Challenged with emotionally-charged customers and a fast-paced work environment, customer-facing representatives are far too often experiencing cognitive overload, compassion fatigue, burnout and turnover—reaching upwards of 30-45% annually. Organizations must better understand how the current state of work impacts agents and customers to reach higher levels of service experiences.
To understand today’s complex service landscape, Cogito surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their sentiment on the customer service industry and their experiences. According to the findings, about three quarters of respondents (72%) find representatives who lack empathy or come across as cold to be an annoying and frustrating behavior to experience during a call. The survey reinforced the need for organizations to leverage emotion AI to alleviate work challenges and improve performance outcomes—with a keen eye on in-the-moment coaching and guidance to support conversational flow and better customer experiences (CX).
Assessing Sentiments Towards Service Representatives
Customer service representatives who understand and empathize with callers’ feelings make stronger human connections and deliver more positive experiences. Over half of consumers (54%) believe it is very important to experience empathy in service interactions. How something is said is equally important as what is said. Frontline agents who foster meaningful connections can achieve more consistent and empathetic communication.
Certain mannerisms of representatives can also impact the service experience. For example, in the survey, 62% of consumers felt that representatives with low energy created frustrating experiences and 65% felt that representatives who are slow to respond to a question or comment negatively impact their interaction. Leaders who are attuned to what makes customers tick and are tasked with implementing ways to create success within the organization—like introducing emotion and conversation AI—can build better relationships with customers and ensure agents have the support they need to perform, no matter the call.
Navigating the Great Resignation to Drive EX and CX Improvements
The Great Resignation is being felt at scale across industries, with 4 million Americans quitting every month for nearly a year, fueling uncertainty and creating new challenges. The call center, however, is no stranger to turnover. Harvard Business Review explained that the average customer service representative between 20 and 34 years of age stays for just over one year.
The constant state of turnover is one of the biggest challenges for call center leaders, surfacing the importance of well-being initiatives within the organization to attract and retain talent. By dedicating time and resources to helping customer-facing employees reduce stress, rather than managing it, finding ways to make work breaks more intentional and encouraging genuine human connections, leaders can better prioritize well-being. The result of doing so pays off in the customer experience—nearly three quarters (74%) of consumers agree that the employee experience (EX) impacts the customer experience (CX) according to our survey, where unhappy or unsatisfied employees had a negative impact on respondents’ experiences as customers.
Making a Case for AI Coaching and Guidance
It’s time for brands to sound the alarms: 77% of consumers are likely to end their relationship with a brand or business due to a poor customer service experience. And historically, acquiring a new customer is five times more costly than retaining an existing one.
Luckily, this is where technology can support employees charged with providing service and the customers experiencing it. AI coaching and guidance technology has the capabilities to drive emotional awareness, provide contextual guidance and empower the workforce, all in real-time. Interestingly, most consumers (72%) agree that if a customer service representative used AI technology that coaches them to have better conversational skills in real-time, they would have better experiences or service interactions, paving the way for greater openness to technological advancements and usage.
As brands look to create better experiences for both ends of the service line, providing agents valuable guidance and technology support to be better at their jobs will elevate the entire agent-customer relationship. It’s imperative for the organization’s retention and continuity that technological advancements are embraced to streamline both sides of the customer and employee experience.
Survey Methodology: Dynata, a leading market research company, conducted this survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers (ages 18-65+) on behalf of Cogito.