Guide Your Agents to the Finish Line—and Beyond

Some people say that customers are the most important people to a brand. In many ways, I agree—but I think it can be said that agents are in the running as “most important people” to an organization. Agents are really the face of a brand. Whether in an in-person interaction, on the phone or online, the face they present colors the impression customers have of the brand. Ideally, every interaction is positive and leaves the customer happy. Realistically, that isn’t the case every time. But brands can take steps and implement technologies and processes to make it more likely every interaction is positive.

In fact, there are many things brands can do to improve both the agent and customer experiences. Omer Minkara, a research director at Aberdeen Group, outlined quite a few of those things in his report about the omni-channel customer experience late last year. He noted that most organizations are now focusing on improving the customer experience, and that lack of effective technology tools is a challenge impacting both the agent and customer experiences. Technology was highlighted as the main driver of a positive customer experience and it was grouped into three areas: providing a higher level of visibility into customer information; empowering agents; and guidance in issue resolution.

There are few things more frustrating for a customer than having to repeat their information for multiple people—especially if it happens during the same interaction! It’s one thing to verify details they have entered into the IVR to access their account…it’s another to tell the same story and answer the same questions for different people trying to resolve one issue. Visibility into customer history and information is crucial for a smooth, less-frustrating interaction. Organizations must make it simpler and faster for agents to access customer information. It would be even better if that information was available on one screen, without the need to toggle between programs, minimizing and maximizing screens and frustrating customers with delays.

Another important thing brands can do is empower their agents. Empower them with information! Agents should have a clear path to resolution, a formula for success, if you will. Successful brands provide the information agents need, when they need it, in a quickly accessible and easily understandable format. Whether it’s customer information, product ordering or escalation steps, smart brands do what they can to help their agents and not hinder them. The smoother and easier the agent experience, the better and more satisfying the customer experience. Think about it—would you prefer to sit on the phone waiting while an agent accesses your customer history…or would you prefer the agent has your background readily available to speed the interaction? Seems like a no-brainer.

Training is another important element of improving the experience for both agents and customers. Agents, by nature, want to help people. It’s nearly as frustrating for an agent when they aren’t able to help a customer as it is for the customer. And that frustration colors other interactions as well, causing a ripple effect through the agent’s day and multiple customers’ days. Simply offering training on products offered, technologies used and general customer service practices can be effective. And, again, it’s even better when the training is specific to common customer issues or challenges so agents have a ready reference guide and can keep things moving along…while resolving issues the first time.

Brands may have the technologies they need to improve the customer experience, or they may need a partner. Whether contact center duties are handled in-house or by a vendor, the Aberdeen report offers some solid insight and recommendations on technologies and practices necessary for improved experiences. Integrated agent desktops, real-time and predictive monitoring of customer actions and sentiment for real-time engagement, WebRTC, engagement on multiple communication channels…the list goes on.

It’s like we say at LiveOps: a better agent experience equals a better customer experience which equals better customer lifetime value—or BAX=BCX=BCLTV. Take a look at your contact center and figure out what you can do to ensure you lead your productive, efficient and satisfied agents to the finish line so that you also have happy, satisfied, can’t-wait-to-return customers.

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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