There’s an abundance of technology solutions available to help companies streamline their customer support programs. However, technology will only get them so far in their quest to build an effective customer engagement management strategy. This may sound surprising coming from someone who works at a cloud contact center solutions company, but there is no denying that there is a lot more that goes into providing great customer service. The key is to ensure world-class operational processes, accompanied by investments made in world-class software. Here are a few operational best practices to consider:
Cut back on scripts and encourage collaboration.
It’s common call center practice to provide agents with pre-written scripts to help guide them through live support calls. We’ve all heard them. But live agent interactions are becoming increasingly complex as self-service tools and general information on the web proliferate. Sticking to scripts is becoming less and less effective, and has the potential to negatively impact customer satisfaction. (When was the last time you rolled your eyes after an agent thanked you for being a loyal customer, even after your order was completely mishandled?). So first, agents need to be given permission, and even encouraged, to go off script to solve customer issues in the quickest manner. Second, collaboration with supervisors and other internal experts needs to be encouraged and facilitated through internal chat or even team collaboration solutions (e.g. Slack, HipChat, etc.). A recent study revealed that contact centers where agents actively collaborate performed on average 50% better than those where agents did not collaborate.
Encourage agents to become authors.
The best customer support teams learn from triumph and mistake and optimize their contact center practices accordingly. An easy way to start doing this is to rely on the team. After solving an issue for the first time, empower agents to write up the resolution to the issue and post to a knowledge base. The next time another agent encounters the same issue, he or she will have the resolution handy and the problem can be resolved quickly. Sure, agents may spend a little less time on the phones as they write these resolutions, but the knowledge base will swell with indispensable information that ultimately helps everyone. To take this a step further, the knowledge base could be made available externally to drive call deflection through self-service.
Focus on coaching and training.
It’s common for agents to burn out while doing their jobs. And it’s not only because of the increased complexity surrounding each interaction but also because too many contact centers lack effective coaching and performance management. Agents’ jobs aren’t easy, so it’s critical to provide them with knowledge and resources to set them up for success. With a quality management solution, agents can be provided with the coaching and feedback they crave. And given today’s workforce is increasingly dominated by millennials, performance management techniques must be modern and focused on collaboration and two-way dialogue rather just than one-way evaluations and scorecards. It’s almost a guarantee that agent capabilities and satisfaction will increase, attrition will go down and most importantly overall customer experience will improve.
While technology has advanced customer support in many ways, we can’t forget about the other components that make for a great customer experience. Contact center managers should take a hard look at their operational practices that accompany their technology investments and ensure they are optimized to meet the new demands on contact centers and agents.