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The turnover rate for call center support agents is high. According to the 2016 U.S. Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide, the average term for a customer service representative is 3.3 years. Additionally, 60 percent of the turnover rate is from agents quitting. The highest turnover rate across all industries studied was found in outsourcers, aka third-party providers.

No customer support job is easy, and call center agents are especially prone to emotional and physical burnout. Agents are expected to have flexibility, reliability, adaptability, and adherence to a rigorous schedule while meeting quotas and targets. Not to mention, they’re monitored by their bosses the whole time and often abused by angry customers.

Some agents are hard-pressed to follow impossible policies that conflict with call quantities and the ability to meet queue wait times. Call center agents are often denied breaks and chastised for not keeping calls under a specific time limit, even if the customer needed extra help. Customer service roles aren’t for everyone.

Management must oversee their teams constructively if they want to train effective service agents. Not all call centers are nightmares, but even the most well-intentioned managers struggle with high turnover.


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Provided that management is interested in developing and mentoring their teams, it’s possible to use artificial intelligence to reduce agent turnover rate.

Helping agents help customers

Artificial intelligence company Cogito is empowering call center agents to identify a caller’s emotions so they can better serve their needs. By combining behavioral science with AI, the technology is able to detect a person’s emotional state and determine how the conversation is going in real time.

This technology gives agents a hefty advantage; knowing when a customer is feeling agitated means the agent can steer the conversation in a more lighthearted direction while maintaining the integrity of the call.

According to Cogito, companies using this technology have seen a significant increase in customer satisfaction and agent engagement.

The company’s chief executive officer Joshua Feast told VentureBeat, “Our real-time emotional intelligence engine enables agents to be happier and more engaged in their jobs, customers to experience superior service, and companies to benefit from improved efficiency and increased loyalty.”

Improving the agent’s experience

The power of AI doesn’t stop there. Another leader in AI, Coveo, has technology that can help agents solve cases faster, become skilled more quickly, and provide faster and more accurate support to the customer.

The tech uses machine learning powered by AI to centralize the searchability of content such as knowledge articles, documentation, case history, and videos. The technology also makes it possible to embed a company’s knowledge process directly into the workflow.

Companies using the technology are solving cases with a reported 50 to 60 percent improved time to resolution, upskilling employees, retaining employees longer, improving employee satisfaction, and empowering self-service success.

Growing the knowledge base

With AI-enabled call center technology, a support rep can create a new knowledge article on the fly as they work on an incident, incorporating any other content that surfaces during their search. Content can evolve based on demand and usage.

An AI-powered search also helps managers and business owners understand how knowledge is used to support outcomes. They can see what sources are used the most, which sources support case resolution the best, and more. With these significant insights, companies will stop wasting their time editing content that doesn’t get read.

Making the agent’s job easier

Many agents complain about the time it takes for them to reopen a case, access a case opened by another agent, or retrieve the right data to serve the customer. AI-driven intelligent search makes the struggle obsolete.

Agents want to see their cases resolved from start to finish. They want customer problems resolved, and that’s not easy to do when they have to pick up where someone left off. Emerging AI technologies allow agents to see their cases through to resolution, which is proven to reduce agent turnover.

Customer support agents are happiest when they’re equipped to solve the customer’s problem to the highest standards. AI plays a huge role in their empowerment.

Once AI becomes mainstream for call centers, agent turnover rate will naturally drop, customer satisfaction will rise, and we’ll see customer service gain a better reputation.

Larry Alton is a contributing writer at VentureBeat covering artificial intelligence.

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