Is Agent Disengagement Leaving You Stuck in Neutral?

As a consultant in the business for over 40 years, I can walk into any call center in the world, and if I see agents who are standing up, I guarantee you they are non-productive and Average Handle Time is lower than the expectation.

Why? Because if they are standing up, they are talking to each other.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but typically, the more idle time there is in a center, the lower the AHT. What happens is this: when agents are idle, they talk to one another and the customer call becomes an interruption. They put forth minimum effort with the customer so that they can return to their “productive” conversation.

The result is lowered customer satisfaction, productivity, and in some cases, it can actually be detrimental to morale.

Agent disengagement is the difference between an agent wanting to do the job and having to do the job. Once agents have disengaged, they are no longer focusing on the customer.

They are stuck in neutral.

The way to combat this is to enrich the agent’s job in such a way that agents feel they have value and that they are more than just a tool or asset. This means providing agents with better tools and more training so they can improve their performance, combined with opportunities for advancement, varied uses of their talent, and getting them engaged as part of your company’s overall success.

[RELATED CONTENT: White Paper | Turnover a New Leaf: Reduce Attrition and Improve Agent Engagement]

Idle time – the natural downtime between customer interactions – can actually be productive. This time can be used to enhance the value of agents by providing specialized training on new practices and policy changes or doing something fun as a reward for good performance.

Do-nothing and idle time simply becomes time between calls for agents to engage in non-productive and sometimes disruptive behavior.

Instead, use this time for activities that make your agents more informed, confident, productive, engaged and better at their jobs and they will be more apt to help making your business successful.


About the author

Bob Fletcher

Bob leads the sales and solution delivery initiatives for Intradiem’s global business process outsourcing (BPO) clients, helping to transform their business models and drive profitability via Intraday Automation. He brings a wealth of operations, management and consulting acumen to the BPO practice, having delivered guidance to more than 1,000 call centers and trained over 5,000 managers and supervisors worldwide. Bob's experience includes executive management of Arvato's customer service operations and as executive vice president for Deutsche Telekom. Bob has also served in critical management roles in engagements with leading companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, Pitney Bowes, TeleDenmark, Gateway of Dublin, DecisionOne, Delta Dental, Wells Fargo and Cox Communications.

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