The topic of the customer experience is dominating headlines, and it’s disrupting how entire industries do business. For customers, it means that brands will focus on delivering a seamless experience across communication channels that keeps the brand promise while giving customers what they want and need. For brands, it means retooling entire processes to meet the expectations of customers who are empowered to take their business elsewhere. To keep customers loyal, brands must implement the right tools and strategies to be even more agile in the coming year. The true customer experience lies at the intersection of brand promise and execution, and that execution happens through the contact center staff who are interacting with customers every single day.
By taking a fresh look at the contact center and shifting the focus to agent engagement, brands can empower representatives to deliver on the promise of a great customer experience. Here are three ways companies can lay the groundwork and become nimbler in the coming year to deliver the ultimate customer experience.
Contact centers are notorious for agent attrition. Recent reports indicate an annual turnover rate of 29 percent, while some brands experience even higher rates. This level of employee churn can wreak havoc on a brand, both financially and in the eyes of the customer. Not only does it cost approximately six-to-nine months’ worth of salary to train a new employee, customers will question a brand’s credibility if the contact center is inconsistent or always onboarding new staff. In addition, 82 percent of consumers would shop elsewhere after experiencing poor customer service, meaning that agents can have a profound impact on customer loyalty. However, many brands don’t view attrition metrics as a path to success, but it’s time for that to change.
Traditional call center metrics involve things like average handle time and first call resolution, but these static metrics do little to address the ever-changing needs of customers, and stress agents out with a feeling that they’re operating on a timer. According to Dimension Data, in the next two years, customer interaction levels are projected to rise, which will bring even more stress. To be effective, brands must rethink stale metrics and focus squarely on implementing the right tools and hiring the right team to reduce employee turnover. When success is benchmarked against employee longevity, customers can have a great experience – every single time.
Find the Bottlenecks
Between spreadsheets and antiquated systems, many contact centers are missing the insights that will give agents the necessary information to make quick and informed decisions. Often, if customers can’t get quick answers using self-service tools, they escalate their concerns to the contact center, meaning agents are handing the complex problems. For many brands, customer communication channels are managed in silos so agents never gain a compete view of the customer. Without that information, it’s impossible to efficiently address customer concerns. When staff are feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped to handle customer problems, customers get a disjointed experience and agents look for employment elsewhere.
However, when brands take the time to figure out agent workflow and identify bottlenecks and frustrations, they can have open discussions to map out solutions and tools to break those bottlenecks. For example, by implementing speech analytics, brands can truly hear what their customers are saying in near-real time in order to quickly head off any customer issues. In addition, analytics give deep insights into agent performance, which can inform coaching and training strategies. All of these insights can then be shared with the rest of the organization, which will finally allow brands to pull problems out by the roots and decrease agent call volume.
Equip and Empower
Contact center positions are not necessarily known for flexibility and employee empowerment, leaving many agents feeling disenfranchised from their company and their work. More often than not, those sentiments show up in conversations with customers. But, when agents are empowered and given the and feedback and training to succeed, something magical happens: agent turnover goes down and customer satisfaction goes up. Decreasing that turnover requires a more flexible working environment, better training, and data-driven feedback – and all of that starts with the right technology.
Modern, cloud-based workforce optimization platforms now give agents flexibility like never before, allowing them the freedom to work from home and access to things like self-scheduling and enhanced training thanks to readily-available customer and agent data. Through real-time feedback and peer-to-peer coaching, agents feel valued and empowered to make in-the-moment decisions to surprise and delight customers.
Given the emphasis on customer experience, it’s important for brands to rethink their contact center strategies and put the focus squarely on one thing: people. By focusing on people and mapping the path to zero attrition, brands can elevate the role of contact center staff to quickly make informed decisions about customers and deliver on the brand promise that customers have come to expect.