Published: November 25, 2014 | Comments
As companies have become more efficient and automated, customer interactions have become less personalized. But in today’s “age of the customer,” companies are now looking to differentiate themselves by providing an outstanding, more personal customer experience every time.
From the standpoint of the consumer, crowdsourcing feedback through social media has had a profound influence on business, putting new pressures on companies to perform. Today’s buyers are more empowered than ever before. They don’t just expect an outstanding, individualized experience with every interaction – they demand it.
Imagine a world where your frontline workforce is always prepared, always productive and never caught off guard. Predictive analytics and contact center technology are moving in that direction. But with all of these increasing consumer demands, can today’s customer service operations keep up? How can automation help overcome some of the operational boundaries to providing outstanding customer service?
Getting it Right the First Time
According to a recent survey by Forrester Research, Inc., 52 percent of customers will abandon online purchases if they can’t find a quick answer – and 71 percent said that “valuing their time” is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service.*
The message is clear: customers want their issues handled quickly and accurately. If they can’t find the answers they need, they will move to other channels to get the information.
Whichever channel they use – whether phone, chat or e-mail – customers expect a knowledgeable agent who can get it right on the first try. The onus is on providers to seamlessly manage the transition between channels to better facilitate the customer journey. When customers move between channels, they expect agents to understand their issue, be skilled enough to handle the interaction, and to provide personalized service every time.
Avoid Roadblocks to Great Customer Service
Today’s agents receive escalations from other channels. Though interactions have increased in complexity, agents must still be able to effectively solve customer issues. How can companies improve the customer experience as interactions increase in difficulty while time for training and coaching remains a limited resource?
Contact centers have enormous datasets to pull from, but too often the data is siloed and can’t be utilized to regain these precious resources. Customer service leaders can see the nature of the problem via the data, but they are forced to react because they cannot use the data in real time to protect the customer experience.
That same Forrester report found that though 92 percent of companies recognize customer experience as a top priority, only 60 percent are currently using it as a competitive differentiator. So, what are some of the biggest challenges to providing a great customer experience, and how can contact centers automate the use of their data in a way that prompts a better experience?
Monitor idle time
To best serve customers, agents need the right information. This requires ongoing training and coaching, but time is in short supply.
Though contact center leaders acknowledge the importance of the customer experience, most centers remain efficiency-driven. Time for training is created by overstaffing and often interrupted by constant scheduling and rescheduling.
Intraday automation tools can leverage these datapoints by monitoring for periods of low call volume and immediately responding to deliver training that agents can complete in short sessions during time between calls. Monitoring and harvesting idle time — in a real-time fashion — frees up these time resources so that incremental training can be completed at the agent’s desktop. When call volume unexpectedly spikes, agents are prompted to return to answering calls.
This same level of automation allows frontline workforce adjustments to be made on-demand and continuously throughout the day to give agents time to complete critical off-phone work, ultimately making them more productive and better at their jobs.
Establish KPI thresholds
Once you find the time for training, what do you do with it?
In the fast-paced contact center environment, many centers struggle to develop and execute personalized agent development plans. What contact centers must do is monitor training completion rates and key performance indicators in real-time and automatically assign training to agents when performance drops below a certain threshold.
Likewise, skill levels must be updated on the fly so that underperforming agents are no longer handling inquiries of a specific nature until they have completed the assigned training and have increased their competency.
When agents improve their performance and acquire new skills, queues can be automatically updated so that they are immediately returned to handing calls.
Automate staffing decisions
It happens all of the time: Marketing launches a campaign without notifying the contact center and agents are caught off guard, or unforeseen events or conditions impact the operational readiness of the center. Call volume and wait times unexpectedly increase, and customer service suffers as a result.
One of best ways to protect the customer experience is ensuring that customers always have an agent ready to handle their inquiry in whatever channel of communication they prefer. And in the multi-channel environment – with disparate technologies – it is even more difficult to quickly respond to demand when volume shifts unexpectedly.
Many contact centers today are reactionary. Call volume and staffing are monitored and managed manually. But by automating this process, staffing adjustments can be automatically triggered in real time. This automation relies heavily on data thresholds that businesses decide are most critical.
For example, Net Staffing data can be monitored and when it reaches a certain level, actions can be automatically triggered such as an e-mail offering overtime or voluntary time off, asking agents to take breaks later, or requesting remote agents to log-in and start taking calls. As volume spikes, agents can also be pulled from other channels and locations automatically and trained to seamlessly float across channels.
Leverage intraday metrics
When a customer’s issue is not resolved during the initial interaction, or a new hire is struggling with a call, the overall experience suffers. Seventy percent of contact centers cite First Call Resolution as a major roadblock to outstanding customer service in their centers. Additionally, many centers review Average Handle Time data after the fact, all while precious time is wasted.
With intraday automation, centers can identify and respond to FCR issues in real time, alerting supervisors to address service issues as they are happening. And, when handle time increases beyond allowable limits, supervisors can be automatically notified to intervene and provide immediate help.
By automating these intraday metrics, performance gaps can be quickly identified and individualized activities can be made assigned and completed during idle time.
Always Prepared, Always Productive
In the past 100 years, other aspects of business – from manufacturing to transportation – have successfully leveraged automation to drive operational efficiencies, yet the frontline workforce, primarily the customer contact center, has lagged behind.
Today’s contact centers have an advantage. Real-time software, predictive analytics and intraday automation technology are changing the customer experience game.
Modern contact centers are embracing these tools to overcome barriers and provide an amazing customer experience with every interaction. For the first time, a frontline workforce that is always prepared, productive, and never caught off guard is within reach.
*These statistics were presented during our recent webinar, “Back to the Future: Customer Experience Then, Now and Beyond,” featuring guest speaker, Art Schoeller vp and principal analyst of Forrester Research, Inc.
Intradiem is the leader in intraday automation solutions for multi-channel contact centres. Intradiem’s customers achieve an invincible customer experience with a real-time workforce by automating manual processes such as intraday task management, intraday staffing, reskilling, channel balancing, and real-time alerts. Intradiem empowers an immediate and consistent response to unpredictable events and changing conditions, resulting in labour savings, improved employee performance and a better overall customer experience. More than 200,000 contact centre, field service, retail, bank branch, and back office employees around the world use Intradiem’s solution every day.
For more information, call 888-566-9457 or visit www.intradiem.com.