Keeping your contact center agents engaged, productive, and accessible—especially given the spike in customer interaction volume over the past year—isn’t an easy task. But it is worth it.
Research shows that 73 percent of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially than their competitors.
When contact center agents are focused on the issues that are affecting your customers, they deliver a level of service that drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. When agents are distracted and dissatisfied with their work, motivation wanes, output decreases, and the customer experience suffers. That’s why it’s so important to reduce mundane, repetitive, and monotonous tasks.
So, what exactly can contact center leaders do free their agents from the shackles of monotony and unleash their reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills? By offloading repetition and prioritizing voice as the customer empathy channel.
The Evolution of the Omni-Channel Contact Center
The modern contact center is dramatically different from the call centers of yesteryear. Once seen as a “necessary evil” to doing business, leading organizations now view the contact center as a customer experience hub that can drive business performance and improve every stage of the customer lifecycle.
Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have officially taken to doing everything online—from shopping for groceries to group fitness classes—and they demand digital-first customer service options from organizations like yours and mine. In fact, research from Salesforce reveals that 55 percent of customers—including 68 percent of Millennials and Gen Zers—prefer digital channels over traditional ones.
This is why digitizing the phone and consolidating channels into a single view for agents and call center supervisors is so important. At the same time, contact centers need to be enabling more and better customer self-service options through communities, forums, chat bots, and AI. By enabling customers to get help they need when and how they want it—whether it’s self-service, web chat, or text—omni-channel contact centers are freeing up valuable agent time to handle more in-depth inquiries and escalations over the phone.
Preparing Agents for the Multi-Channel Challenge
Asking anybody to perform the same job, day in and day out, with no variety, is a recipe for turnover and underperformance. Blended agents have the advantage of performing a variety of job duties throughout the day. Rather than burying agents in lengthy call queues full of frustrated customers and tons of after call work, the most productive contact centers are leaning on technology to bear the burden of increased customer interaction volumes and evolving customer communication preferences.
By offloading simple customer interactions to AI-powered self-service options and freeing up more time for agents to handle advanced issues over chat or voice, contact center leaders can improve key KPIs like customer wait times and keep agents active and engaged. Routine tasks like data entry and logging case details can be automated, and pertinent customer information can be served up in the moment to streamline case resolutions. Intelligent, skills-based routing means your customers always reach the best agent to handle their concerns on their preferred channel. Service quality and customer satisfaction improve, as do your agents’ overall work experience, sense of fulfillment, engagement, and productivity.
To develop multi-channel agents, contact center leaders first need to map and deeply understand the customer journey. In order to deliver a consistent customer experience across multiple channels, contact center leaders need to be able to answer questions like:
- What mix of interactions and touchpoints are customers taking to reach our contact center?
- Which topics are the most popular?
- Which topics could be offloaded from phones and chat to self-service?
- Which person-to-person channels are we equipped to manage successfully?
- Which channels should we nix?
- How can we effectively prioritize voice conversations for those who need it most?
You will need to ensure your agents receive adequate, ongoing training and development on
the new channels they may be using, and how to make each customer interaction more valuable than the last. If routine requests like account balance inquiries or ordering spare parts are now being offloaded to self-service and chat functions, a deeper understanding of your customers and a more empathetic approach to customer conversations is essential for agents to handle channels like voice where in-depth problem solving will be the norm.
Digital Technologies That are Empowering Customers to Engage on their Terms
Delivering great online customer experiences has been the top priority for customer service leaders for the past five years. Yet, few companies have taken meaningful action.
Join Upland for a webinar featuring Forrester where we’ll discuss five customer service trends organizations will need to adopt in order to best serve anxious customers devastated by the impact of the pandemic. You’ll gain insights into everything from automation to customer self-service to analytics, and how AI is at the heart of each of them. Register to secure your seat or to view the on-demand recording!