NEED FOR SPEED. Every millisecond counts. At least for business-critical web services such as...
When it comes to customer service, the conversation often revolves around new technologies that will help improve your Key Performance Indicators such as Net Promoter Score, First Call Resolution Rate, and more. But there seems to be a critical factor missing from this common consideration: your employees! Nothing will impact your customer service more directly than the actual people providing it.
At the recent CCW Executive Exchange show in Miami, TD Bank described their approach to omni-channel support. Montresa McMillan, SVP of Omni Strategy at TD bank, spoke about their journey towards providing omni-channel customer experience through creating an overall business strategy that involved multiple departments working together and agreeing to invest in one cohesive support experience. The goal of focusing on not just supporting additional channels but supporting them in a fluid and connected way was a critical factor in TD’s strategy and ultimately, the success of that strategy. The most important element in achieving this strategy was involving employees in the creation and execution of the omni-channel strategy from the beginning.
In general, omnichannel describes the change from one traditional customer support channel – phone calls – to multiple channels such as e-mail, social media, live-chat, chatbots, voice assistants and more. By chasing new channels and trying to be an early adopter, many companies lose sight of the human element. Given the ongoing turnover challenge in contact centers, this is a critical mistake.
Employees are the most valuable asset and especially in a customer service environment, agent turnover tends to outpace other industries. Motivating your top agents to stick with your company has a positive impact on your customers and reduces your costs.
There are a variety of different ways to motivate and show appreciation for your employees. Our focus is on how technology and knowledge management can be an important factor in job satisfaction and performance.
Why do Customer Service Agents Change Jobs?
Talking to agents, the number one reasons for leaving customer service jobs are:
- High volume of repetitive tasks and not feeling challenged
- Limited advancement and career opportunities
- Lack of direction, leadership and training
- Working with legacy systems and inefficient software
Chatbots for Agents
When it comes to customer service technology that could alleviate some of these issues, chatbots are probably the most relevant today. They are a great opportunity to both implement new technology (making management happy) and reduce low-level support inquiries that don’t require human involvement (making agents happy).
However, a chatbot is only as good as the information and employees it interacts with. Connecting your chatbot to your knowledge base will also ensure it has the most up to date information and won’t need to be separately updated.
Involve your employees in chatbot initiatives and demonstrate the benefits for them: chatbots will deflect tickets and annoying repeat questions that could be answered with a simple FAQ. This enables agents to focus on the more complex areas where they can add the most value and where emotional intelligence is required.
Finally, it is a new opportunity for agents to take on an additional role managing the chatbots and regularly monitoring and optimizing performance. This eliminates the more boring repetitive work they dislike and gives them new experience and job skills related to a hot current topic.
Easy to Use Technology
Being a customer service agent involves being surrounded by technology: IVR, speech analytics, a CRM, order management, e-learning, workforce and knowledge management and more. This means that agents not only have to deal with a wide range of different people and situations, but also an array of different software and technology.
Keep it simple!
For many employees it may even be their first real job and the long list of requirements for day-to-day work may seem more like rocket science than communication. This leads to frustration and eventually turnover if the software itself is not easy to use and if it fails to make the job more efficient. After all, machines exist to do the repetitive work, not humans.
What does Agent-Friendly Software Look Like?
Agent-friendly technology should at least provide:
- A clean, easy to understand interface and dashboards
- Self-explanatory features with little to no training required
- The ability to do repetitive tasks with 2-3 clicks
- Fast performance with little to no load and wait time
- Integrates with other critical software like Salesforce and Zendesk
Encourage your agents to stay with your company by making their lives easier. Technology is an essential part of their work, but it should complement their work and not be a stumbling block. If you achieve this, it’s a win for your agents, for your customers and for your company.
Fabian joined USU in 2018 after completing his MBA at the University of Texas, Austin. Before that, he worked at Henkel, Porsche and Bosch with a focus on international sales and marketing. At USU, his focus is knowledge management and customer service solutions, particularly for contact centers and service departments. He lives in Boston.