Industry Research : Survey Shows Sales and Support Agents Waste Over a Half-Billion Hours Every Year Using Bad Software
Freshworks Inc., a customer engagement software company, announced research results showing that U.S. sales and service agents waste a combined 516 million hours a year trying to navigate the software they are forced to use. The wasted hours searching for information, clicking through confusing menus, working around glitches and missing functionality represent a whopping $8.3 billion in lost productivity every year.
The "Voice in the Choice" survey, released at Freshworks' user conference, Refresh '19, reveals a possible culprit in the software selection process, with nearly all end users reporting they have little to no voice in how software is selected. The impact of this top-down "software dictatorship" goes beyond the enormous cost and time loss, extending to employee morale, retention and even customer satisfaction.
Selection without representation is tyranny, report suggests
The survey, which questioned 400 frontline customer service and success employees, showed that respondents feel powerless to determine which software they use, with 96 percent having little or no influence into its selection. Likewise, 57 percent have no clue who chooses the software they use, and 43 percent don't know why the software was chosen. In fact, respondents indicated that they have greater control over snack selection at their offices than they do regarding the software that they use day in and day out.
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Employee's influence in decisions affecting their work-life
- Personal work schedule (28 percent)
- Seat or desk assignment (20 percent)
- Office snack selection (17 percent)
- Software they use (7 percent)
Conversely, when it comes to the biggest impact on end users' ability to do their jobs well, software becomes the top factor. Forty-seven percent say the software they use has a major or complete impact on their ability to do their jobs well.
Work-life factors that improve employee performance
- Software they use (47 percent)
- Work schedule (41 percent)
- Seat or desk assignment (16 percent)
- Office snack selection (6 percent)
Impact on companies, end-users, and customers alike
"Sales and support agents at the front line of customer care often deal with the negative implications of a bad software selection," said R "Ray" Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, Inc. "This happens not by malice but often because the vendor selection team fails to include the input of frontline employees. In fact, the selection team is often limited to managers who prioritize business requirements over end-user needs. The result is hours of lost productivity each day for every employee, along with a negative impact on customer service."
Similarly, the pain of software dictatorship has both quantitative and qualitative ramifications. Half (50 percent) say that when they have to use software they hate, it is harder for them to satisfy their customers. And one in five report that when they are frustrated with software, they are more likely to be rude to customers.
Exclusion from their organizations' software decision-making also impacts overall employee morale and, ultimately, employee retention. Nearly one in four end-users (24 percent) say that using software they hate makes them want to quit their jobs. This flight risk is more acute with millennials, with 30 percent reporting that handcuffing them to bad software makes them want to pack up and leave.
Tellingly, using "hated" software brings frustration and unhappiness at work to more people (26 percent) than the drudgery of long hours and working overtime (23 percent).
"This lack of employee involvement is an outrage for those on the frontlines of the customer relationship and should be a wake-up call for companies who are looking to increase both employee productivity and customer satisfaction," Freshworks CEO and founder Girish Mathrubootham said. "Organizations have a responsibility — to their employees, their customers and themselves — to bring the voice of their workers into the technology-buying process. The happiness of their employees and customers depends on it, as does the health of their business."
Creating a more perfect union between software and end-users
The survey revealed that increased user involvement not only increases productivity but increases their job satisfaction as well. End users report that if management involved them in deciding what software to use, it would make them feel respected (60 percent) and empowered (40 percent) while boosting employee morale (43 percent).
The data highlights the idea that many employees would rather have a vote in the software they use than traditional time-honored benefits. Of those surveyed, more than half say they'd rather get to choose the software they love than have a 401(k) or two extra days of paid vacation. Additionally, employees report that the resulting waste using ineffective software is impacting their happiness at work. Sixty-four percent of end users say being efficient brings them joy and fulfillment at their job, more than bonus eligibility (50 percent), friendships with colleagues (47 percent), career advancement opportunities (35 percent) or having stock options (18 percent).
A more democratic software selection process is required
Enlightened managers are adopting a more democratic approach to selecting software for net positive gains. Over half of end users say that helping to choose the software their company uses to engage with customers would result in happier customers (53 percent) and higher employee productivity (52 percent). In fact, over half of millennials (52 percent) report that they'd be at least 25 percent better at their job if they could choose the software they use.
"As our productivity and happiness at work becomes more closely tied to the technology we use, executives and managers have a true opportunity to make better software choices by giving a voice to their employees," Mathrubootham said. "Organizations can enact a more democratic selection process through a number of best practices, including employee surveys, pilot programs, employee committees and many other tactics to ensure worker voices are heard and can be as productive as possible."
About the Research
Freshworks conducted the "Voice in the Choice" online survey in August 2019 among 400 customer-facing sales and support employees in the U.S. who use software to engage with customers on a daily basis. Hours wasted each year were calculated using survey responses compared with external wage and employment data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Current Population Survey estimates U.S. sales role employment (excluding retail) at 5.6 million. Site Selection Group (a global market intelligence provider) estimates the call center workforce in the U.S. at approximately 3 million. Wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook reports the median pay for customer service representatives at $16.23 per hour.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Freshworks provides organizations of all sizes with SaaS solutions that make it easy for customer support, sales and marketing professionals to communicate effectively with customers for better service while also collaborating with team members to resolve customer issues. The company's products include Freshdesk, Freshservice, Freshsales, Freshcaller, Freshteam, Freshchat and Freshmarketer. Founded in October 2010, Freshworks Inc., is backed by Accel, Tiger Global Management, CapitalG and Sequoia Capital India. Freshworks' headquarters are located in San Bruno, Calif.
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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