CXNext Live: New Research: How to Uplevel Employees with Knowledge Bases
The importance of frontline, customer-facing employees cannot be understated. As the people who directly engage with customers on phone or in person, they are at the forefront of your company as the face of your brand. That’s why new global research from Ovum is creating buzz by uncovering what these employees are faced with and how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver a better customer experience.
In a meta moment on Episode 7 of CXNext Live, Lisa Maland-Nelson, LogMeIn’s own frontline team manager who’s living the life that this research (and Bold360) are aimed at helping, weighs in on the findings with her first-hand experience. Here’s a sneak-peek at what Ovum found and what a customer care team manager like you is experiencing.
Leveling Up to Solve Complexity
Ovum reports that agents today are facing increased complexity. Customers expect agents to have all the answers even as technology, products, solutions, and engagement channels get more complex. Frontline agents know that first-call resolution is key to customer satisfaction, but only 35% of them achieve this. The biggest pain point is a gap in knowledge. Often agents have difficulties accessing information, and they lack a knowledge base to leverage for quick answers. It’s all eroding agent morale when they’re unable to meet customer expectations.
When Lisa started at LogMeIn in 2011, the call center was much smaller. Reps handled email and voice for just a few products. She’s seen exponential growth, not only in LogMeIn’s products, but also in what customers already know when they reach out. Essentially, all agents have leveled up – Level 1 (L1) reps are now acting as Level 2 (L2) – because customers are doing their own L1 support before they get to a rep. And with a more complex customer environment, given interoperability, security requirements, and a wide range of engagement channels, agents simply have more to handle going into every conversation.
The Importance of Training and Knowledge
Ovum reports that agents must be better equipped to attain success. Only 44% of customer-facing agents find initial training to be satisfactory; only 35% approve of ongoing training. When it comes to finding information to resolve customer issues, agents report turning to low-tech methods, typically asking colleagues for advice. For agents who have access to knowledge bases, these tools are highly valued but can be hard to search with disorganized and outdated information.
On her team, training used to take one week, but now it’s six, and that’s just to cover the basics of the products. The team also builds ongoing training into each week. There are costs involved, but investing in reps is important for employee retention. When the company invests in them, they become more invested in the company. The team takes regular surveys to ensure they’re valued and getting a return on the energy and effort they put in.
One of her team’s top challenges is searching multiple sources for information while a customer is waiting. Reps feel a deep sense of ownership to solve that issue, so they will typically look in the knowledge base first, before going to a L2 agent. To empower them to find what they need without escalation, LogMeIn’s chat team uses Bold360 Service, and the the call center team uses Bold Advise, which use AI to help discern the best answer and to serve up the next thing the rep might want to look at. This gives them the right head start to resolve customer issues fast.
Leveraging AI for Agent Advantage
Ovum reports that AI can transform customer engagement, but companies are still in the early stage of adoption and impact. Meanwhile, agents are onboard; Only 30% of them believe AI will replace them. Agents are increasingly recognizing the benefits of leveraging AI to improve customer satisfaction, drive faster response times, and provide more personalized customer engagement.
For long time, Lisa’s team had the notion that AI is way too complicated, but as they learned about the value to them, they are realizing AI is a partner not a replacement. Agents want to take care of the immediate issue at hand, but they also want to spend more time with customers asking about how they are using the product and learning more about their needs. For LogMeIn, like so many companies, customer retention is huge. AI frees up agents to have these higher value discussions, which demonstrates our investment in the customer’s success.
The support team helps develop what they want to see in the tool so that they are involved, engaged, and invested. Many companies will personalize their AI interface to encourage organizational buy-in. This is a strategy used at LogMeIn, too. The team is currently having a contest to name their AI solution. It takes AI from being an abstract, complicated, or scary tool to something we’re all involved with creating together.
Watch this CXNext Live episode for more insights from the new Ovum research and how LogMeIn’s customer-facing team is experiencing and acting on the results first-hand. Be sure to also download the full Ovum Research report, “Take a Modern Approach to Customer Experience: Empowering Your Frontline Employees and Agents – Leveraging Intelligent Tools for Maximum Impact.”