June 22, 2018 | By

A Better Customer Experience Starts with a Better Agent Experience

Without access to the right equipment and a good playbook, even the most accomplished athlete would have a hard time stringing together a series of victories. And the most experienced tradespeople can’t do their work without detailed engineering plans, specialized tools, and quality materials to complete a project. The same can be said for professionals in many industries, and customer service agents are no different. Without the tools needed to do a job well, even the best employees will produce sub-par results.

So how, as organizations, can we ensure the best possible customer experience?  Let’s start by looking closely at the agents’ experience.

What’s throttling agent productivity?

The explosion of digital channels that customers use to engage with companies they do business with has left support agents toggling numerous screens, switching platforms, and juggling knowledge bases. That combined with increasingly ambitious SLAs is making it tough for agents to do their jobs well. The pressure to remain productive in an omni-channel environment is becoming too great, and customers are taking notice.

A recent ICMI study found that there were 3 top drivers of customer dissatisfaction:

  • The agent was unable to assist or resolve an issue
  • The customer experienced a long hold or delay in response
  • The agent gave the customer the wrong answer.*

These results are not because agents are apathetic and don’t want to do a good job – it’s because they don’t have the right tools to deliver the experience today’s customers demand.  They are using multiple applications for each channel of engagement – none of which are integrated – so they are spending valuable time switching between these systems to try to help customers.  This leads to a disconnected and prolonged experience that often times doesn’t even solve the issue leaving both the customer and agent frustrated.

How can I empower my contact center agents to be successful?

The best place to start is with an evaluation of your contact center application ecosystem. Are agents clumsily flipping between siloed applications while talking or texting with customers? Can they be integrated to enable your agents to nimbly search, navigate, and interact with customers without skipping a beat during a conversation? Are agents able to interact with intra-departmental colleagues for guidance on solving complex customer inquiries?

No matter which contact channel your customer uses to engage your customer service team, it becomes the “face” of your company. Conversations often transition between live chat and a phone call, and customers who prefer to serve themselves often transition between a knowledge base or Twitter online help to a community forum, then to an online chat.

Knowing that this is the world we live in today, customer service and experience leaders are acknowledging that a good customer experience starts with a good agent experience.  So what does that look like?

  1. Customer profiles need to be consistently discoverable from one representative to another, and across every channel from a “single pane of glass” dashboard view. Agents should have a complete view of the customer’s journey so that they can provide richer, more personalized experiences with every interaction.
  2. Agents need to be able to quickly communicate with other team members, without leaving a customer on hold, or wondering if their inquiry was received. The tools agents use, both internally and externally facing need to be integrated, and easy to use so your customers can get answers without interruption.
  3. AI-powered tools are helping to offload the repetitive, mundane work from live agents – allowing them to spend more time focusing on customers that truly need them.  AI is also helping agents create better, personalized experience on the backend by serving up recommendations and information in real-time.

Is your company looking to drive more productivity out of your support center without overwhelming agents or compromising customer experiences? View our infographic, “Agent Productivity: Three Tips to a Better Agent Experience to understand the changes you should make to take agent productivity to the next level, delight more customers, and drive down costs.

*ICMI, 2017 Toolkit: How to Become a Successful Omni-Channel Contact Center, Sept 2017

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