Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

Make 2020 the Year of the Agent

For the past several years, everyone has been focusing on the customer experience. Delivering a good – if not great – customer journey is crucial for building or retaining market share. Customers expect to be treated well at every point of contact. So, it’s no surprise that the customer experience has emerged as a key component of contact center strategy. And yet, too often, centers continue to fall short on delivery. The time has come for a new perspective.

If you want to improve the customer experience, focus first on the agent experience. Let’s face it, good agents are hard to find, much less retain. And it’s likely those you have are overburdened. Their jobs have gotten more complex while their desktops are getting messier with limited (or no) good resources to answer their questions. This unfortunate reality impacts performance on many fronts – training time, time to proficiency, handle time, error rates, and yes, even attrition.

We cannot make great strides in the customer experience unless we put the time, effort, and dollars into improving the agent experience. Most centers tackle “employee engagement” by focusing on factors like culture, leadership, pay structures, career paths, and communication. Those are all important considerations. And yet bottom line: You can’t engage and empower employees until you unburden them.

Technology can provide relief from the challenges they face while simultaneously helping them:

  • Feel like a part of a team with a good purpose
  • Tie their work to organizational goals
  • See measures of their success
  • Have the right information and tools at their disposal to succeed at the assigned tasks
  • Know where and how to get the help they need
  • Have the opportunity to grow and develop to contribute more

Technology plays an important role in starting agents on the path to success. (Click on image to enlarge.)

technology for new agents

A variety of tools help agents succeed and engage. (Click on image to enlarge.)

technology for established agents

A brainstorming session with my team identified some great ways technology gets used to enhance employee engagement:

  • Use advanced visualization tools that provide colorful, easy to understand feedback on how we’re doing, and how I’m doing
  • Let agents self-evaluate calls (using call recording and QM)
  • Automate QA scoring with speech analytics (making it more fair and balanced)
  • Give agents direct access to a portal where they can see their schedules and request schedule changes
  • Use a Unified Agent Desktop to provide a “cockpit” that matches their tasks and workflow
  • Leverage Robotic Process Automation to provide agent assistance on routine tasks, guide them through complex tasks, and trigger follow up tasks
  • Speaking of bots… invest in chatbots or voice bots to help customers self-serve
  • Distribute scorecards appropriate to every level, including Execs outside the center, that show how the center is doing and how it is contributing to the business goals
  • Use Instant Messaging and Collaboration tools for communication (not just email)
  • Offer ongoing training modules, tied to development goals, delivered to the desktop at a scheduled time
  • Invest as much time and energy in Voice of the Employee surveys as the company does in Voice of the Customer surveys!

Want more ideas? Spend a few hours walking in your agents’ shoes to see what life is really like for them. Or, convene some focus groups to get their feedback on how they’d spend the company’s money to improve their on-the-job experience and performance. I like to offer up a hypothetical budget of $1 million to get their juices flowing! Ask them what they’d do to make agents happier and, in the process, improve the customer experience.

For more information, download our latest article from Contact Center Pipeline entitled Want to Improve Employee Engagement? Technology Can Help! »