It’s true that customer experience is a critical component to the overall success of a company, but what often gets forgotten is the people behind the scenes. The ones creating those game-changing experiences. Excellent customer service starts when agents are happy and empowered to do their best work. Part of that is ensuring they have the right tools and technology available to quickly address and resolve customer inquiries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a cornerstone of many customer experience strategies, but it’s important to not forget about the people behind the bots.
While AI can assist, it is just one of the many engagement channels and tools that agents must keep up with. A recent study found that agents use an average of three different systems to service customers. This along with the growing number of channels and the volume and complexity of incoming queries agents are having a hard time keeping up. Though AI is certainly helping alleviate much of this, it isn’t a replacement for human intelligence. creating a best-in-class customer experience is about finding the right balance between the two. When agents become overwhelmed and their needs are neglected, they burnout, become frustrated and offer sub-par customer service – not what any company wants.
To avoid agent overload, companies should develop strategies across three main areas:
1. Championing Team Collaboration
Traditionally, when an agent can’t answer the question or needs assistance, the individual is transferred to a second agent and the customer generally must start over in explaining their issue. Today’s customer doesn’t have a ton of patience for transfer after transfer. While it’s not expected that every agent is an expert in every matter, it is expected that customer service teams can seamlessly collaborate (either behind the scenes or with the customer) to solve issues quickly and while avoiding the dreaded “pass-off”. It makes the customer feel that they have a team of people working to solve their issue and gives agents the support they always wanted.
2. Sharing (Knowledge) is Caring
Training and job coaching are an important part of an agent’s job – sharing insights and experiences helps the entire customer service team grow. As agents work together and learn from one another, they offer better customer experiences. Whether it’s incorporating tools that allow supervisors to join conversations or providing an AI-powered assistant that can help agents ensure they have the most updated information about company policies, inventory, etc. and ensures that the customers are getting a consistent experience no matter who they talk to.
3. Accessing Information at Lightening Speeds
The last thing a customer wants is to be put on hold. Their time is valuable, and they want resolution quickly without waiting endlessly for agents to gather information. In fact, agents spend over half their time simply understanding who the customer is and the nature of the inquiry. AI-powered chatbots can gather this information in real-time – informing the agent of who they are talking to, their history with the brand, the potential problem the customer is having, and how to solve it. Having this information at the outset leaves agents more time to spend on resolving the issue and creating deeper customer relationships.
The best customer experiences come when the right technology and the right humans come together to deliver it. Technology alone can’t deliver the type of personalized experiences we all want, and humans alone can’t scale to meet the volume of inquiries coming in. The combination of the two, however, can make a huge impact on both the customer and setting agents up for success leads to a happier, more productive and loyal workforce.