We asked our Product Marketing Manager, Nicky Hjerpe, how an organisation can engage their people, particularly in the contact centre, to liberate your CX ambitions and your brand’s CX values. In this blog, Ken explains agents must understand they can be responsible for customer experience (CX). For that to happen, the organisation must empower them to “own” it.
What does good CX look like?
For any staff member to deliver good CX, your organisation must clearly define excellent customer experiences. This is more than laying out a process to follow, which can inadvertently ignore what the customer actually wants to achieve when they contacted you.
A clear position on what good CX looks like is an essential starting position. CX isn’t just driven by your organisation. It must be shaped by what you can find out from your customers. You probably have a good handle on metrics such as first-time call resolution, call duration etc. It’s likely you also conduct some sort of survey with your customers, to assess their satisfaction with the service they receive.
You need additional data to reflect what’s happening in customer journeys across the organisation. And that will often be much wider than the contact centre experience.
Data driven CX
Retailers including Amazon, Starbucks, Ikea and ASOS have shown the importance of gathering data at every touchpoint and making use of all of that information. Building intelligence to direct stock buying decisions, marketing promotion to guide future purchases and planning staffing levels.
It’s vital to make that data and intelligence accessible to agents in a form they can make use of. Automate where you pull the data in from and how it’s presented to the agent so they can quickly understand it. The more automation and digital interactions you employ throughout your processes, the more data you can easily gather. Placing relevant customer data and critical information and tools at your agent’s fingertips ensures each interaction goes smoothly. As always, knowledge is power!
Agents are on the CX front line
Traditionally, an agent’s success is measured by the number of calls they can handle in a period of time — and how quickly they can move to the next interaction. And as digital becomes more pervasive, how many simultaneous digital interactions they can handle. A skilled agent can learn quickly what is important to the customer and knows how to resolve it for them. But their success at this is difficult to measure.
Customer satisfaction ratings and surveys add to the picture. However, that means you must ask your customer to spend more precious time telling you about their experience. Many won’t, and you may get an unrealistic bias — as customers who were dissatisfied usually stay on to complete the survey.
Traditional metrics of call times and KPIs are still useful. However, as demand increases there is an ongoing risk nudging agents towards an implied objective to “end calls quicker”. Rushing a caller off the phone won’t achieve high CX ratings and speeding though vital after-call work can lead to costly mistakes.
It’s time to actively combine qualitative and quantitative customer-centric metrics, like contact quality and first-contact resolution. You’ll find these are also more agent-centric as well. And they usually have a pleasing effect on average handling time and calls per hour anyway. It’s important to use these metrics to guide your automations to strip away the distractions that snatch attention away from customers before, during and after interactions. Allow your agents to focus on customers.
The agent needs to understand that they own customer experience. They need to appreciate the importance and take the responsibility of it. To get there, you must develop a strong culture of engagement.
Your organisation will need to give agents authority over their interactions. Harness their feedback in improving processes as well as wider CX strategy projects which may sit outside of the contact centre. Agent-input can help streamline activity in a way that very effectively helps both customers and agents. This influence and trust also empowers agents. When they can make decisions on-the-spot, give offers and make exceptions during any of their interactions with customers, they have the power to make life easier for your customers. The evaluation processes that you’re already using can easily be adapted to also feed in decision making on process changes as well as agent support and adherence.
Intelligent process automation is the future
Is this dream of a distant future? Many organisations are already embarking on these principles. The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has moved to interacting with patients digitally to free staff to help more people and Clyde Valley Housing Association has introduced low-code and contact centre technology to transform digital services for their tenants.
Many more need to start that journey. Fast.
Forrester recently featured on a webinar with us, looking at trends and priorities that are driving CX, particularly focussing on the contact centre and how it is evolving. They made the importance clear. Thomas Husson, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, told us that “AI will deeply transform contact centres” and explained how the correlation between employee experience, customer experience and improving business results works.
The real customer journey
Your operational processes were more than likely designed to deploy and manage your resources, based upon what you’re trying to do for your customers. Turn that around to what the customer wants, when and how. This takes agility and simple ways to adapt your processes and make them accessible to your teams.
How about if you allow your people to redefine the processes on the spot, as they work. Going outside of process parameters can achieve the right course of action for the customer and secure their future custom. Capturing the decision process as well as the outcome, can translate that instance of constructive rebellion into enduring, meaningful change.
Disney, endeavouring to elevate CX to a “magic experience”, takes a similar approach, allowing employees to change the rules so they can offer frictionless experiences. For example, restaurant hosts can track guests with a reservation to see if they are in the vicinity, or, if they are at another location in the park, other guests who are waiting can be seated instead, avoiding the loss of revenue and keeping everyone happy.
Is an alarm bell ringing? This constructive rebellion isn’t appropriate for all organisations, particularly those in regulated or critical environments. Deviating from the usual process, may mean that things get lost, right?
When you build in automation, you reduce and manage that risk, because information is always automatically recorded in the correct places. You also start to generate objective performance data to help validate the new process. More importantly you start to identify where to make changes that don’t require wholesale time consuming digital transformation. This is where your technology and software step in, augmenting and strengthening the good service that your agents can deliver.
Driving process improvement (without constructive rebellion)
Many organisations would opt for simply identifying failure and using this to drive process improvement, rather than enabling staff to venture outside of process parameters. For your contact centre CX strategy, you want to exemplify that Disney magic experience and have empowered employees who can quickly address problems and improve the experience for your customers. Instead of offering free ‘fast passes’ to popular rides, it might be offering access to another feature or discount, or an earlier appointment.
Our Patient Hub has in-person routing and queues where an outpatient appointment can be enhanced with walk in queuing or hospital routing to navigate NHS sites. Patients can book appointments on their mobile device, get to the right clinic, and check in on time. It’s less of a rollercoaster for patients, more of a merry-go-round. And in the booking centre, agents can see all the data and is ready to re-book appointments.
Whichever approach is right for your organisation, when you connect your legacy systems (we can show you how with low-code and RPA) and integrate your CRM and other enterprise tools into your customer engagement centre, you equip your agents to handle more queries. And you provide them with the confidence and abilities to help your customers. Allow managers to have proper visibility of the calls and results, and give them the insights to make changes and re-organise processes. Seeing the real customer journey will give you the vision to fix customer experience.
Empowering agents in their roles has a naturally positive impact on agent turnover. Watch as that impacts financially, with reduced recruitment and onboarding costs, plus drives high levels of productivity and customer satisfaction as a happy consequence.
You need to work on the ‘soft’ development, of course, which is actually quite hard. Providing dynamic, customised training or coaching helps agents to perform at optimum levels. And creating a positive environment and culture ensures that they actually want to give optimum performance. Ensure they are working in a clean, comfortable and well-lit environment (remotely or in the office). Recognise and reward outstanding service – it shows agents they are respected and valued.
It’s up to you, as an organisation, to inspire your agents to delight your customers.
Engaging your agents
A lot of work goes into engaging your people and utilising your data. When you wrap them in the right technology, your agents can develop CX superpowers. Talk to us about Liberty Converse and the wider Liberty Platform solutions and how they create that environment and ability to engage your people to liberate your CX ambitions.
Here’s how you can empower super agents in your organisation to be the CX difference