In today’s business environment, in which customer expectations are at an all-time high, companies have become obsessed with improving the customer experience—and for good reason. Research has shown that consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that delivers superior service. Sure, customer service is imperative and has become a competitive differentiator, but are companies becoming so fixated on their customers that they’re forgetting about their most important asset—their employees?
Your contact center agents are frontline providers of customer service; they’re often the first and sometimes the last person with whom a customer interacts. Every time an agent fails to solve a customer’s problem, it hurts your company, its image and its bottom line. In fact, more than half of U.S. consumers (51 percent) switched the companies they do business with in the past year due to poor experiences, up 5 percent from the prior year, according to Accenture’s 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Survey.
The quality of customer service depends heavily on agents’ performance, efficiency and accuracy. Yet, businesses are still providing representatives with outdated customer service technologies that do not enable them to deliver service in line with expectations. For example, 55 percent of businesses surveyed by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Salesforce said their agents still use multiple applications to find the customer information they need, while 35 percent claim that agents don’t have the relevant customer or order histories to personalize interactions.
It’s time that businesses stop putting the needs of their agents on the back burner and start prioritizing the agent experience. Below are various tools and technologies that can help simplify the agent workspace and increase agent productivity:
- CRM integration: It’s no secret that customers become iratewhen they’re put on hold for a long period of time while an agent searches for their information. For agents, it’s no walk in the park either, as they have to feverishly rummage through various applications and then deal with a frustrated customer. With customer relationship management (CRM) integration, this issue is averted because agents have access to all the customer’s information—such as name, phone number, location and account number—right from the start of the call. Agents no longer have to switch screens or log into multiple applications to gather key information, which reduces call handle time and increases agent productivity.
- Real-time coaching: Whether an agent is a newbie or a seasoned expert, he or she will—sooner or later—have an encounter with an angry caller that he or she isn’t prepared to handle. With real-time coaching capabilities, supervisors can quickly intervene when such a situation arises and converse with the agent on what steps to take without the caller being aware that the supervisor is on the call. Not only does this reduce errors and improve call resolution, but it also helps agents feel supported.
- Cloud computing: To better perform, your agents need the latest applications, such as business intelligence, CRM, security encryption and social collaboration. For companies using legacy technology, giving agents access to these types of applications is difficult and expensive. Conversely, with a cloud-based infrastructure, companies can easily integrate with other enterprise applications and empower agents with the tools needed to serve customers in a timely and personalized manner. According to research from the Aberdeen Group, cloud-based contact centers have a 51 percent first contact resolution rate and generate 13.1 percent year-over-year improvement in annual company revenue.
- Personalized training: No two agents are the same; some are more experienced than others, for one thing. For another, one agent might take longer than his or her colleagues to accomplish certain tasks, while a third agent may have trouble dealing with an angry caller. Every agent, therefore, should be given training based on his or her particular strengths and weaknesses. With workforce optimization, supervisors can capture workflow activity and analyze agents’ performance. Then, based on the data, they can create personalized training tips which can be immediately sent to the agent’s desktop to be reviewed between calls.
Your agents are your biggest asset and they want to perform to the best of their ability. Provide them with more intuitive solutions, so that they can focus on solving customers’ issues and delivering differentiated service. Not only will they benefit, but your bottom line will too! To learn more about how to improve agent performance and the customer experience, click here to download our brochure, “Four Ways to Help Your Contact Center Dramatically Improve Customer Experiences.”