Slow IT main contact centre gripe

IT slowdowns are the biggest drain on productivity in contact centres, according to reearch from Siemens Enterprise Communications.

The communications operator found that 63 per cent of the 500 agents asked thought that IT slowdowns affected their output, while nearly 1 in 4 calls are slowed down because of IT issues.

Multiple applications, regular IT slowdowns and burgeoning data entry tasks were also perceived to be at odds with contact centre productivity objectives, the survey found.

On average workers use five separate applications when dealing with a call and only spend 29 per cent of each call actually talking with the customer.

Head of strategy for Siemens Enterprise Communications Tim Bishop said he was "staggered" by the findings.

"What stood out from a technology standpoint is the number of software operations that agents are dealing with when they are with a caller - on average five systems. That staggered me. A further five per cent of the group admitted to having 15 systems through the call process."

In addition to their findings, Siemens Enterprise Communications found that 41 per cent of respondents want more IT and systems training, while a further 40 per cent want training in how to deal with tricky customers.

Bishop concluded that the only way to remedy the problem was to ask agents what would assist them in their productivity objectives.

"What we're seeing in an environment where an agent is spending their energy and creativity on technology, rather than with the caller," he said. "The proportion of agents that have all the information that they need is only five per cent. Thirty-seven per cent of agents said they had no details and 42 per cent said they had basic details."

"The building blocks are there for people to use integrated services and systems. But we seem to have a fragmented IT environment. The best way of finding out what can be done is by asking the agents and majority want to see changes to the IT processes that they use."