Published: May 30, 2014 | Comments
Confucius says, “The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” The same could be said for contact center agents. While the overall goals of a contact center agent are the same – to provide outstanding customer service, increase customer lifetime value and create brand advocates for life – they must have the right tools to do their jobs the right way in order to provide the best customer experience.
Let’s look at an example of a contact center agent who works from home, responding to customer inquiries for a financial services company. An average day could consist of answering 30 phone calls; following up on 10 of those calls with an email to provide additional information; responding to five tweets to close the loop on inquiries sent before the customer called; and posting 12 personalized “thank you for contacting us” messages on Facebook. Whew! What used to be a job of “just” answering the phone has morphed into multichannel customer service…and it can be a challenge to do it right.
The average contact center agent typically uses software that allows them to access and enter information about a customer, including their contact information and history with the brand. But we’re still finding that many brands have not extended their contact center functions to accommodate social and mobile customer interactions. It seems surprising, given that so many customers use these channels to share their positive and negative experiences. This might be due, in part, to the fact that brands need to be ready for social. Once they engage with one customer, they’ve set the precedent—and many brands don’t have the resources to commit to social customer service. Yet…because soon they won’t have a choice.
So how does a brand go about preparing their contact center to address multichannel customer inquiries? It starts with empowering those on the front lines – their agents. Here are three ways brands can create the right customer experience by providing their agents with the right tools.
Keep the Software Simple
If a brand’s contact center agents monitor and interact with customers on different channels, they may currently find themselves frustratingly toggling between these channels on their desktop browser – minimizing one screen to view another while switching back and trying to coordinate an interaction on both with no easy way to make it work. They may be using one browser but not everything is available in one tab.
There is an easier way. One of the right tools to help improve customer service is a single, integrated, multichannel agent desktop. When agents can quickly and easily access message and phone panels in one tab, they can respond to customers quickly and effectively. Being able to view customer information, as well as the history of interactions across channels and respond on any of those channels can be effortless. The ability to pivot a customer interaction from one communication channel to another (from a public tweet to a phone call to a private message follow up), all from the same screen, means a 360-degree view and response across channels is not only possible but simple.
LiveOps research has shown that 89 percent of consumers believe it is important to be able to communicate with brands on any channel and receive the same quality and efficiency of response. Sixty-one percent of social media users feel brands don’t effectively communicate on social channels. A brand that can meet those customer demands and provide a highly personal, highly responsive interaction is golden. That’s what customers are looking for, and that’s why they reward brands by continuing to do business with them instead of the competition.
Okay, that part of the job is easier now, but what about training? How can brands keep their contact center agents’ skills fresh without boring them? What about motivation? How can agents stay excited about their job so customers are interacting with happy representatives?
Gamification for the Win
We’ve all played games and become a little too attached (Angry Birds? Candy Crush Saga? Words with Friends?). Attached might even be an understatement. The point is, when we play games and are rewarded with unlocking a new level, earning points or achieving the top score, we’re motivated to continue. Why not transfer that form of motivation to training and retention in the contact center? Gamification can improve motivation, increase engagement and productivity and lead to happier agents.
Gamification guides, reinforces and increases high-value agent activity by providing goals, real-time feedback and rewards that agents want to achieve. Brands can offer training classes or certification renewals or host competitions to see, for example, who can close the most inquiries with high customer ratings in a set time period. High scorers can become leaders or advisors to those who want to improve, offering tips and tricks others can integrate into their work style.
Gartner research has shown that by the end of 2014, 70 percent of the largest 2,000 global companies will use gamification. It’s no wonder. Gamification offers friendly competition, visibility and peer recognition for participants and can result in cost savings, lower turnover and improved customer service metrics for brands. Plus, those happier contact center agents provide better service, resulting in happier customers.
What other tools can agents be given to help them help customers?
CRM Integration, Co-Browsing, Scripting…Oh My!
There seems to be no end to the tools brands can implement to help with excellent customer service. Another powerful tools is CRM integration with customer service operations. CRM integration can improve the customer experience with integrated screen pop, which provides insight into each customer, such as a customer profile, case details and interaction history. Contact center agents are able to offer personalized service when they can access more information in one place. This, in turn, increases agent productivity by reducing the average handle time and improves first call resolution with CRM data routing.
There’s also co-browsing, which allows a contact center agent to connect to a customer’s browser and show them around a brand’s website or even help them fill out and submit a form. Talk about a time saver and frustration reducer. Scripting comes in handy when you want to quickly develop and optimize scripts for agents to improve inbound and outbound operations. Brands can also use contextual routing, integrated dialer functionality, results-based routing…the list of “right” tools goes on and on.
All contact center agents require the right “sharpened” tools to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. From tools that allow an agent to step up their “game” to a single screen for simplifying customer engagement – customer service excellence results from great tools and training.