What’s wrong with the way we look at contact center employees?

Which of these statements is true?

Statement 1

Contact center employees are a vital link to the customer.  Through the way they exercise their talents, knowledge, and resources, they are uniquely positioned to influence customer perceptions of the enterprise and build or diminish the brand promise.

Statement 2

Contact center employees are among the most poorly paid and under- appreciated employees in the enterprise.  They have limited career growth opportunities, are measured and evaluated more frequently than any other group of employees, and incur the highest turnover rates.

Of course, both are true in most organizations.

Help me do my job better!Benchmark research from Richard Snow at Ventana Research shows that for phone interactions, “the primary negative experiences for customers are waiting a long time in a queue, navigating through a complex interactive voice response (IVR) system, having to repeat information, talking with an agent who has a bad attitude, being passed from repeatedly from one system or agent to another and most of all, not getting the issue resolved. Conversely, good experiences include talking with a pleasant, knowledge agent and getting the issue resolved at the first contact. Beyond that, excellent experiences include having the agent recognize you, know all about you (including your past interactions regardless of the channel of communication) and personalize the response (such as making a special offer).”

So the role of the agent is a critical cog in the customer experience. Why don’t more contact centers take steps to better equip agents to do a better job/deliver better experiences? And why don’t more organizations elevate and recognize the contact center and its employees for the important role played in customer experience and brand promise delivery? In my opinion, a disproportionate investment is made by marketing in communicating the brand and the brand promise, and not enough is invested in ensuring the contact center employee can deliver the right experience when a customer contacts them. If you invest millions in brand marketing but your employees can’t consistently deliver good, or even great experiences, the marketing investment is worthless. What do you think?