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The repetitive nature of an agent’s role, combined with a lack of development, high pressure, low pay, and unpleasant calls, are just some of the reasons the employee turnover rate in contact centers remains 30-45% above the average of other occupations.

Attrition costs companies as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per contact center agent. In a contact center of 100 agents, attrition costs between $300,000 – $900,000, impacting their ability to scale operations, increase productivity, and improve service quality.

In this blog, we will explore some of the reasons behind increasing agent attrition rates and how customer-led voice assistants can manage increasing call volume, help contact centers scale, and empower agents.

Why are attrition rates so high?

Common reasons for increasing agent attrition rates include the following:

What is the impact of attrition on the contact center?

Almost 50% of all contact center employees plan to leave their current role within a year and a half. Attrition is a major problem and is having an impact on contact centers in the following ways.

It makes the customer service provided a lot weaker

With a lack of capacity to handle calls, customers face longer wait times and increased time to resolution. Some customers will struggle to get through to speak to an agent at all, increasing call abandonments.

The proficiency of agents decreases with a higher number of inexperienced agents on calls. As a result, the standard of service drops and has the potential to impact brand reputation, increase complaints, and cause lower CSAT scores.

The impact comes as a result of inadequate knowledge of processes, products, and services among newer agents, who require more time to gather information and respond to customers. When customers don’t receive the standard of service they expect, many will share their negative experiences with friends, on social media, and on review sites.

Replacing agents is expensive

Onboarding and training a new agent is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $15,000. This cost doesn’t account for the loss of productivity during the training process.

An agent’s ‘speed to competency’ is the period it takes for an agent to train, become productive and independently manage customer calls.

Getting an agent to a stage where they are ready to take calls can take months, during which they aren’t contributing productive minutes on the phone in their first few weeks. Each non-productive week costs the contact center thousands of dollars.

When new agents are ready to take some customer calls, they require intense management support and oversight, causing disruption to service continuity in other areas of the contact center that need experienced agents.

Agents experience low morale

When agents resign, the remaining staff have little choice but to pick up the increased workload.

In a contact center with high attrition, customers have already spent a long time on hold and are likely to have exhausted self-service channels. Customers who connect with an agent are more likely to be frustrated, resulting in negative interactions.

Increasing call volume, limited opportunities to take comfort breaks, talking to disgruntled customers, and the pressure to adhere to strict call handle times contribute to low agent morale.

Low morale can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and further agent turnover.

How do customer-led voice assistants reduce the impact of attrition?

As companies search for ways to retain staff, many are turning to customer-led voice assistants to automate the voice experience and alleviate the pressure on the contact center. Gartner predicts that conversational AI will automate six times more agent interactions in 2026 than today.

Here are three ways customer-led voice assistants can help contact centers reduce the impact of agent attrition, increase productivity and create better customer experiences.

1. Reducing call volume

By handling routine queries and FAQs, customer-led voice assistants alleviate the pressure of high call volume on the contact center. This gives much-needed time back to agents so they can take a comfort break, get a hot drink, and step away from their desks.

Agents can also use this time to handle more fulfilling and complex customer engagements, improve service quality, and lower cost to serve.

Voice assistants that engage in customer-led conversations give callers the freedom to speak however they like and earn trust by understanding callers and delivering helpful responses through natural conversations. As a result, customers don’t feel the need to talk to an agent, and the voice assistant contains more calls.

2. Scaling phone support

Previous efforts to scale contact center operations have involved investing in bigger premises, paying for more agent software licenses, and hiring and training fees.

It can take agents 3-4 months of training to get to full productivity. Customer-led voice assistants enable contact centers to scale their phone support more efficiently. Unlike legacy voice technologies, companies no longer have to provide large amounts of training data for voice assistants to handle customer calls effectively and at scale.

Large Language Models (LLMs) are trained on vast data sets and only require a small amount of training to understand callers in new contexts. This means deploying a voice assistant is achievable in weeks.

Companies aren’t charged for the time a voice assistant isn’t answering calls. Instead of paying for licenses and staff to scale operations, companies can adopt a usage-based pricing model, allowing them to only pay for the services they use.

Investing in customer-led voice assistants enables contact centers to answer thousands of calls simultaneously, scale quickly, answer calls efficiently, and effectively manage peaks in call volume.

Customer Story

Landry’s Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos scaled its operations at a time when hiring and retaining agents was an ongoing challenge.

Landry’s launched a PolyAI voice assistant to answer front-desk calls at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas property, which saved them from missing out on $600,000 in revenue in just one month by handling front-desk calls and hotel reservations. That’s almost $7.2m a year!

The assistant now takes hotel room reservations over the phone and has expanded across all Golden Nugget properties.

3.Empowering agents

42% of workers consider leaving their role because they do not believe their current job is using their skills and abilities well.

Agents that are empowered with the right resources, knowledge, and skills to resolve customer problems have greater job satisfaction and are more likely to deliver positive customer engagements.

Customer-led voice assistants work with agents to resolve customer problems efficiently. If a voice assistant needs to transfer to an agent, it will send the information gathered from the conversation in a structured and usable format. An efficient handover empowers agents to resolve the issue, dramatically reducing call duration and improving customer experience.

Conclusion

The high attrition rate in contact centers is a persistent problem that significantly impacts the quality of customer service, productivity, and agent well-being. Companies can mitigate this problem by investing in customer-led voice assistants to reduce call volume, scale phone support, and empower agents to deliver better customer experiences.

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