Cure The Cause of a Bad Agent Experience (Not Just the Symptoms)

We all understand that agents are critical in delivering great customer experiences, so it makes sense that developing ways to keep agents happy with their work has been a focus of recent innovation in the customer service industry. Gamification, contests, and prizes, for example, are just a few of the tricks the industry has tried to keep agents engaged. But while these tools might have some impact on agent job satisfaction, they don’t ultimately result in higher customer satisfaction.

If agents have access to all the answers they need, accurate and consistent customer service should follow, right? Well, no.

That’s because just adding more fun to an agent’s daily life doesn’t change the fact that being an agent is a difficult, stressful, and tedious job. And unless that changes, any gamification or prizes are just covering up the symptoms of a bad agent experience. But what if we focused on improving the agent experience simply by making the job easier? Then we’d be solving the cause of the problem instead of just trying to fix the symptoms.

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For example, we’ve all seen painstakingly detailed knowledge bases that are designed to give agents all the information they need to handle any call. If they have access to all the answers they need, accurate and consistent customer service should follow, right? Well, no, because agents still need to search, read, and interpret information in the knowledge base which takes time, adds stress, and results in inconsistent service.

Let’s imagine we’re going on a road trip. If we have a map and a destination, we likely have all the information we need to get where we’re going. But there’s a reason no one uses a road atlas anymore: using a map to navigate involves the same process of search/read/interpret that we give our agents and it is a process that is error-prone, requires lots of effort, and takes the focus away from driving. And what if you take a wrong turn? You have to turn around, go back and find where you made the mistake, and then continue on in what you hope is actually the right direction this time.

But now that we all have turn-by-turn directions on our phones, we don’t make those kinds of mistakes anymore. At each juncture, our GPS just tells us what to do next and it continually updates to adjust the route so that no matter whether we miss our exit or stop for gas, we’ll still be guided to the right destination in the end. It’s the same information that a map provides, but the GPS filters out all the unnecessary information—the mile markers, rest stops, and back roads that you don’t actually need to pay attention to—so you don’t have to process, you just have to steer. The result is a journey that is simply more efficient and less stressful.

Further reading: Quality Scores and CSAT: The Oil and Water of Contact Center Management

In the same way, we can make the agent experience better by filtering out all the excess information and by providing specific guidance on what questions to ask, what to say, and what to do next, no matter where the conversation goes. Then, at every step of a customer interaction, from the initial authentication process to deep into a complicated call, agents feel more supported, more confident, and less stressed. Afterall, agents who can do their job effectively, efficiently, and confidently are happier employees. And naturally, your customers will appreciate the effectiveness, efficiency, and confidence as well.

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