At many companies, the frontline of customer experience—the contact center—isn't meeting customer expectations. Although brands are adopting new technologies to better interact with customers and understand their wants and needs, the answer to delivering the right experience may be simpler than that.

At the very core of customer experience is human interaction, so to truly see return on customer experience investments, brands should invest in their most valuable assets: agents in the contact center.

According to new research from Calabrio (my company), customer demands are increasingly complex, the number of inquiries are swelling to new levels, and agents feel ill-equipped to solve the ever-growing list of customer requests.

There's a lot riding on agent interactions, and the lack of support has many representatives feeling stressed out, abandoned, and stuck in a pressure cooker of expectation. The effects of a burned out contact center workforce can be devastating: 82% of people have stopped doing business with companies because of poor customer experience.

Agents are in the precarious position of failing to meet customer expectations. To help them succeed, brands must take an employee-first approach. By taking the time to understand contact center headaches and investing in the agent experience, organizations stand to gain far more than any customer behavior tracking technology can deliver.

A stronger focus on agents helps brands keep up with customer experience demands, decrease employee attrition, and capitalize on growth opportunities. Here's where to start.

Measure what matters

Often, contact center agents are measured on criteria such as average call handle time or first call resolution, but those metrics encourage agents to get customers off the phone as quickly as possible. To drive desired behavior, managers should instead focus on equipping agents with the right tools to do their jobs more efficiently.

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image of Tom Goodmanson

Tom Goodmanson is president and CEO of Calabrio, a workforce optimization suite.

LinkedIn: Thomas Goodmanson

Twitter: @tomgoodmanson