The growth of remote working concerns all departments, including customer service. This helps to develop practices around the role of a customer service agent and to give it more importance. Supervisors realize that teams do not lose productivity and gradually grant them greater autonomy, contributing to better customer satisfaction. What axes can be adopted to develop this strategy?
1 – Focus on the new skills of advisers
The growth of conversational channels sheds light on new skills among employees. Customers expect to have personalized exchanges on the channels they use daily, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, far from scripts and automated responses. This requires that employees bring personality and a warm attitude to discussions, while remaining faithful to the brand’s tone.
To adapt to these new expectations, contact centers need to assess candidates’ service skills during the hiring process and ensure they are comfortable with written conversations. It is then essential that the company provides guidelines to employees while trusting them to personalize the interactions. Tools such as knowledge bases and response assistants can thus provide essential information, which the adviser complements and tailors according to the context.
2 – Don’t just focus on productivity
Productivity is one of the main indicators monitored in contact centers. It optimizes costs and ensures a response within the time frame expected by the customer. However, this KPI must be combined with other indicators to be relevant.
One of these is the first-contact resolution, measuring cases resolved without repetition. When customer service agents are assessed on this criterion, they can take more time to resolve a problem so that the customer is fully satisfied, without having to contact the company again. Both parties are therefore winners!
Zappos, the American online shoe retailer, is often cited as an example of this aspect. One of their employees holds the record for the longest call with a customer, for more than 10 hours. While this figure is an exception, it is indicative of the company’s mindset, which believes that advisers can stay online as long as necessary to satisfy the customer. This approach can also help create a unique bond that they will not find in a competitor.
3 – Give advisers the opportunity to make decisions
Providing employees with a certain degree of autonomy allows them to solve problems more effectively and to feel more fulfilled in their work. Setting up a framework in which they can take initiatives without asking for approval helps hold them accountable and provides solutions. This aspect is even more essential in remote working when employees are not working near their supervisors.
This approach can be implemented in different ways: a discount code offered in the event of a problem, a defined budget to resolve a difficulty, the possibility of planning a new delivery if the product is defective, etc. The company can define certain initiatives of this type, train employees on their use and let them decide when to offer this form of compensation to customers. This thus eliminates validation requests, for faster resolution of certain problems.
Trusting customer service agents encourages them to go beyond minimum effort and contribute to sales efforts. Contact centers are no longer only dedicated to problem-solving, advisers can proactively offer upsell or cross-sell tailored to customer needs.
4 – Using AI as an ally of advisers
With the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, the added value of advisers is asserting itself more than ever. While the answers to frequently asked questions can be automated, employees are dedicated to more complex questions, as customers expect: 74% of them want to talk to a human for this type of request.
When we observe the applications of AI in customer relations, it becomes obvious that this technology supports the employee to focus on tasks with higher added value. As their redundant and unstimulating tasks are reduced, the agent becomes more engaged in his missions.
In particular, we can distinguish three main qualities of advisers in managing complex situations: empathy to put oneself in the client’s shoes; a proactive attitude to find a solution to their problem; take the necessary initiatives. With these skills, employees provide support and solutions that cannot be offered by a chatbot.
5 – Provide access to intuitive tools
Giving employees intuitive and unified tools allows them to focus on their main mission, helping customers, without worrying about technical aspects.
This aspect is a major issue for contact centers, which becomes even more important in remote working. Indeed, advisers not only use digital tools to communicate with clients, but also with their colleagues when they need internal experts. Customer service managers can lose up to an hour a day when they have to use several communication applications.
To solve this problem, one of the priorities is to unify the management of its customer service channels. In this way, the adviser has access to a single interface to respond to all interactions, to which they can connect from anywhere via a web browser. Relying on a platform that also integrates team collaboration makes it possible to further optimize the productivity and autonomy of the adviser, with access to a single tool for all discussions.
The growing importance of the customer experience is redefining the role of advisers and the skills they need. To help them succeed in more complex missions, the notion of autonomy becomes essential. Leaders can go a long way to instill this culture, which will have a significant impact on the customer experience and employee engagement.