In today’s world of ever-increasing customer expectations, successful customer service agents need more than just a friendly voice and up-to-date product knowledge. They need to have a suite of tools and solutions to support their ability to provide seamless, contextual, personalized service. They also need excellent training. The businesses that provide their service teams with this level of support are discovering that the higher level of customer experience they can now provide is leading directly to more customers, greater loyalty and measurable increases in revenue.
Many common customer service complaints are a direct result of routing-related issues. Traditional queue-based routing is inherently restrictive and can cause imbalances in agent workloads, as well as extended hold times, repeated transfers and other service-hindering problems. If a customer experiences difficulties in simply connecting with an agent, the likelihood that there will be a problem during the call is much higher. In other words, outdated routing can actually set agents up for failure.
With increasing digital, self-service channels, customers are more likely to be dialing into a contact center when they need to escalate an issue. If they experience hurdles to obtain assisted-service because of outdated routing, agents can’t successfully do their job and the chance of customer churn is significantly greater. Intelligent routing can significantly improve agent performance by balancing workloads and providing a seamless way for customers to shift from self-service to assisted-service.
Unified Agent Desktop
Agents also need to be empowered with a desktop that enhances their productivity and eases their workload. Today’s contact centers utilize multiple applications and systems. However, if they’re not integrated, agents are forced to continuously switch screens and sign in and out of applications. This not only slows down the ability to help customers, it also creates an increased risk of mistakes and oversights.
The solution to this very common problem is a unified agent desktop which connects disparate applications and combines them into one comprehensive view. With a unified agent desktop, both frontline and back-office team members can gain a 360-degree view of the customer that includes prior interactions, activities and account information. This solution which simplifies handling interactions not only saves agents time on each call, it also reduces training time and provides greater overall service consistency.
Improved Workforce Management
Employee turnover is notoriously high in most contact centers for a variety of reasons. The stress of having to deal with unhappy customers or unexpectedly high call volumes can place tremendous stress on agents which can lead to burnout and job dissatisfaction. One of the most important ways to support successful agents is through workforce management. Efficient management of schedules, timelines and workflow can not only help keep agents happy on the job, it can also help to sustain higher service levels. A workforce management solution can be integrated into a contact center platform to manage resources and to make intelligent, data-driven staffing decisions. Some of the features to look for include identifying call volume trends to predict future spikes that would require additional agents and being able to schedule agents based on their skillset, completed training and individual preferences.
Safeguards to Prevent Extended Hold Times
Every contact center experiences unexpected high call volumes. Whether it’s because of a limited-time promotion or because of a glitch in a digital self-service channel, it’s important to have safeguards in place to minimize hold times for customers and to prevent agents from having to speak with customers who have waited on hold for too long. One smart solution which can help relieve customer frustration during peak times is VHT Callback. By giving customers the opportunity to request a call back at a time they choose, a business can minimize the impact of unexpected peaks that jeopardize customer relationships.
More Investment in Development and Training
The average contact center agent receives 15 days of initial training. If your training is less than this or if you’re finding that many agents require retraining, it may be worthwhile to evaluate training curriculum. Part of this training should include educating them on tools they have to find answers to questions and explaining their role in building customer relationships. Every agent should also receive some individual training. It’s also important to consider training an ongoing task. According to the The Global Call Center Report, contact center agents receive an average of six training days each year. You will want to make sure there are ongoing refresher courses, as well as training on new products, software and marketing efforts to support their continued success and to enable them to effectively meet their customers’ needs.
The benefits of providing your contact center agents with what they need to succeed are immense, ranging from improved customer experience to reduced employee turnover. To make this happen, it requires a multi-pronged approach that includes evaluating technology and training. With the right tools and solutions in place, employees can be well positioned to maximize your service success. As many customer service experts say, “Happy employees make happy customers.”