90% of managers think they treat agents as brand guardians, yet only 33% of consumers agree.
Calabrio, workforce performance company, found a direct correlation between contact centers, brand loyalty, and brand revenue. The global research report, State of the Contact Center 2022: Empowering the Contact Center as a Brand Guardian, uncovered a surprising gap between the role contact center agents play in consumer brand perception and how much employers support and empower those same agents to be brand guardians.
Both consumers (97%) and contact center managers (98%) agree that customer service interactions have an impact on whether consumers stay loyal to a brand. And a vast majority (88%) of contact center managers also agree that brand perception directly affects overall company revenue. When positive customer experience (CX) interactions boost loyalty, revenue follows.
“We know that contact center interactions can make or break a customer relationship, leading to increases or decreases in revenue,” said Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO of Calabrio. “How smoothly those interactions go is a direct result of how agents are trained and how they are supported with the right tools and technology. It’s critical for brand loyalty that agents feel confident to make the right decisions at any given moment. And the most efficient way to improve the customer experience is to empower contact center agents as brand guardians.”
The jump to the cloud revolutionized how agents work and learn, opening opportunities to build stronger customer relationships. To accelerate this, agents now need a more flexible and more autonomous work experience, accessibility to best practices, and digital tools that help them shape the optimal customer journey across all interaction channels.
In short, agents need to be truly empowered as frontline brand guardians to protect revenue streams.
Voice Reigns Supreme
AI-powered chatbots have gained in popularity, but 80% of consumers still rank phone interactions as their preferred customer service channel. Yet contact center managers have a mismatched perception of how important voice channels are to brand image. Managers ranked voice channels third, behind email and web interactions.
This gap may be leading to a misplaced focus on newer channels, such as social media and apps. Instead, consumers overwhelmingly think contact centers should prioritize agent training (70%) and fill staffing gaps (58%), instead of adding more channels like chatbots or virtual assistants.
Loyalty is fleeting. Bad experiences have big impacts, with 60% of consumers saying they switched brands due to a negative contact center experience—most leaving after only two negative experiences. Even a single negative experience significantly damages consumers’ perceptions across future interactions. In fact, consumers with a recent negative experience were less than half as likely to say contact centers were doing a decent job in any category. In other words, recency bias is powerful—and it is hard to recover once consumer confidence is lost.
Other Critical Disconnects
The study shows significant gaps between consumer experience and the service contact center managers think they deliver:
- Availability of human agents: 80% of managers think they meet or exceed customer expectations for access to live agents. But only 37% of consumers agree.
- Quick response times: 79% of managers think they meet or exceed customer expectations for response, but only 45% of consumers agree.
- Needing to feel heard and understood: 84% of managers think they meet or exceed customers’ needs to feel heard and understood by the brand, but only 45% of consumers agree.
“Consumer expectations continue to grow, demanding better and faster results. In the eyes of the consumer, contact centers are not doing enough to empower agents on the channels that have the most impact on brand perception,” says Blake Morgan, Calabrio customer experience futurist. “Managers acknowledge there is work to do, but the question is, how quickly can changes be made to protect both the brand image and revenue?”