Research launched by Jabra recently reveals businesses are struggling with culture, technology and processes that are preventing them from creating sufficient working conditions for some of their most highly valued workers. These workers are struggling to create productive working environments, with research showing the most productive customer service profiles up to 47% more productive compared to the least productive. As customer calls are getting more complex, the research reveals that the winning companies will be the ones that invest in ensuring working conditions allow for concentration and efficiency of their workers.
For employees who add significant value through conversation with customers on the phone, there are many complex issues with ensuring productivity as a result of interruptions, noise and their working environment. The availability of multiple communications methods for customer service, such as company websites, email or instant messaging, means on-the-phone conversations are even more value-creating.
Conversations on the phone are rare yet are often a key moment when customers find that other methods have failed. Yet for those responsible for those conversations, as many as 36% think there are too many interruptions from colleagues throughout the day, and on average 34% find noise levels in their working environment too distracting. These are rated far higher than factors such as number of calls per day or too few breaks between calls. They are therefore prevented from producing that value in a productive manner and as a result, businesses need to re-think the culture and tools they offer in order to fully enable and maximise the resource of these highly valuable employees.
Holger Reisinger, SVP, Jabra, comments: “Within every business there is a group of employees who spend a significant amount of time and effort on their call-based communication. Conversations that this group are having are important in-depth discussions, bringing significant value and adding to the success of the business – they represent the organisation publicly. Yet organisational culture doesn’t prioritise enabling productivity for these individuals, and too often it’s not a consideration at all.”
The research defines four groups of workers that are focused on bringing business value through conversations through calls with customers, and have varying priorities depending on whether calls need to be handled efficiently or should deliver strategic value. Some invest more time on calls, some more concentrating in preparation for calls. Each of these four profiles – call center agents, civil servants, traders and advisors – are all struggling at different levels to achieve concentration, avoid interruptions, and over-communication through too many meetings and too many emails. As well as technology issues, they all experience challenges with their physical working environments, with open plan offices in particular adding to the concentration challenge.
The group of employees defined as civil servants, those working in HR or IT support for example, take over 20 calls a day that are complex and require high levels of concentration in between calls. They are often working in a highly stressful environment due to the volume and unpredictability of calls. Yet the most negatively impacting factor on productivity for around 35% of this group, is noise levels in the surrounding environment. This group, like the other profiles, independently seek ways to help them achieve more. For example, over 40% of support experts listen to music while working.
For the profile defined as traders, which includes workers like account managers and consultants conducting in-depth, important calls up to 25 times a day, the value of their conversations could be as important as closing a deal. However 35% of this group feels that noise levels are too disruptive for them to be productive.
Whilst many businesses recognise the importance of customer service, the value this group of workers offer is due to their interaction with customers. They should therefore be the same priority level – especially as research suggests perception of customer service does not match the reality that customers experience*. 80% of organisations say they deliver excellent customer service, yet only 8% of customers agree*.
Reisinger comments: “Communication trends between customers and businesses have shifted a lot in the last five years, the variety of methods customers can use now means that the phone is now a rarely used tool. Yet people naturally seek the empathy and decision making possible only through real human interaction. Any opportunity to speak with customers on the phone are more valuable than ever before and investment in supporting this group should be a strategic priority for any business in order to make sure those conversations deliver the value customers expect.”
Jabra is a leading international developer and manufacturer of a broad range of communications and sound solutions committed to let people hear more, do more and be more than they ever thought possible. The consumer and business divisions of Jabra markets corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that empower individuals and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality. Jabra employs around 1000 people worldwide and in 2015 produced an annual revenue of DKK 3,229 million.