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Blog

Dec 06, 2016

Improving Your Agent Efficiency in Six Simple Steps

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

Customer service has always been seen as essential to establishing brand loyalty, yet many consumers will tell you companies have lost sight of that. Due to quick access to more information from the internet, consumer expectations have shifted. Companies must find ways to meet their expectations, fluid as they may be, and find ways to keep up as they continue to change.

Speed bumps to providing great customer service are everywhere, as numerous factors work together to slow the speed and efficiency of providing great customer service. Too many calls are escalated to supervisors. Agents are unable to answer questions. Too much writing is required to compose email and social media responses. These are but a few factors slowing down the process.

Customers value speed and efficiency with their customer service experiences:

If you are looking to improve the performance and efficiency of your agents, and increase customer satisfaction, here are six simple ways to improve contact center performance.

1. Improve agent happiness

Happy Man in a Field like a happy contact center agent

There are no doubts customer service agents have stressful jobs. They bear the brunt of consumer frustration with every aspect of your brand and products. Supervisors themselves acknowledge the job can be tough, with 87% saying their agents experience a moderate to high level of stress during their workday.

If you focus solely on first contact resolution and talk time as the keys to customer satisfaction, you’re losing sight of the best asset you have: your agents. They are one of the most influential ways consumers interact with your brand, and you are relying on them to create personal interactions that lead to engaged, happy customers. How can they be successful at that if they aren’t engaged and happy themselves?

Happy employees are less likely to leave, resulting in reduced hiring and training costs for your company. Organizations that engage both their customers and employees experience a 240% boost in performance-related business outcomes. If your agents are engaged, challenged, and trained properly, they will be better equipped to handle complex or unusual issues without needing to escalate them to a supervisor.

2. Reduce the number of applications on the agent’s desktop

Very few people love every single aspect of their jobs, and customer service agents are no different. Most of them choose this career because they love helping people and solving problems, and they know that more mundane work, like data entry and writing emails, comes with the territory. When they spend too much time on repetitive tasks like these, rather than talking to customers, their satisfaction and morale both decrease.

Are your agents accessing different systems using different credentials for loyalty, reservation, ordering, billing, and so on? Then it's time to equip your agents with a better, faster tool that can handle all that in as few places as possible. Besides, faster service drives consumer loyalty and lowers your overall costs -- the fewer applications the agent needs to juggle, the less time the customer has to wait for a resolution.

The more information you can provide the agent in one tool, the better. This will reduce the need for agents to switch back and forth between multiple applications. Consolidating the tools will also reduce training time by multiple weeks as the agent will have fewer applications to learn.

3. Build a single view of the customer

Chart showing single view of the customer from many channels

Having access to a full profile of the consumer allows agents to personalize the consumer journey with surprising precision based on a better understanding of individual customer needs. This single view pulls information about the customer from a variety of sources such as social media, call center data, interactions on your website, and so forth.

When the consumer connects with your brand, the agent can enhance the experience by knowing who they are and why they might be calling. For example, say a guest calls your hotel brand's contact center for help with an issue. An agent with a unified customer view would be able to see how often this guest has stayed at your hotels, what feedback they have had in the past, any recent social activity relevant to the situation, and more. Having all this information handy provides a better experience for agents and customers alike.

4. Provide knowledge management to guide conversations

If a customer is calling your company or is in the process of making a purchase decision, they want information -- and they want it now. They place great value on speaking with someone who is knowledgeable and who has accurate information about your products.

knowledge management system will provide product information and other important answers to the agent, relieving them from memorizing the information and ensuring accurate, consistent answers. A smart knowledgebase also can guide the agent through a conversation with the customer by providing consumer history and context-driven recommended actions.

Should the agent require further assistance during a customer interaction, your knowledgebase can give responses that are custom-crafted and automatically sourced.

5. Require collection of only pertinent information

Consumers hate repeating themselves! When they need help, they want your company to respect their time. To address this concern, you can configure your agent’s CRM to ask only for what is needed. The information the agent is required to gather during a conversation can dynamically change based on the reason for their call or the product in question. For example, if a customer is calling Customer Service because they slipped and fell in a store, the agent will need to ask at which store location the incident occurred -- but they probably don't need to know what the customer was purchasing. As soon as the agent enters the correct reason code into their software interface, a smart CRM will dynamically re-configure the screen to require only the most relevant information.

Another benefit is that other groups that may need information about issues, like Quality Assurance or Legal, can ensure the agents are collecting what they need, eliminating the need to call customers back with follow-up questions.

Finding a system that can gather all the necessary pieces of information -- and none of the unnecessary ones -- accelerates service resolutions and makes consumers happier.

To learn more about how to streamline agent interactions for the benefit of all, check out the short video below:

6. Divert routine calls with effective online self-service

To free up your agents' time and have them deal with more complex issues, you must help your customers help themselves. With an online and mobile self-service strategy, you can eliminate the need for live agents to answer routine and repetitive questions. This is impossible without a self-service option that can understand questions as they are phrased in natural language and can deliver relevant, specific answers. Learn more about smart, effective self-service in this two-minute video.

Want to see how Astute Knowledge or ePowerCenter CRM can help improve your agent efficiency? Schedule a personalized demo today.

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