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June 16, 2022

How Can We Be Better for Our Customer Service Employees?

How Can We Be Better for Our Customer Service Employees?

Mike Kuch

Senior Director. Solutions Marketing

Sixty percent of contact center agents say their companies don’t always provide the technology they need to address customer service challenges, and 34% say they don’t have the right data in front of them when speaking with a customer. As an agent, how would you feel if you were in a situation where you didn’t have the tools you needed to effectively help customers? No wonder today’s agent churn rate ranges from 30-45 percent.

The implications here are huge. Employees look for better work conditions, customers leave for better service, and companies end up spending a lot to replace agents. Whether you have two agents, dozens, or hundreds, here’s how you can show up and be better for these vital workers.

Look at the agent experience through the same lens as your customer experience.

Companies strive to make the customer experience personalized, effortless, and frictionless. The agent experience should be no different. How can you remove some of the friction that exists in your agents’ systems? How can you provide a bespoke, tailored desktop that’s suited to your agents’ exact needs? Apply experience thinking to the tools your agents use to make them more thoughtful, useful, and well laid out and you’ll be able to give them what they want and what you want for your business.

For example, many agents struggle with fatigue from managing too many applications. Make things easier by giving them one seamless collaboration application that can replace disparate tools used for video, chat, file sharing, and task management. A Workstream Collaboration application is your best bet. The all-in-one app allows customer service workers to collaborate with anyone in the organization in a persistent virtual workspace accessible on any device. Here’s why this is important:

  • It allows for an expert-centric approach to business and customer problem solving, ensuring the right subject matter experts can flow in to and out of teams and customer interactions as required. For example, an agent can chat with a supervisor in real-time about a complex query while the customer is on the line versus putting them on hold or transferring them. One of our clients, a healthcare payer, is excelling with this converged work approach.
  • This persistency is ideal for asynchronous work, ensuring that work continues to progress across time and location. For example, that agent-supervisor chat session will remain viewable long after the conversation is over – allowing both parties to view and refer to it in any other manner.
  • With Workstream Collaboration, there are no longer redundant or siloed apps. Just contextual communications and in-the-moment sharing as if agents and managers are communicating in-person.

Use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help agents do their jobs better and let them know your M.O.

Forty percent of people recently surveyed by Avaya believe AI enables more intelligent working, and this certainly includes customer service. Virtual agents, for example, help offload repetitive questions related to billing, order statuses, troubleshooting, and balance lookup to keep agents free for more complicated and time-sensitive issues. Virtual agents are also game-changing in that they can acquire knowledge in milliseconds and fully or partially automate almost any routine task including appointment scheduling, data entry (helping significantly reduce aftercall work) and email follow-up. Technology exists that makes it possible to launch a well-designed, ready-to-deploy, cloud-based virtual agent in minutes to start immediately streamlining transactions and automating tasks without any coding skills required.

Conversational AI is another good example of how AI empowers agents. The technology captures conversations, mines them, and then identifies clues and insights that can be used to make improvements from both a CX and EX perspective. For example, the solution can transcribe spoken words in real time, so agents don’t have to ask customers to repeat themselves (which tends to cause frustration and impatience). Conversational AI also highlights agent sentiment as conversations unfold, helping managers better assess agents’ attitudes, emotions, and opinions about their work. This also helps them identify areas for more targeted training based on key words or phrases spoken. These AI technologies are designed to help agents do their job more effectively, not replace them.

Shift after shift, customer service workers show up wanting to do the best job possible. Yet repeatedly, they withstand the most customer frustration. They answer the same repetitive questions. They deal with the “I want to talk to your supervisor” and the “I’m never doing business with you again” calls. They do this until they can’t anymore. It’s time for business leaders to think differently about the work these employees do and what their needs are. Some simple changes in thought and technology can go a long way in terms of agent retention and costs saved.

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