In this automated, tech-orientated world is the contact centre agent evolving faster than ever? The modern contact centre agent requires more knowledge, initiative and empathy aligned with an adeptness with technology and data to deliver genuinely good customer experience. We asked Marketing Director, Tommy Lai, where you find these ‘CX Heroes’. Better yet, how do you shape the CX Hero?
Technology – friend of foe?
It’s challenging for your agents – they are humans inside an automated world. The tech is constantly evolving, ramping up. And it generates more and more data and processes for them to keep up with and understand.
Plus, omnichannel keeps getting bigger and bigger. Frequently, the customer will have already engaged and interacted in a number of ways (such as chatbots, website, IVR) before they speak to an agent. So, the agent has a lot to absorb, quickly. Your agents need to be comfortable with automation and technology.
And if your organisation is reaching out proactively to customers, it must be done well – intrusive or badly timed communications with incorrect information have a huge negative impact on a customer’s experience with you. And, it’s your agents that bear the brunt of that frustration – they have to rectify the situation.
It’s about more than personality, training and customer service capability of individual agents. The ability of an agent to properly harness technology, making sure that they are fully aware of the recent and longer-term history, has become a critical part of efficiently handling customer interactions. But don’t underestimate the impact of an agent’s expertise in problem solving, knowledge and empathy.
Tech drives the evolution of the agent. It all hangs on a customer getting the right answers at the right time, throughout their journey. This relies on technology as much as skilled CX agents.
Really good CX means meeting the customer wherever they choose to communicate with you. They want a resolution no matter whether they call, email, message you on a chatbot or something else. The pace is set by the customer. They have no regard or interest in your SLAs or procedures.
To deliver a happy journey for the customer, coherent and consistent access to data and records of previous interactions are pivotal. Holding all that information is only part of this. You might as well not have the data, unless you can compile it in a way that can quickly be absorbed and acted on by the agent. A contact centre agent is thwarted unless they can see the full picture about the caller and get to grips with the issues they want to solve (and their history). Understanding this relies upon easy, fast access to multiple systems and previous interactions with chatbots or other agents.
Customers are time precious and easily frustrated. The smart way to handle this is to focus on the customer, not the channel. Pulling customer interactions into a single view rather than channel views is the first step.
Your customers are likely to touch more than your contact centre, so you can enrich your customer interactions using intelligent automation, for example using RPA robots to pre-populate forms based on the customer’s journey through a website, or to update multiple inventory, logistics and staffing systems following a delivery change. The customer experience is little more than using the site or providing minimal information.
A switch from the automated chatbot to a chat with an agent should be seamless. Repeating the questions or information that the chatbot has already covered will create a disgruntled customer, so they must be able to see the previous conversation and do more than the chatbot – can the agent offer different solutions or discounts for example?
Automaton, chatbots, artificial intelligence have a role to play in building the better picture for the agent. Take NLP (Natural Language Processing) as an example, which can become better at comprehension than humans. All this data keeps the agent properly informed and therefore when they interact with the customer, they are more likely to be able to improve CX and improve productivity.
Once they’ve got to the root of the problem, does the agent have the ability and permission to fix it? For example, are they allowed to agree to upgrade a customer? And do they have the ability to push this through the organisation for processing? Or will further authorisation decisions be needed? This means further delay to the customer.
So, to deliver good CX, your agents need these three A’s:
- Access to reliable tech and automation to reduce the effort required to really understand customers.
- Authorisation to use tech and process to help customers reach resolution.
- Ability to harness tech and expertise in service of the best CX.
Even as technology builds an ever more complex ecosystem around the engagement, the agent is the heart of everything. You need both to be fully-functioning, efficient and fast for successful CX.
Developing more CX Heroes
Technology has created a more complex world for agents and customers. It’s also opened up new opportunities. The data boom has exposed the greater need to translate it into useful information. It’s also released innovative potential trapped in organisational silos. Agents are valuable assets applying empathy and expertise to new data pools and customer journeys, especially for sensitive and complex interactions.
Navigating the breadth of omnichannel conversations, and adjusting engagement styles accordingly, is also an art. I like that analogy because art is something that humans produce using their cultural knowledge, empathy skills and flair.
Some contact centres aren’t ready to reassess the service-level agreements (SLA) that agents are judged by. Maybe there should be an SLA on the length of time to deal with a call. Or maybe you are ready to look at Total Experience (TX) taking into account the agent resolving the issue prevents a second or third call from the same customer to chase up and try to get to that resolution… that’s a win for both customer and organisation.
And, if the agent spots a way to proactively resolve this for other customers and raises it to other departments, the changes might mean that many calls from other customers are avoided… This is heroic CX! It improves the relationship between your organisation and many customers and is more important that the original SLA.
So, how do you empower your agents to embody this heroic CX persona? Plus, smarten up the metrics with which a contact centre is measured, to align with customer experience.
It helps that the benefits are even greater than improved CX, we know the commercial value of customer retention over marketing to new customers. Staff turnover can also be improved by enabling agents to feel engaged and that they are genuinely helping the callers they interact with.
Tech that takes the strain
The Liberty Platform is designed to empower your CX culture. Liberty Converse and Liberty Connect support your agents with fully integrated omnichannel view of their customers and reduce the friction that can arise from supporting multiple digital channels. Our solutions can help you create more effective employee experiences that improve performance, and empower agents to embody your CX ambitions.Ask us how