Customer experience (CX) has long been on the minds of every type of organization, especially those that operate contact centers, but now has taken on new meaning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, agent experience (AX) now deserves more attention than ever.
Contact center agents are on the front line every day, dealing with an influx of calls and interactions from scared, anxious, and frustrated customers who need answers and information in order to make critical decisions. But with work from home (WFH) becoming the norm, most contact center agents themselves are dealing with new and challenging circumstances that could impact their ability to deliver great customer service.
Agent experience has direct impact on customer experience; happy agents lead to happy customers, while unhappy agents lead to unhappy customers. With the right tools and information to best serve customers, all contact center agents — including those working from home — can become more engaged and empowered, ultimately resulting in a better customer experience.
Why Employee Experience and Engagement Matters
Even before the current crisis, many organizations have recognized the importance of agent experience and engagement. Agent experience and agent engagement create higher levels of employee happiness and satisfaction, ultimately resulting in improved business outcomes, and customer satisfaction.
In its 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report
, Gallup wrote: “Employees who are engaged are more likely to stay with their organization, reducing overall turnover and the costs associated with it.” The report notes that engaged employees feel a stronger bond to their organization’s mission and purpose, making them more effective brand ambassadors. Perhaps more importantly, and as it relates to the contact center and customer experience, engaged employees build stronger relationships with customers, helping their company increase sales, profitability, and customer retention. In addition, engaged employees are better motivated and stay with a company longer, which reduces onboarding and training costs.
The Experience Cycle
There’s an interesting cycle when it comes to agent and customer experience. If a customer has a bad experience — a product didn’t work, a package arrived damaged, etc. — they’re already frustrated when they reach out to the contact center, and may take it out on the contact center agent. That in turn leads to a poor agent experience, ultimately making the customer experience even worse. With increased call volume during the current pandemic, wait times and handle times are getting longer and longer for many organizations — especially those in hospitality, financial services, healthcare, and government. Contact center agents are under a great deal of pressure from increased volume and the stress of having to work in a home environment that may not be optimal. Many may be feeling more anxious and discouraged.
Improving the Agent Experience: It’s Not Rocket Science
How can you enhance the agent experience? It’s all about engagement, empowerment, and motivation, while encouraging agents to use their skills, knowledge, and insight to make key decisions and improve processes. Workers want to make an impact and produce positive outcomes. When agents have the right tools, information, and technology, and can use their skills, knowledge, and insight to solve customers’ issues effectively, they have a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Contact centers can take advantage of the various technologies that enhance agent engagement and AX, including analytics, collaboration, enhanced routing, and more.
For example, with access to customer information or a customer profile that includes information about purchase and transaction history, the likely reason for the interaction, and information about past interactions, agents are better equipped to service the customer properly and solve their problem more expeditiously, while reducing customer frustration.
Capturing information at every stage of the customer journey and marrying it with information about the customer makes agents more knowledgeable about the customer and why they’re contacting the company, which empowers agents to provide better and faster service. For example, tools like Selligent’s Experience Cloud
, an intelligent engagement platform with Universal Customer Profile unify all customer data to provide agents with the insights they need to better serve customers. Companies can turn this into “actionability” and take action to fine-tune operations. With a dashboard view of the customer profile, agents understand who the customer is, what they buy, what they’ve recently browsed online, and/or offers they’ve received, which improves the employee experience and empowers them with information to quickly resolve a customer’s issue.
Empowering agents to make decisions to best serve customers’ needs rather than just reading a script is another way to enhance AX and agent engagement. Especially during challenging times, organizations need to focus on maintaining and increasing sales and revenues. With a 360-degree view of customer interaction data and AI-driven insights, agents can determine appropriate upsell opportunities and the next-best action to take to best serve each customer. This helps drive sales opportunities, resulting in increased revenue.
In addition, technologies like intelligent routing help ensure that agents receive the right types of customers and interactions that match their skillset and expertise, allowing them to answer questions and resolve the customers’ issues.
Whether working from home during a crisis or in a physical contact center in a post-COVID-19 world, agents who are motivated, engaged, and empowered are happier and more satisfied with their jobs and will provide better customer care. Using tools and technology to help agents better serve customers goes a long way to improving the agent experience.
Remember, happy agents lead to happy customers, and happy customers are loyal customers.
This post is written on behalf of BCStrategies, an industry resource for enterprises, vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing business communications arena. A supplier of objective information on business communications, BCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of the dynamic business communications market.