• November 10, 2022
  • By Caroline Co, principal product manager, Five9

Can AI Mitigate Quiet Quitting in the Contact Center?

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We’ve experienced many workplace trends over the past few years: remote work, the Great Resignation, the revitalization of the gig economy. The latest to enter the scene is quiet quitting, probably the most controversial trend of the bunch. On the surface, quiet quitting revolves around the mind-set that workers are not going above and beyond within their roles, and just meeting their job description. Despite the negative connotation associated with quiet quitting, it’s doubtful the trend will be going away anytime soon. According to a survey from Gallup, quiet quitters make up at least 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.

The bottom line of quiet quitting and any workplace trend really is that businesses want to avoid turnover. In the tail end of 2022, employee engagement took a massive dip, with the same Gallup report indicating a staggering 18 percent of worker dissatisfaction: the highest it has been in over a decade. Disengagement hit 16 percent the year prior, and 14 percent in 2020, showing a concerning trend of drops in employee engagement as more and more socioeconomic factors emerge to disrupt the livelihood of workers. For employees to stick around, they need to be happy. And for contact center agents, operating under a strict eight-hour schedule of yelling conducted by frustrated customers, makes a common case for burnout and overall dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, there are solutions and technologies available to contact centers to help their agents find the work-life-balance that quiet quitters seek out. The work of a contact center agent is often disheartening, as dealing with low patience customers comes with the role, but with new innovations emerging in this space every day, the job can become more rewarding.

Finding Work-Life Balance Through Innovation

In contact centers, every employee deserves purpose and progress (career development, happiness, productivity), which is also known as the “why” of their work. Without these aspects of growth, burnout looms as a very probably threat. In customer service roles particularly, having the flexibility to step away is necessary for employee happiness and productivity. To improve the livelihood of their agents, there are a multitude of technologies available to contact center agents—especially those with premises located in the cloud—that business leaders should implement to establish a more fruitful work-life-balance. For starters, AI can be used in offloading more mundane, repetitive calls to an intelligent virtual agent (IVA), which allows human agents to focus on the more difficult aspects of customer service. Meanwhile at a basic level, workforce management technologies can empower agents to have far more influence over when they work in advance, while allowing for flexibility in scheduling as needs change. Of course, this can be implemented seamlessly to ensure that customers are still receiving optimal service.

Addressing Concerns and Mitigating Backlash

Over 67 percent of executives surveyed for a Deloitte study stated that they were not at all comfortable using advanced automation, such as AI, as a key component of their business. This high percentage is not surprising; there have always been concerns about AI, especially when it comes to replacing human work. For contact centers, concerns span across a variety of topics, including lack of control, ethics, and privacy. Contact center leaders should encourage the continuing practice of monitoring: recording calls, screens, and selectively playing back customer interactions to evaluate satisfaction and any potential issues. To further mitigate backlash around privacy, technology like auto scoring provides the same insights that help orient training and coaching to make human agents more successful within their roles, without worry that someone is listening in and evaluating calls unfairly. Frustrating interactions are common in contact center roles, and agents should not be punished by a human moderator for rude customer interaction. The use of auto scoring prevents this possibility.

Adjusting Agent Workflows to Accommodate AI  

In addition to concerns around the replacement of human jobs and privacy, contact center leaders must adjust their agents’ workflows to accommodate AI, if it is to be implemented successfully into employees’ day-to-day. AI holds a lot of potential for customer service, but to address any initial struggles associated with long-term strategies, starting small and targeted is key. For instance, leveraging interaction analytics when customers call in with common process issues helps quickly identify the route of the problem, leaving human agents to handle the more complex questions. As a safeguard, companies should have a quality management program in place oriented toward their AI agents to gain insights into the totality of the customer experience. Running interaction analytics on all IVA interactions also help ensure that interactions with newly implemented AI capabilities run smoothly.

Using AI to Future-Proof Against the Next Workplace Concern

Quiet quitting may come and go, but it’s guaranteed that there will always be another workforce trend waiting around the corner. While most employers have experienced varying levels of employee engagement over the years (and the challenges associated with resignations), quiet quitting is more nuanced. Although the work of a contact center agent comes with many more frustrations, work-life-balance is something that every employee should have. Agents are not expendable, and leaders in this space can utilize advanced technologies like AI to help their employees establish boundaries, increase productivity, and accelerate their careers.

Caroline Co is principal product manager at Five9, bringing over 15 years of experience in enterprise software product management and as a marketing leader with expertise in scaling businesses and delivering profitable growth. Skilled at building products, she develops marketing plans, and drives go-to-market strategies. She has a long track record of building strong relationships with sales, partners, and customers.

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