According to new research carried out by the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) and supported by Intradiem, two-thirds of customer service agents report that their job is as difficult or more difficult than it was a year ago.
More than one in four agents say they are unhappy in their roles, and one in three is considering quitting in the next year.
The survey uncovered a disparity between the intentions of businesses and the reality of agent life. When asked, ‘Why has your work become harder?’ three key findings emerged:
- Outdated processes: As customer interactions and expectations increase, agents say contact centre processes have remained static, making it harder to keep up.
- Rising customer expectations: Satisfying higher expectations even as access channels expand requires greater agility, but additional training and resources have not kept pace.
- Well-being/Recognition gap: Many agents report feeling undervalued and overlooked, despite putting in substantial effort to deliver quality customer service.
The CCMA report highlights the need for businesses to adapt to these evolutions by reinforcing agent support with additional training and recognition. Such improvements will help boost agent engagement and productivity.
“Across every industry and every contact centre, frontline colleagues are dealing with growing complexity,” says Stephen Yap, Research Director at CCMA. “This research reveals how helping our frontline colleagues to navigate complexity is the cornerstone to unlocking their engagement and productivity. Recognition and rewards are incredibly important, and workplace technology can have a transformative impact if implemented well. When aligned with the right tools and the right culture, complexity becomes a powerful positive force: it makes frontline jobs more interesting and delivers better customer outcomes.”
Nerys Corfield, Director at Injection Consulting, said: “These findings highlight the gap between industry progress and the ongoing challenges facing customer service agents. However, the report also shows that some businesses are getting it right, nurturing positive cultures and investing in technology to provide much-needed supportive tools.”
She continued: “Agents don’t want to be burdened by complex enquiries and often underperforming technology. This is ‘bad complexity’. As detailed in this report, it’s a concept that deserves serious consideration and should be what businesses consider before implementing technology.”
Matt Rumins, Head of Customer Success at Intradiem, added: “Inflexible schedules, monotonous tasks and challenging customer interactions are just some of the factors that can lead to agent stress and burnout. With the expanded capabilities of AI-powered technology, it’s now possible to automate many of the repetitive, time-consuming tasks in an agent’s day. Customer service agents can focus on more challenging, yet fulfilling interactions, which boosts job satisfaction and productivity.”
Intradiem believes technology should be used to empower workers, not replace them. Our patented, AI-powered contact centre automation technology integrates with WFM, ACD, and other systems and processes their data output in real time, revealing unused capacity that can be redirected to its most productive use. Through real-time monitoring of schedules, call volume and workflow, Intradiem delivers unprecedented call-handling support and identifies opportunities to deliver breaks, training, and other time-sensitive tasks within the flow of actual conditions. We help contact centres boost operating efficiency, enhance agent engagement, and improve end-customer experiences while delivering concrete savings and same-year investment return.
About the research:
The research, which looked at what factors are boosting and hindering engagement amongst customer service agents, comprised of two phases. In the first phase, 339 interviews were conducted with contact centre colleagues from advisory, team leader and management roles. In the second phase, the findings were shared with contact centre leaders who provided commentary and context.