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If all you have are two cans and a string, how can you deliver a great customer experience?

It’s all about the tools you have on hand to do the job well.

It’s the same with contact center agents. If they are given complicated screens with incomplete information and complex, outdated technology, how can they be expected to provide an excellent customer experience?

Contact center agents are often the “face” of your organization- whether they are selling, or supporting customers, they have a huge impact on the customer experience. However, there is a huge gap between what agents need to do their jobs well, and the tools they usually have available to them. A recent ICMI survey (sponsored by Five9) of 400+ contact centers found that 92 percent of respondents felt their agent facing applications could be more effective, while 74 percent acknowledged these tools prevent the agents from providing the best customer experience possible.

Why is this happening? What customers don't realize is that behind the scenes, is what I call the ugly little secret of the contact center business. Agents are often stuck with legacy contact center technology. This technology is overly complicated due to being cobbled together over time with silo’d applications bolted on to support digital channels such as email and chat, plus the core voice applications such as routing, agent desktops, outbound dialing and IVR.

This Frankenstein system results in a stressful, challenging situation for the agent who has to flip through multiple, complicated screens and applications to take care of their customer, five applications on average (according to the ICMI survey), to take care of one customer interaction. How many of us as consumers have waited impatiently on the other end of the line while the agent desperately tries to find the needed information?

We’re essentially asking agents to service today’s connected customers with the technology equivalent of two cans and a string- so how can we expect a great customer experience?

With the addition of social media and other channels, and the consumer need for instant communication, the frustrations can only grow. We also know that agent satisfaction directly impacts the customer experience, and yet few companies are investing in their agents, as they should.

I believe the agent experience should be just as important as the customer experience!

It’s extremely puzzling to me that more organizations aren’t focusing on improving the experience of their agents, as it’s fairly obvious (and the ICMI survey supports this) that making improvements at the agent level can yield huge gains in customer satisfaction and agent retention, which ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line. Organizations could do well for themselves by doing better for their agents; it’s a win-win situation.

What does it take to provide a better agent experience? It’s a pretty simple formula:

  1. Offer tools and technologies that allow the agent to be as efficient and effective as possible
  2. Identify the most successful agents and find out why and how they’re successful; use recruiting, training and coaching on an ongoing basis to replicate throughout the contact center
  3. Hold agents accountable for things that they can actually affect

So why aren’t organizations taking better care of their agents? What will it take to change? I think for many companies it will take real pain to the bottom line, such as losing customers to competition, for companies to start acting.

At Five9 we have embraced the fact that the agent experience is just as important as the customer journey. Recognizing this, we announced the Freedom Release of our all in one virtual contact center (VCC) solution for inbound, outbound and blended contact centers. This release includes a new, intuitive Five9 user interface called Agent Desktop Plus, and new contact center CRM Adapters for Oracle and Salesforce.

Why have we named it Freedom? Because it gives agents freedom from complexity and frustrations. Because it gives agents freedom to do their jobs well and provide an excellent customer experience.

I invite you to please contact us for more information. Do your agents have the right tools to deliver the best experience?