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Agent Experience: What it is and why it’s key to creating happier customers

Welcome to our new series on Agent Experience – your key to happier customers, more empowered employees, and a more efficient contact centre. Read on to find out why.

When a customer contacts your business today, they want it all their way. They want to get in touch via their chosen channel, and to self-serve wherever they can (as this Forrester study on the rise of self-service channels suggests).

Convenience is king, and this has encouraged contact centres to automate their customer journeys wherever possible. And they’re not exactly short of options.

From letting customers use a knowledge base, to setting up a chatbot on your website, to setting up email sequences, there’s an abundance of ways you can now automate your contact centre – and it’s seriously tempting to automate it all.

Unfortunately, though, this can be a very slippery slope. Like eating every donut in the sharing box yourself, ticking every box marked ‘automate me!’ can lead to serious problems.

Because when you have too much tech and not enough orchestration (of tools, people and processes), before long you end up with thwarted, frustrated agents and a sub-par customer experience.

Organisations that over-automate their customer service are making a fundamental and common error: they’re forgetting that providing a frictionless experience for your customers depends on providing a frictionless experience for your agents.

And that isn’t just about tech – it’s about people and processes to.

The problem with relying purely on technology

Customers have big expectations around how they want to contact you and how they want to be served. Vendors make big promises around what their technology can do. And you have a big to-do list and tough KPIs and goals to meet. 

So when you buy and implement a new solution and it doesn’t just fall short of expectations, but adds to your list of problems? That’s a rough position to be in. 

Too often, technology that’s meant to improve your customer experience ends up making life tougher for your agents – and for your customers. 

Technology acts as an obstacle to your agents when: 

1. Systems are difficult to use

Unfortunately, having to constantly switch between systems and piece together customer information from multiple sources is business as usual for many agents. This creates a slow, unsatisfying experience for customers, and a frustrating, disempowering experience for agents. 

2. Channels aren’t connected

Without proper channel orchestration, agents lose out on valuable, helpful insights that turn a contact centre customer experience from OK to oh wow. And customers can get stuck in a loop, unable to move from knowledge base to chatbot to agent without losing their progress and repeating themselves. 

Together, these challenges create more work (and stress) for you, disempower your people, and disappoint your customers in a big way. 

The new nucleus of customer interaction

Now you know (and we know) that you can’t deliver exceptional customer service without both technology and people. 

You need the power of automated, digital solutions to speed up your processes.  

And you also need the empathy, the quick and clever thinking, and the expertise of people.  

But how do you balance these two essential components of customer service so that you’re neither over nor under automated? The answer: you focus on Agent Experience. 

Think of it like walking on a tightrope. Spend too much time looking down at one side (adding too many people) or the other side (adding more too much technology), and you’re headed for a fall. But pick a point straight ahead to focus on (Agent Experience), and you’ll make it.

So, what is Agent Experience?

Agent Experience (AX) is to your contact centre agents what CX is to your customers: a measure of how happy they are with your business – and how well you’re serving them.  

Contact centres with the best AX get that tight-rope balance between technology and people right by combining best-practice automation and AI with empowered and empathetic agents. Which means they lift their contact centre and customer experience out of silos and improve it, dramatically.  

In the real world, that means using automated self-service when customer interactions are easy and simple, and using your people when they aren’t.  

It’s freeing your agents to be their helpful, empathetic, human selves – whether they’re in the office or at home. (And it’s ensuring that every agent can deliver a tailored service, whether they’re human – or virtual.) 

Ultimately, better AX lets you combine the personal touch with the power of automation. So your customers get a consistently great experience, regardless where or how they contact you.

How do you start building a better Agent Experience?

A better Agent Experience starts and ends with the customer journey.  

Creating a seamless, frictionless and satisfying customer journey should be your touchstone when looking for ways to improve your contact centre and customer service. And this comes down to equipping your people with access to expert knowledge, integrating cross-channel data, providing powerful AI tools, and giving agents an easy-to-use interface. 

(We know ‘easy-to-use’ gets bandied around a lot. A lot. So if you want to see what we mean, you can get a preview in one of our short demos, here.) 

Focusing on your people – and giving them the tools to excel – enables them to enjoy their jobs more, and ultimately, perform better.

What’s next?

This is a new approach to customer service and customer experience, so there’s a lot to unpack and explore.  

In our next post, we’ll dig into why your customers might be feeling more disconnected than usual. (Hint: It’s got nothing to do with geography.) 

If you don’t want to miss it, sign up below and we’ll let you know when it’s out. 

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