The average entry-level contact center agents earn $28,000 annually while the seasoned ones can bring home more than $41,000, according to the International Customer Management Institute, ICMI, not shabby for a career most enter accidentally.
In a vendor-sponsored study, “The Modern Agent: Understanding Performance, Productivity, and Positive Results,” ICMI finds that call centers have yet to empower their brand ambassadors to deliver optimal customer service.
The study resonates well with the participants of ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference being held in Orlando this week.
Most argue that technology, processes and culture make it difficult to pursue customer service as a career.
Justin Robbins, senior analyst for ICMI in an interview today said: “It is unacceptable that most contact center agents do not have the adequate technology. They perform in a complex work environment, navigate through multiple systems and applications and are over-stressed.”
Jeff Toister, the author of “Service Failure: The Real Reasons Employees Struggle with Customer Service and What You Can Do About It,” believes that multitasking leads to poor customer service and adds to the employee attrition.
“When you are on a call, looking up multiple applications, chatting with an expert or supervisor, it’s difficult to pay attention to the customer,” Toister said in an interview.
However, technology alone can’t do the trick.
“What makes you a good agent at JetBlue won’t guarantee your success at Disney,” says Toister. “Culture,” he says, “plays a key role.”
Toister argues that “culture” defined in the executive off-sites usually don’t reflect the reality of contact centers.
“How often do companies survey their agents?” he asks adding “imagine if you were surveying your customer for feedback once a year.”
Many start their career in contact centers not by choice, like Rose Polchin, a Senior Consultant for ICMI. She told the participants of her session “Contact Center Operations 101” that she started working as an agent as a college student but continued on after graduation.
That sums up the journey of the most contact center professionals.
But socializing with the participants of ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference you can’t really tell that these are “accidental” professionals. Most are passionate about what they do and are here for educational growth, networking, and sharing of proven best practices.