Nearly two-thirds of customer service agents are satisfied in their jobs and millennials, the largest workforce demographic, are even more so with 70 percent of them saying they like what they do according to the just-released Aspect Agent Experience Index. Yet, despite the agent satisfaction reported, multiple research firms including Gartner and Juniper Research are predicting chatbots or A.I. will replace nearly all live agent interaction in the next several years.
According to the customer service agents surveyed, 70 to 80 percent of the calls an agent receives each day consist of inquiries that require minimal effort to address. This is important because 65 percent of consumers feel great about the company they are engaging with, as well as themselves when they can solve a problem without having to talk with a live customer service agent. To the casual observer, it appears chatbots could be the beginning of the end for customer service agents as we know them.
However, the Aspect Agent Experience Index tells a different story. While nearly half of contact center agents confess to wanting to handle easily-answered customer questions, when tasked to take complex calls, a large majority of agents see a lot of opportunity:
- 79% say when the introduction of customer service chatbots enable them to handle more complex questions, they will be able to improve their skills
- 72% say handling complex questions makes them feel like they are making a bigger impact on the company
- 64% say they will be able to create a more personalized service experience for customers
The Aspect Agent Experience Index also found that agents who felt engaged and empowered at work are more likely to have a positive perspective when handling complex customer inquiries. Empowered agents are more likely than the average agent (by 5 – 8 percentage points) to say handling harder questions would make their work more interesting (77%) and feel that they are more in touch with their customers (71%). What’s more, nearly 70 percent of engaged and empowered agents say handling complex customer inquiries will allow them to create a more personalized service experience. Indeed, 83 percent of consumers say getting a personalized customer service experience is very important to them according to the 2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index
“Simple inquiries handled by agents tend to be very brief, and little if any interaction or engagement takes place. Question complexity, therefore, becomes a more fertile opportunity for skill growth and career advancement,” says Joe Gagnon, Aspect Chief Customer Officer. “Over half of the agents we surveyed (57%) feel they have a better chance of moving up in the organization if they can demonstrate more subject matter expertise. So when chatbots take over “easy-question” management, they satisfy the interaction preferences of customers and at the same time engage and enlighten the employee. It’s truly a better-together solution.”
Rather than a personnel replacement then, the customer service chatbot becomes a junior associate for the agent, handling lower-skilled tasks and freeing agents up to handle the work that requires domain knowledge and a personal touch.
To see the full survey findings of the 2017 Aspect Agent Experience Index, click here.