Despite spending 69% of their budgets on staff, organizations are failing to invest in technology and training to enable call centre agents. The seventh Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report2005 reveals that attrition rates in contact centres across the world are continuing to rise, with annual staff turnover now standing at 23% compared to 19% in 2003. Staff within contact centres also feel isolated from the rest of the business — only 26% feel that they share the same culture as their organizations.
One of the main sources of frustration for staff is that they don’t have access to the information they need to deal with customer enquiries both during the call and in the wrap-up phase afterwards. For example, only 44% of contact centres are able to provide an end-to-end view of the status of customer enquiries, while only 50% of contact centres use workflow systems and have the capability to access images of scanned documents.
The lack of system integration in many contact centres also means that agents are spending longer on wrapping up calls (an average of six minutes per call) than on talking to customers (an average of four minutes per call). Calls are also taking longer to deal with than they did in 2003, with the average length of call standing at 240 seconds compared to 222 seconds two years ago.
Andrew Briggs, CEO of Customer Interactive Solutions (CIS) for Dimension Data comments: “Call times are extending but this is not necessarily a bad thing, because more time talking to customers increases the likelihood of satisfying them eventually. What is worrying is the apparent reluctance of organizations to invest in integrated technology that allows agents to wrap up calls quickly and satisfactorily.
“A lack of investment in technology and training fuels an increase in attrition, which generally leads to an overall decline in service quality. There is a huge opportunity to harness technology and increase the focus on training agents, growing their responsibilities to do more value-added tasks such as second line service and cross-selling, with automated services completing administrative necessities.”