Friday May 16, 2014

The Art of Easy - Part 6 of 6: Making Easy, both Effective and Efficient by Melinda Uhland

In the case of “What makes the experience” It's the age old question… which came first? The chicken? or the egg? There is a strong vote for the chicken (being the customer), as they squawk the loudest (especially on Social), but within the contact center, there is strong evidence that it was the egg (being the agent).

A Modern Customer Service organization is one that understands the importance of the Agent Experience as it relates to your customer’s experience. A modern organization knows that its support agents must be more than a pretty smile on an empty box, or a handshake at an open door, or a hallmark welcome greeting… Modern Customer Service agents curate engagements that result in lasting and profitable relationships with their customers.

The customers experience is frequently defined by how engaged the customer feels an agent is during an interaction – not just whether they were polite, but also whether they were trying to help. And there is a direct correlation between how engaged agents are, and how empowered they feel they in their jobs. A Modern Customer Service organization is one that improves its customer results by investing in the needs of its agents’ experiences. Empowering them with the tools that make it easy for them to be efficient and effective.

To know how well you are doing on delivering a great agent experience, don't just look at CSAT reports (although they can be a good indicator).

Start by asking your agents:

Are you being connected with customers that you can serve effectively?
How effective is that connection so the customer isn’t frustrated by the time they engage?
Once engaged do they have access to the information needed to solve the issue?
How many systems do they have to log into, search and reconcile conflicting information?
How many process scripts, cheat sheets and memos do they have to manage and memorize to navigate the engagement?
If they see an issue with your system/process during the interaction, can they apply/request a change?
How long does it usually take to have the change applied?
And, how many engagements will they have to handle without that change?
The list goes on, as does the time and frustration to your agents, if you are not making the engagement process easy. Let face it, you cannot afford to lose any of your agents, as you have invested in them and your business needs to deliver. So, if you are still running your contact center as a legacy cost center, then chances are you are driving up costs by not understanding your agents’ needs:

  • Your most seasoned agents: are your most valuable assets as they are the sherpas of your processes, saviors of your customers and the spirit of your brand.  They must be empowered for greatness. Honor their time to save your brand.
  • Your average agents: are your building blocks for change, whose systematic rhythm can deliver the highest return on efficiencies. They must be empowered for consistency. Listen to their pains to save money.
  • Your most junior agents: are your future, with an untarnished view on how you can improve to get ahead. They must be empowered for success. Leverage their passion and their fresh perspective for change.

By exploring the needs of each agent segment, you can understand how to apply technology to improve their experience:

The Experienced Agent: “Don’t waste my time!”

Your most experienced agents should be strictly focused on your most serious/complicated issues, and/or your highest value customers.  Having your most valuable agents handle questions that could be addressed through an FAQ, or a newer agent wastes money and time. By setting up the correct routing rules, you can ensure that your experienced agents are focused on the right issues and most valuable customers –handling only exceptions for overflow assistance when required.  With the right solution, it is possible to automate the configuration and management of routing rules which match the right customers with the right agents, based on many factors beyond customer problem and agent skill. Configure rules based on availability, learned experience, language, time zone, county, wait times, customer value, etc.

The Average Agent:  “It’s not my fault!”

How many times have your agents picked up a call, provided their most friendly greeting, only to have been immediately yelled at by a customer? Your agent has to spend time calming the customer down, rather than assisting them with the real issue. Call Center agents go through this many times a day, and it can be a demotivating and costly occurrence to your efficiency and effectiveness metrics.  Do these sound all too familiar?

  • I have been transferred 3 times, and you keep asking the same questions!”
  • “I don’t have time to call you! Why can’t I just do this online?"
  • “I just spent an hour trying to navigate your web site, only to get no answer, and now you want to CHAT?!
  • “Do you know who I am on Social? You will regret keeping me waiting for my email response!”
  • “I have been a great customer of yours for many years – doesn't that count for something?!”

Multi-Channel / Cross-Channel Customer Service platforms can help you avoid this circle of frustration. Capabilities like proactive chat, email automation, virtual assistance, click-to-call, click-to-call back, experience routing rules, mobile templates, and social response allow your customers reach out to you on the channel/device that works best for them right when they need help. Or they can switch channels and devices when they need too, seamlessly.  And when your customers do reach out to you, you can keep track of all their interactions, regardless of channel, providing you with deeper insights on channel, device and interaction behavior for optimizing their contact flows to avoid FCF (First Contact Frustration), and improve FCR (First Contact Resolution).

The New Agent:  “There’s gotta be a better way!”

Your new agent just started and is excited to do well in his/her new role.  S/he had some hands-on training with an experienced agent, got a memorized script to follow, a notebook with system logins to use, an earmarked manual with policies to follow, and is set to start handling low-level support incidents in those already flooded channels.  As you finish the agent’s training, the song “Will they stay, or will they go?” plays in your head because you know the experience the agent is about to go through will either make or break ‘em. But, you did all you could, so if something goes wrong: the customers? A necessary casualty. The complaints? Teething pains. The ideas for change? A no go. Given time, they will learn the old ways are best!

This is another scenario that can be easily remedied with a Modern Contact Center, which is capable of unifying all the systems to a single login to a centralized agent desktop. The desktop can be pre-configured with views and guides that simplify the learning curve and walk agents through step-by-step processes, which are traceable down to each interaction and engagement across every channel.

A centralized knowledge base gives agents access to all public and internal knowledge at their fingertips, placing scripts inside of tools that can be applied easily. These tools, combined with a unified customer record drawn from any source master system of record (or external social site), equip your new agent to have relevant engagements, which help them improve customer experience from day one.

By understanding the needs of your agents—and empowering them with the right tools, knowledge and insights to better serve customers—you can easily make their jobs more engaging, their performance more effective, and their time more efficient. The Oracle Service Cloud empowers agents to meet today’s customer expectations and become a valued part of the Modern Customer Service Organization.


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