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Your organization won’t be able to consistently deliver on its customer experience mission until you rid your contact center of all its agents. Agents are human beings, and human beings are by nature imperfect. How can you expect customers to rate their experience with your company a 5 (out of 5) if they are forced to interact with humans, who are inherently 2s and 3s?

The contact center front line is simply no place for a real person. So, if you haven’t already done so, you need to fire all your agents made of flesh and bone and replace them as soon as possible with advanced IVR applications and speech- and text-enabled virtual bots. The future of your company and your Net Promoter Score depend on it.

For those of you who need a little more convincing before fully automating the contact center and the customer experience, I urge you to consider the following major drawbacks of human agents:

Human agents have hearts. Hearts are easily broken – either by a bad break-up, a favorite sitcom being cancelled, or a request to work from home being denied. Studies show that agents with broken hearts are 73% more likely to sob during customer interactions. And while many customers are sadistic and like it when agents cry, most find it off-putting and awkward.  
 
Human agents have dreams. Dreams can too easily be dashed – either by a career path being too short (or non-existent), or by a supervisor telling an agent the truth about his or her IQ and potential. Studies have shown that agents with dashed dreams are 82% more likely to inhale lethal doses of helium from motivational balloons in the contact center. Studies have also shown that, after inhaling a lethal dose of helium, an agent’s ability to achieve first-call resolution drops from 68% to 3%.

Human agents have friends. Friends can be a tremendous detriment to agent productivity and focus. Agents’ friends – with no consideration for your contact center or customers – frequently invite agents to parties, dinners, weddings, etc., thus compelling agents to request specific schedules and days off that don’t always gel with the contact center’s needs. An automated IVR attendant or virtual bot, on the other hand, rarely gets invited to any social functions – except for when a caller is fooled by its advanced speech features and asks it out for a drink.

Human agents have bodies. Human agents have always been cursed with having muscles, tendons and bones that bruise easily during long stints of sitting in cramped cubicles and when slammed against monitors. Carpal Tunnel syndrome, back spasms, eye strain and concussions not only cost the company bundles of money in medical expenses, these problems greatly impair agents’ ability to pretend they enjoy their job. IVR attendants and virtual bots, in contrast, have no bodies and thus can handle thousands of customer contacts daily without any complaints about not being able to feel their fingers, toes or soul.

Human agents have tempers. There are only three absolute truths in contact centers: 1) customer contacts are constant; 2) customers complain a lot; and 3) constant customer complaints make agents want to hurt themselves and others. By fully automating your contact center, you greatly reduce the risk of the center being burnt to the ground and/or of you being beaten to a pulp whenever you leave your office during peak periods.


Down with People

Ridding your contact center of human agents means no more turnover and no more complaints about low pay, unfair metrics and bad schedules. It also means big savings on office space and parking, and on the amount of food that needs to be ordered for company picnics and holiday parties.

Sure, your customers will likely be outraged initially over not being able to reach a live agent, but if you take this article and use it as a script in your IVR and as an FAQ answer on your website, customers will soon understand that they are much better off interacting solely with machines. 


NOTE: Greg accidentally overdosed on his satire pills this week, which explains the nature of this post. The doctors say that Greg should be back to his normal, healthy level of irony and parody by the time his next post rolls around.


 
10 Reasons Your Contact Center Should Use Home Agents

1) Better employee retention. Most agents who plan on quitting to take a better-paying job – such as janitor or migrant farm worker – will reconsider if given the freedom to handle calls naked.

2) Expanded recruiting reach.
When seeking candidates for agent positions, you will no longer be limited to dropouts from just local high schools/colleges.

3) More flexible staffing/scheduling.
Such immediate access to their workstation makes it easy for off-duty home agents to work odd shifts and to save managers’ butts after inaccurate forecasts.

4) Higher productivity and quality.
The extra sleep and not having to suffer through rush-hour traffic enables home agents to stay focused and energized throughout the entire first half-hour of their shift.   

5) Decreased facility expenses.
You can grow the contact center without expanding walls, the parking lot, or the toilet paper budget.

6) Improved attendance.
Absenteeism and tardiness will drop, assuming you select reliable agents who don’t suffer from long-distance sleepwalking.

7) Enhanced disaster recovery.
No longer will road closures brought on by blizzards or Justin Bieber concerts bring employees and the contact center to a standstill.

8) Increased ability to tap “alternative” labor pools.
Going virtual provides job opportunities to qualified candidates who might otherwise be unable to consider contact center work – e.g., individuals with physical disabilities, older workers, or people deathly afraid of cubicles and industrial carpet.

9) More environmentally responsible.
Using home agents reduces vehicle pollution and gasoline/oil consumption; also conserves water since agents will no longer need to bathe, brush their teeth, wash their clothes or clean their wrist brace.

10) Improved call center aesthetics.
You can rid the center of the least-attractive and worst-dressed agents without losing their valuable skills and experience.