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2013 ICMI RESEARCH RELEASED: The Multichannel Agent: A 2014 Contact Center Roadmap, Research Report and Best Practices Guide

The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) reveals that a commitment to agent engagement and training, investment in new technologies and the wise use of metrics are key to improving the multichannel experience.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — December 19, 2013 — The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) has released its latest research report, The Multichannel Agent: A 2014 Contact Center Roadmap, Research Report and Best Practices Guide, which evaluates the role of contact center agents in a multichannel environment.

ICMI turned its attention to agents after analyzing data from Extreme Engagement in the Multichannel Contact Center: Leveraging the Emerging Channels Research Report and Best Practices Guide, published in July 2013. Those findings revealed that – irrespective of channel – a happy, well-trained agent was at the core of customer satisfaction.

In response, ICMI conducted a new survey: “The Agent’s Experience in the Multichannel World.” Results were collected and analyzed from 525 respondents, including senior executives, directors and managers. Analysts, contact supervisors and agents also took part. Participation in the study came from a wide variety of industries throughout the U.S. and the world.

The survey was designed to get at the root of agent challenges:

  • How are contact centers currently leveraging their agents?
  • How can agents and their supervisors adapt to meet the demands of a multi-connected customer?
  • What kinds of decisions are executives making about multichannel technologies and analytics?
  • Where should businesses direct their resources in 2014?

“Allowing customers to use their channel of choice is now considered the minimal acceptable level of service in contact centers,” says Sarah Stealey Reed, Content Director for ICMI. “But it can be tricky for companies to know how to prepare their agents for multichannel interactions. This report lays out the groundwork for creating a faster, happier, technologically smoother experience for all involved.”

Key findings from the report note:

  • Over 66% of companies see linkages between operational efficiency, agent engagement (AE) and agent satisfaction (ASAT)
  • 64% of respondents said multichannel necessitates that agents learn new technology or new processes
  • Although multichannel agents do not demand higher wages, 46% of respondents recognize they have more extensive training needs
  • 85% of contact centers believe that happy agents make happy customers

As part of ICMI’s commitment to actionable research, The Multichannel Agent: A 2014 Contact Center Roadmap, Research Report and Best Practices Guide also provides step-by-step guides to hiring and training multichannel agents, including a employer’s roadmap from Brad Cleveland, Senior Advisor and Former CEO of ICMI, and an agent training plan from Justin Robbins, ICMI’s Manager of Training & Development.

In addition, the report includes tips on best practices for improving day-to-day processes and technology. Businesses are advised on more effective ways to:

  • Measure agent engagement and satisfaction
  • Understand the driving forces behind productivity and efficiency decreases
  • Eliminate channel and department silos, work duplication and inconsistent customer care
  • Turn data into actionable data through the use of desktop analytics 
  • Involve agents in the development and implementation of new tools 
  • Implement a universal CRM platform
  • Adapt to mobile and social media
  • Experiment with non-voice channels and a cloud infrastructure

“The experience of the agent lies at the heart of every successful multichannel strategy,” notes Reed. “No matter what the path, contact with a live agent is where the most complex and most valuable customer interactions take place. It’s imperative we prepare these employees to handle the new multichannel reality.”

A complete review of the study’s final results can be found within the research report, The Multichannel Agent: A 2014 Contact Center Roadmap, Research Report and Best Practices Guide.

In addition, ICMI offers a free whitepaper, Overcoming Productivity & Efficiency Challenges in the Multichannel Contact Center, featuring a portion of the study results and presents commentary and related research findings through a recorded webinar and educast.

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