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Professional Listeners Eliminate Stigma for Contact Center Agents

July 09, 2008

Contact center agents sometimes have a reputation for being disloyal, unmotivated, poorly trained and having a bad attitude. While some can easily argue that this is true for some agents within specific contact centers, recent research has shown that this stigma might actually be unfair.

Siemens (News - Alert) Enterprise Communications recently commissioned independent research to look beyond the technology employed in U.K. contact center environments and into the habits, tips, thoughts and working practices of the workers themselves.

To gain a clear understanding of the U.K. market, the research questioned more than 500 contact center workers in the U.K. These centers comprised a combination of inbound and outbound workers across both the public and private sectors.

According to this research, there is a new breed of Professional Listener emerging in the industry that is loyal, motivated and highly satisfied. This individual is set against a backdrop of ever increasing process and proliferation of IT applications that are needed to do the job.

The survey identified key trends that provide insight into where contact center improvements could be made and how to achieve best practice. One key highlight is that the Professional Listener has the same career aspirations as any professional workers in any other industry.

Such aspirations have in effect created loyal employees that want to stay in the same job for more than two years, on average. These individuals crave training, seek to improve and desire higher pay.

The Professional Listener is one who has 4.3 years of experience on average; has 2.2 years average job tenure; is loyal to the company as 44 percent would like to progress within the department of their current job; prefer work flexibility as 77 percent of non-home workers would like to work from home or a combination of work and office; and they are typically satisfied – 53 percent are satisfied and 17 percent are very satisfied.
 
“The Siemens findings are at an aggregate level, but if you disaggregate the data there is a significant variation in the experience of contact centre workers. We agree that contact center work is becoming more complex, and that contact center workers identify with the job and want to do a good job,” said Jeannie Drake, Deputy General Secretary at the Communication Workers Union, in a statement.

“Skill levels are rising, and contact centre workers want to be committed to their company and to customer service. Attrition can be quite low where people have permanent jobs in good companies.”

“Contact centers have been undergoing a quiet revolution for some time now – increased automation and efficiencies gained through better working practices and increased usage of unified communications technology,” said Tim Bishop, Head of Strategy at Siemens Enterprise Communications (News - Alert), in a company statement.
 
“This research uncovers one of the key drivers behind this transformation: the Professional Listener. The results clearly challenge the traditional stereotypes of contact centre workers with the modern worker seen as motivated, loyal and keen to progress.”

“At Siemens we are constantly looking to improve the contact center experience for both the Professional Listener and the customers that they serve. It is great to know that over time the industry has matured to such an extent that people coming to work within it are seeing it as a valid and valuable career choice,” added Bishop.

U.K. contact centers employ almost 300,000 people in the U.K., which equates to 1 percent of the UK workforce. The progressive automation of processes over the past decade has provided contact center managers with a variety of data at their disposal to develop informed strategy and business decisions. As such, improvements in overall operations should not only be easy, but inevitable.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.
 
 
 Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is ApplianX IP Gateway as a VoIP-Enabled Programmable Switch, brought to you by Aculab (News - Alert).

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