How to Improve Agent Experience
Imagine your call center is a souped up hot rod. Instead of turbochargers, transmissions, and roll cages, your call center has the latest in technology for call routing, workforce management, and CRM software. You’re all set, ready to cruise.
Now imagine that souped up hot rod on stock tires. No matter how much power you can produce, a lack of grip will result in poor performance on the track. The power only matters if you can connect it to pavement.
In your call center, the agents talking to your customers is where the rubber meets the road.
What is Agent Experience?
You’ve no doubt heard of User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (CX) and maybe even Employee Experience (EX) over the past few years. Agent experience is those same concepts applied to your customer service agents. It’s a holistic approach to ensuring agents are able and enthusiastic to serve your customers.
Why should you care if agents are happy with their job?
Happy agents create better experiences for their customers.
But if that wasn’t enough of a reason…
Poor Agent Experience Harms Everything
In the same way people put off oil changes or preventative maintenance on their care, it can be just as easy to dismiss or back burner agent experience. And just like with your vehicle, it could exacerbate a number of common performance issues. Improving your agent experience can ensure you are getting the most out of your performance improvement efforts.
Happy employees create great experiences for customers. Unhappy or apathetic employees check boxes. Valued customers calling in for help are interruptions to agents who have become unhappy or apathetic due to poor agent experience. You can put the pedal to the metal in your finely tuned customer service engine, but you’ll only be spinning your wheels if you lack traction.
Morale and Engagement
Everything becomes harder when a team has low morale. The positives get muted and the negatives get highlighted. It becomes more difficult to manage the contact center
Turnover and Retention
Hiring and training is expensive. It’s even more expensive when you have to do it constantly to backfill agents who leave.
Wait Times and KPIs
Unhappy agents are slower and have less urgency to assist customers. This results in longer calls, wait times, and worse First Call Resolution.
All of these things roll downhill to negatively impact the customer experience. Agent experience is an important part in the overall CX of any company.
How To Improve Agent Experience
Improving the experience of your customer service agents can be challenging. As with UX and CX, many factors combine to create an overall experience. You may not be able to attack it from every direction, but there are many different ways you can positively impact the outcome.
The difficulty of any job decreases when you have better tools. Are your agents’ tools built to the use cases they are currently being used for? Are they having to go back and forth between multiple software platforms to assist customers? How easy is it for agents to get the information they need during calls? The software agents use to process calls makes a huge impact on job satisfaction and performance. Having a purpose built, streamlined toolkit ensures agents can efficiently provide service while reducing unnecessary frustration and stress.
There’s nothing a great agent hates more than having the capability to help a customer but being unable due to policy or procedure. Are your agents having to ask for approvals on routine actions? Is there arbitrary required scripting that prevents natural interaction? In most cases, agents know where these roadblocks are negatively impacting customers. Help your agents help you by empowering them.
Recent advances in workforce management are enabling agents to have more flexibility with scheduling than ever before. While it may seem inconsequential from a business perspective, added flexibility is immeasurable for employees. Making a kid’s baseball game or dance recital, picking up the kids from school, running errands, or just relaxing. These little things go a long way towards a positive agent experience.
It might not always be possible from a financial standpoint, but it’s one of the most cited reasons for turnover among agents. Your agent experience extends beyond the walls of your contact center and into the standard of living. It can give you a quick bump, but is also not a panacea.
Even if the tasks are unexciting, it doesn’t mean the job has to be. Adding elements of gamification is a proven way to improve engagement and job satisfaction among agents. Contests are an easy way to improve the agent experience.
The number one reason people leave jobs is a negative relationship with their direct supervisor. Contact centers are notorious for promoting top performers, but failing to provide leadership and management training. Invest in and develop the people managing your agent workforce. Their relationships can make a difference-maker when it comes to attrition.
People are more engaged and productive when the work is means to an end. Provide your agents an opportunity to grow with the company. It also helps to create a sense of buy-in when employees understand the impact of their contributions to the organization.
Adding automation doesn’t mean getting rid of agents. Quite the contrary actually. Customer service automation can handle the dull and repetitive types of Tier 1 inquiries. Things like checking balances, order locating, data verification, etc. They don’t take a lot of agent brainpower, but they take a lot of agent time. These calls can become frustrating when taken in repetition for hours on end.
A virtual agent powered by conversational AI can take those very basic, yet mind-numbing interactions off of your agents’ plate. Your agents can become more specialized in the types of calls that have a bigger impact on customer success. Those customers don’t have to wait in long queues of customers checking on order status. Agents can answer them quicker and more proficiently.
Keep Agents Happy
You probably already knew how agent experience can negatively affect your call center. Hopefully, after reading this you have come away with some new ideas on actions you can take in your own contact center. You might not be able to implement all of the proposed solutions, but one that you can jump on today is automation.
You might think it’s too late to get started, but time is no longer a limiting factor. Flip CX has pre-built integrations with many of the most popular eCommerce platforms and phone systems on the market today. Our virtual agent can start automating your customer phone calls in under an hour.
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