As the main point of contact for brands, contact centres and their agents are pivotal to providing customers with the experience they expect and for making a mark on brand reputation that can impact long-term success.
The stakes are certainly high and the path to good customer experience (CX) doesn’t always run smoothly. Rising competition, increasing CX expectations, tightening regulatory environments and challenging financial conditions require agents to step up to the plate on more than one front and deliver an empathetic, human customer service that builds long-lasting relationships.
In addition, agents are under increasing workload pressure due to high attrition rates whilst often trying to juggle remote work alongside multiple systems and sources of information. Increased levels of automation, whilst taking the burden of more mundane tasks, can also mean agents are left with the more complex customer enquires that require deeper skills – another string they must add to their bow.
Considering McKinsey’s research found that “80 percent of the value creation achieved by the world’s most successful growth companies comes from their core business—principally, unlocking new revenues from existing customers” it’s worth getting the customer journey right.
Powering up Super Agents
Against this backdrop, brands should look to empower employees to become Super Agents. These are agents who are an integration of people and technology; agents who can focus on delivering an exceptional customer journey through the skills they have learned, whilst also getting a helping hand in decision-making from automation, AI and data and with the ability to connect and get human help, e.g. from supervisors, when needed. Super Agents have the ability to deliver a personal touch with speed and accuracy. And, more so than most, they are the agents who have a direct impact on CX, brand reputation and image, customer loyalty and, ultimately, the bottom line.
Super Agents are enabled to be the most effective and empathetic they can be towards customers – wherever they’re working from. Indeed, with a continued preference for remote or hybrid working, having the tools and support to be able to deliver a super-powered CX from anywhere is key.
What are the first steps to ensure your Super Agents are engaged and empowered rather than hindered by your processes and tools? Some places to start include:
- Simplified technology – There are a lot of different systems that agents have to contend with, which can often lead to a cumbersome and ineffective setup that slows down the customer journey. Instead, look to provide single desktops, with integrated Knowledge Management and Agent Assist technologies that can surface consistent, up-to-date, and vital information to agents in real time – helping them to provide a streamlined and informed CX.
- Automation & AI – Customer queries are growing ever more complex, so hand over repetitive tasks to automated tools such as RPA, self service tools, and caller ID&V so that agents can focus on getting to the bottom of more complicated customer issues. In addition, automated sentiment analysis can provide agents with insights into how customers are feeling, enabling them to deliver a more empathetic customer experience to those who need it most, such as vulnerable customers.
- Learning & Development – From new technologies and customer touchpoints, to having the skills to handle vulnerable customer interactions, there are always new opportunities for agents to learn something new. Ensure the likes of feedback, coaching and training opportunities for growth are readily available and encouraged to ensure your agents are the best at what they do. In a world where there’s a mass move to the cloud, and a drive to introduce new advanced technology, prioritising regular training around new skills or technologies is a sure-fire way to ensure agents are up to speed. At IPI we make Training and Enablement part of each new client project, and it also forms an integral part of our Customer Success programme.
- Workforce Management – Working from home offers huge amounts of flexibility for agents, so give them the power to control their schedule while also ensuring you have the right staffing levels at all times with resource planning tools.
- Gamification and Performance Management – High attrition rates are no secret in the contact centre industry, but by introducing gamification techniques to everyday jobs, you can increase agent motivation and keep them engaged and productive. When combined with Performance Management tools, managers can gain a clear picture of top performers, even with a hybrid workforce.
Super Agents to the rescue
The benefits of empowering employees to be Super Agents are huge. To start with, agents will have the skills, time, and energy to provide an empathetic service to meet changing customer expectations and their growing number of complex questions. For instance, by using automated tools or having access to a simplified system, agents can not only provide a more streamlined, accurate and efficient customer journey but will also have the capacity to give it a human, personalised touch.
In addition, by integrating processes and tools with agent activity to create agent empowerment, contact centres can significantly lower absenteeism and attrition rates, as well as boost productivity and reduce AHT. Retain, attract and develop talent further by providing coaching and development opportunities, and take advantage of Workforce Management, gamification and Performance Management practices to put the power in agents’ hands so they have what they need to deliver a stellar customer experience that meets customer expectations.
Customer demands will always shift and develop. The contact centres that have successfully introduced a Super Agent strategy will be better equipped to meet the changing needs of customers now and in the future – resulting in improved CX, happier employees and an enhanced bottom line.
Craig Farley – Head of Consulting, IPI
Craig has over 20 years experience in Contact Centres, spending the first half of his career in operational roles, with a focus on resource planning and performance.
Since then, Craig has consulted to deliver Workforce Engagement best practices and technology deployments to major brands across the globe and is responsible for the delivery of WFM, QM, Gamification and Interaction Analytics to our IPI clients.