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June 25, 2024

Staying agile in the contact center industry: The role of the connected agent

Staying agile in the contact center industry: The role of the connected agent

Omar Javaid

SVP and Chief Product Officer of Avaya

In today’s experience economy where customer experience is paramount, the concept of a connected agent is becoming a huge area of focus for contact centers. Gartner refers to this as the “connected rep” and defines it as a strategy that enables customer service representatives (contact center agents) to perform high-quality assisted service at scale. 

The goal of a “connected rep” strategy is to bridge technology and talent using context, guidance, and design to reduce agent overload and increase consistency across interactions. Gartner reports that, on average, companies with a “connected rep” strategy can improve contact center efficiency by 30%. 

The business case: 4 primary needs

Need #1: Inexperienced service reps need to perform in highly complex environments as if they are experienced, tenured agents. 

Investing in training, coaching, and recruiting high-skilled talent only goes so far and can be very costly. Business leaders need to go beyond traditional talent levers with a technology enablement strategy that supports reps’ performance in a more scalable way. 

Need #2: Companies need new solutions to drive down attrition. 

The contact center continues to be a rotating door of employment, costing up to $20k per agentThis high turnover is in part due to existing technology investments falling short on solutions for frontline staff. Leaders need to effectively enable reps with the necessary technology to deliver high-quality service, efficiently. 

Need #3: Remote reps need to perform just as efficiently as if they were on-site.  

Remote agents face the same issues on-site reps do, with the added challenges of working at what feels like arm’s length. Leaders need to empower remote reps with technology that drives connectedness, gives them tools and resources to be successful, improves service, and fuels business performance outcomes. 

Need #4: With the contact center becoming more data-driven and predictive, staying agile is crucial. 

AI is a core part of the “connected rep” strategy, from advanced analytics capabilities that filter mountains of customer interaction data, to automation that helps build workflows that improve service interactions. 

3 examples of agent enablement technology

Artificial Intelligence: Improve quality and consistency at scale.

AI can analyze 100% of customer interaction data in real-time and filter it down to the most valuable insights agents need during conversations, enabling them to actively listen to customers and avoid the pitfalls of constant multitasking. This also further enables them to focus on delivering the “human aspect” of customer service that is often missing and longed for in customer service interactions led entirely by virtual agents; the connected rep is empowered to spend less time fielding the necessary insights from customers, and more time delivering positive, high-quality service that reinforces the intangible value of the human touch.

AI can then take these data-driven insights and augment them with real-time assisted service. For example, capabilities like machine learning and automation can embed the most important part of a knowledge management article directly into a rep’s workflow to reduce the need to search for or interpret supporting information. According to Aberdeen, contact centers that use AI to empower agents with this kind of real-time guidance see a 3x greater customer retention rate. 

Here are other ways AI helps activate a “connected rep” strategy:

  • Guided scripts for better conversations 
  • Proactive issue identification
  • Live captions for immediate understanding 
  • Real-time language translation 
  • Real-time monitoring of customer intent and sentiment 

Connected Rep Desktop: One view with everything reps need.

It doesn’t matter how helpful AI-powered guidance is if agents can’t easily find, consume, and use this information. According to Gartner, only 34% of service and support leaders view their desktop investment as effective. On-screen real estate is limited, which makes desktop layout and design crucial. Reps need to have the right information dynamically presented to enhance their employee experience and, ultimately, the customer experience. Here’s what this means:

  • Just-in-time information: presenting information based on context and personalization (ex: automatically pushing next best actions based on specific triggers that have taken place within an interaction).
  • Empowering reps through intelligent desktop design to handle complex cross-channel journeys and efficiently service high-value customers. 
  • Creating a single pane of glass view for reps to see insights and recommendations so they can use their judgment on which opportunities to pursue and how to best proceed. 

Keep in mind how you design your desktop for remote reps that use different equipment. For example, agents may use multiple monitors, a single desktop, or tablets.  

Subject Matter Experts: Real-time access to supercharge results.  

AI-powered guidance plus a smart, intuitive desktop should have your reps feeling like experts who can handle even the most complex inquiry, but they’ll inevitably need help at some point. A critical part of the “connected rep” strategy includes anytime, anywhere access to subject matter experts with a user experience that’s as simple and easy as a rep’s favorite collaboration tool such as Slack, Teams, or Avaya Spaces. 

It shouldn’t matter who the expert is or where they’re located. Customer experience isn’t confined to the contact center, and neither should reps be for solving customer problems and efficiently serving them. Avaya offers a range of tools that enable customer service, sales, and back-office employees to call, text, share files, and meet via video with a single click. 

Ultimately, the idea of the “connected agent” is a great example of an out-of-the-box, creative strategy for contact centers and other customer service-centric organizations to take a step back and reconsider their approach to both ends of the employee and customer experience. Though we’ve gone through decades of technological transformation that bred smaller, micro-changes to processes and overall CX strategy for contact centers, the rapid pace of digital transformation over the past few years and moving forward opens our eyes to the need for constant evaluation of how to best empower our agents to perform and feel their best.

Visit our website to explore the ways Avaya can enable your contact center rep to become a connected agent.

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