Published: July 23, 2018 | Comments
If you had to list your top frustration in calling contact centers, what comes to mind? For me, it's a tie between hearing that something "probably" or "should" happen and getting different answers to the same question from different people. The former leads me to doubt the information I'm being given, and it prompts the return call where invariably I get a different answer. When I call customer service, I expect accurate and complete information on the first interaction - and if I call back for any reason, I assume that the answer will be the same from the next person with whom I speak. It's not too much to ask, is it?
That consistent customer experience CAN happen IF you provide the right tools and resources for your staff: Documentation, Training, Feedback, and Communication.
As a cornerstone of our ISO environment, controlled and centralized documentation such as tools and work instructions means that everyone is working from the same information at the same time. And because our documents are standardized and laid out in the same fashion, our agents can efficiently navigate the documentation to find answers quickly.
Our staff owns the documentation and is empowered to suggest improvements to existing documents as well as to create new records as needed. When a new document is introduced, or a change to an existing record is requested, it goes through three sets of eyes to ensure accuracy before it's published live for everyone to see. We want to make sure that the change makes sense. Once the newest version is approved, the old one goes away. Everyone is always working from the latest and greatest version. No one is working from an old sheet of paper or post-it that lists notes they jotted down a year ago…or from memory!
We use our documentation to build our training curriculum. That way, as processes change or documents are updated, the training follows suit, which ensures that our new agents learn from precisely the same materials that are being accessed on the floor to provide information to callers.
As humans, we are hungry to know how well we are doing. If we're doing a good job, we want that acknowledged. If we are missing the mark, we want to know what we should do differently next time. If we want a consistent customer experience, we need to make sure that we are catching people doing well and reinforcing those good behaviors in addition to finding out what knowledge gaps someone might have and quickly addressing them through targeted coaching.
This can only happen when call review feedback is shared promptly. What good is a call review if it covers a call from weeks ago? Call reviews ideally should be on calls taken that day, and the feedback should be delivered to the agent immediately. Conducting reviews this way allows for an overall better experience for the agent, and if there are corrections to make, it ensures that no other customers will be negatively affected. And the reviews should include a large enough sample set to get an accurate picture of the agent's performance. Too few reviews and you don't know what you are missing. We review 11 calls per agent per month, which puts us in the top 14% according to CallCentreHelper.Com's April 2018 article, "What Are The Industry Standards for Call Centre Metrics?"
We've taught the agent the material. We've documented the correct information. We've provided timely and relevant feedback. Now we need to consistently remind staff of timely topics and tips to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Our customer experience group sends out communication to our team several times a week with tips on how to provide an exceptional and consistent customer experience on the types of calls that we are getting. These tips are one way to do just-in-time coaching, providing reminders about how to handle calls about tax forms during tax time, for example, and reminders about dividend and capital gain distributions in the last quarter of the year. We aim to keep knowledge fresh so that our agents are confident and provide a consistent customer experience. Also, if there's a change to a process resulting in updated documentation, an alert is sent out to staff to make sure they are aware of what the change is, why it happened and what that means for them going forward.
By giving your agents solid training built on standardized documentation, giving timely feedback and sending out consistent communication, you will set them up for success. The result? A consistent customer experience, which is what we all strive to achieve.