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Differing pandemic experiences between contact centre managers and agents highlight need for further process and tech assessment

New findings highlight executive/agent disparities surrounding success of technology investment amid CX digital transformation ramp-up

Despite technology being seen as crucial to effective remote collaboration and the delivery of seamless customer experience (CX), the longer-term success of recent pandemic-driven investments is still up for debate, new research from Netcall has revealed. During the pandemic, tech proved vital to keeping the lights on and delivering consistent CX – but as we now move again, cracks are starting to show.

In fact, the research highlighted growing gaps between agents and business leaders when it came to the success of customer experience and the ability to continue business as usual during the pandemic. Almost all of the upper management/decision makers surveyed[1] agreed that new technology investments during the pandemic have meant that customer experience has remained consistent. This sentiment was lower amongst agents, of which just 67% agreed. Whilst the c-suite was focused on keeping the business alive, agents faced a very different experience at the sharp end of the CX exchange, where they directly serviced desperate customers.

Similarly, when asked further about the impact of new pandemic technology investments on the quality of customer experience, most upper management agreed their contact centre had been able to resolve customer inquiries quicker, and that first contact resolutions have increased significantly. But just over half (52%) of agents agreed, suggesting that even if the management performance metrics were positive, the agent experiences were less so. At board level, technology enabled leaders to continue delivering services in a time of crisis. However, as highlighted by the findings, those operating on the front line saw things differently. Whilst the pandemic brought out the best in many organisations in terms of innovation and investment to keep the lights on, normal is now being redefined. Flawed processes, metrics, tools and experiences are less tolerable.

This senior/on-the-ground disparity is highlighted further when asked about the effectiveness of self-service tools. Most executives/owners and almost all upper management/decision-makers agreed that self-service tools have positively impacted the customer journey during the pandemic, enabling contact centres to be available 24/7. Again, agreement was significantly lower amongst agents, at just 55%, indicating that for those operating at the coalface, current self-service tools, and the processes that underpin them, aren’t always having the desired impact.

Now that the initial impacts of the pandemic have subsided, these findings highlight an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of agents and other stakeholders within the contact centre to understand and expose any inefficiencies surrounding internal processes. This is particularly important given that 65% of all respondents agreed that demand within the contact centre had increased since the pandemic, meaning they are now having to deal with significantly more requests each day. Over a third (69%) of respondents also agreed that contact centres had adjusted to more digital interactions than before the pandemic, as consumers became more digitally savvy, highlighting a greater need for effective tech.

Ken Ume, Product Marketing Manager at Netcall, comments, “The next logical step for businesses is to build on the achievements deployed under fire during the pandemic. Those operating within the contact centre now have an opportunity to refocus on internal experiences and metrics. After all, positive internal experiences can only improve agent and customer experience. A key task is to create metrics and programmes that close the gaps between agent experience and performance. Removing some of the repetitive/tedious frustrations, opening up more autonomy and also harnessing frontline expertise to create new experiences are just a few examples of leadership decisions that can be accelerated by technology and changes in culture.

“There is no doubt that additional technology investments will only benefit the contact centre, as demand continues to ramp up, but business leaders must ensure that tech works for everyone. Culture has shifted during the pandemic, and it’s now – rightly – much more inclusive. Everyone can contribute to making things better. Rather than a free-for-all, it’s about enabling more experts in your organisation to contribute to how you move forward. This isn’t about digital transformation – it’s far more about ongoing ‘digital-first transformation’”.


[1] Base sizes for senior management are too small for the % to be reported

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