Why the concept of "The Power of One" is important to your contact center

How one agent can make a substantial difference

Research has shown that the main reason customers choose not to return is not because of pricing or product issues. Most customers don't return due to poor service. Your frontline agents can make all the difference. They can give every single customer a reason to return.

Sound like a lot of power? Well, it is.

Each agent in the contact center has the power to make an impact on every customer interaction. What’s more, is the effect of that single interaction isn't limited to just the single value of that call, or dollar amount of that order. Each individual interaction can have a tremendous impact on the entire lifetime value of the customer. If you treat a customer well, he will continue to do business with your company and tell others about his great experience too. As the customer’s lifetime value extends, so do the profits to your organization.

When we talk about the power of one, it’s important to not only consider one's impact on the quality of service, but also the direct impact on efficiency and cost in your call center. In this article we'll explore the impact a single agent can have and provide you with tips on how to incorporate "The Power of One" in your contact center.

One agent's impact on ASA

Let’s start by looking at one of the most important KPIs for any contact center: speed of answer. It may be obvious that one person could have a major affect in a smaller center, but the impact of just one agent can be significant even in larger groups.

Example: Your center expects to receive 750 calls between 9am-10am and each call takes 240 seconds to handle. Your call center’s goal is to answer those calls with an average speed of answer (ASA) of under 20 seconds. The table below shows what happens with varying numbers of staff on the phones, along with the resulting ASA and service level.

Workload
Hours
Available
Staff
Average Speed
of Answer (ASA)
Service Level
(in 20 sec.)
50 55 18 sec. 75%
50 54 28 sec. 66%
50 53 46 sec. 55%
50 52 84 sec. 40%
50 51 201 sec. 22%

As you can see, when plenty of people are in place, then the impact of one person isn’t too much. On the other hand, the difference between a staff of 52 and 51, increases the ASA by 117 seconds! In this case, when just one person is missing, your customers will have to wait almost 2 minutes longer - a wait that would be very noticeable to a caller and will very likely increase your abandonment rate as well.

One agent's impact on the workload of others

Delivering good service to callers depends on every single person being available when scheduled, but it’s not just customers that suffer when there aren’t enough people on the phones. It also means that agents have to work that much harder.

When staff aren’t available, occupancy rates will quickly rise, meaning the idle time between calls during the hour will get shorter and shorter. The closer the calls arrive with no idle time, the harder it will be for everyone to “catch their breath” between calls.

One agent's impact on costs

As we have seen; lack of schedule adherence can adversely affect both your customers and your staff on the phones. In addition, lack of schedule adherence can also significantly impact your operating costs. As staff become unavailable, delays increase, and your company is paying for every second of extra time that those callers wait in queue.

How to make your agents aware of their power

It’s important to realize that regardless of the size of your organization or the size of your call center, every person has the potential to make a very big impact. With every customer interaction, agents have the power to influence customer perception, improve speed of answer, keep occupancy at a reasonable level, hold down your costs and in the end, maximize customer lifetime value.

However, agents often times do not realize what impact they have on the bottom line of the company and often vastly underestimate their impact. This mindset can lead to quickly becoming demotivated and in turn, to poor performance.

A crucial thing to ensure with every (newly hired) agent, is awareness of the importance of their job and the impact they have. The importance of a telephone agent's job tends to be very undervalued, often times by the agents themselves, it is your job to change that perception as soon as they step foot inside your contact center. For your new hires, this topic should have a solid spot in your onboarding program.

The concept of The Power of One is not something you should emphasize in the beginning and forget about later either. To make agents constantly realize how important their job is takes continuous reinforcement. Below are some practical tips you can use to achieve that.

  • Have senior management drop in once in a while to show agents the higher ranks care
  • Implement a reward system
  • Provide frontline staff with ongoing training
  • Provide career progression options
  • Implement and refer the The Power of One in training and coaching sessions

"The Power of One" training by The Call Center School

The Call Center School has dedicated an e-learning course on this topic called The Power of One that you can easily integrate in your training curriculum.