It’s seriously tricky to help your contact centre agents perform at their best. There’s an ultra-fine line to getting it right – and if your focus isn’t on Agent Experience, then it’s even harder.
Read on to find out what’s holding you back from creating the experiences that differentiate your brand and drive your business forward.
(Wondering what AX is? Read the first blog in this series to find out.)
In March 2020, technology helped us overcome some incredible challenges. We altered almost everything about how we lived and worked: swapping social events for Zoom quizzes, finding new brands to shop with online, and collaborating via video rather than in person.
At the same time, businesses scrambled to expand their cloud infrastructures to support hundreds (if not thousands) of remote workers. And they had to accelerate the automation and digitalisation of their customer interactions.
Contact centres were, of course, no exception to this rule. But they had to deal with some exceptional challenges as a result of this mad rush to digitise and automate customer service. Challenges that can limit (or ruin) customer experiences.
And these result in poor Agent Experience (AX) – and an increasing distance between agents and customers.
So, what’s going wrong?
There are three major, tech-related factors blocking both AX and CX in contact centres today.
1. Excessive focus on self-serve technologies and processes
Make no mistake, today’s customers want to resolve simple queries and requests themselves. And they want to do it via the channel of their choice – be that voice, email, web chat, or chatbot.
But it’s worth remembering that even customers who favour self-serve options still want to talk to knowledgeable agents when resolving more complex issues or requests. For example, in a piece of research from ContactBabel, customers rated web self-service as their preferred channel for high urgency enquiries, but email and voice for high emotion enquiries.
And a 2019 Forrester survey revealed that 63% of customers were happy to get service from a bot as long as they had the option to talk to a human agent if needed.
But too much automation can lead to customer and agent dissatisfaction. Customers can’t get the help they need, and agents can’t use their experience and expertise where it really counts.
2. Disjointed and unconnected technology and systems
Whichever combination of channels customers use to get in touch with you, what they want (and expect) never varies: fast, seamless service.
Unfortunately, many contact centres still work with disparate systems when it comes to dealing with and delivering an omnichannel customer experience. Which means agents have to carry out multiple logins and searches and toggle between screens – just to help their customers.
Your customers are left waiting while your agents are stuck scrambling.
And things can get even worse. (And often do.)
Because when systems aren’t connected (and therefore can’t share relevant data and insights), customer information gets stuck in silos. And then it’s impossible for agents to find it, no matter how hard they look.
And that means having to say a sentence that nobody wants to say (or hear)…
“I’m sorry, sir/madam, I don’t have that information to hand. Could you repeat it for the fourth time since you’ve dealt with us?”
3. Remote work can isolate, impede and alienate agents
Many contact centres have transferred from on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based systems to adapt to COVID-19 conditions, so it’s possible for agents to work from anywhere.
For some agents, this feels freeing. (The world is my office! My commute takes one minute!)
But because agents tend to be sociable and empathetic people who like being around other people, for many others, it’s been isolating.
Without the ability to collaborate and support each other, there’s a danger that your agents could become distanced from each other – and from your business.
Under these circumstances, it’s easy for your agents to become fatigued, unhappy and vulnerable to more serious mental health issues.
Unhappy agents won’t be motivated to provide excellent customer service. But they will be motivated to leave your business (taking all their talents and experience with them).
After all, if they can work anywhere now, what’s to stop them working somewhere else?
And it all adds up to create an Agent Experience gap.
In other words, each of these factors impact agents in ways that have a significant, negative knock-on effect for your customers.
The Agent Experience gap sees agents struggle with disjointed and unconnected systems and technologies, injecting stress into omnichannel customer experiences and putting them on the frontline of battles they can’t win.
Fix your AX – and great CX will follow
It’s not as bleak as it sounds though.
Because when contact centres improve their AX, they make a rapid (but lasting) difference to agent productivity and performance.
And as a result, they transform their customer experience.
At the end of the day, it’s about using technology to complement your agents’ capabilities – not to replace them. It’s about empowering agents with the information and connected, omnichannel tools they need to work in a smoother, smarter way.
And it’s about freeing them to be their real, authentic selves – the people who will delight and engage with your customers every day.
Find out how to improve AX in our next blog
If you stand with us and think improving agent experiences is critical for delivering great, connected customer experiences, then you’ve already taken the first step on your AX journey.
In our next blog, we’ll explain how to build a better AX in just a few steps.
If you don’t want to miss it, sign up below and we’ll let you know when it’s out.
You can also contact us to discuss your specific AX and CX challenges.