cusotomer experience

8 Tips for Enabling Contact Center Agents

The role of the contact center agent may seem straightforward at first: to field customer communication and resolve issues as quickly as possible. For the enabled agent, though, the job is more extensive than that. Additional trust and responsibility means a more substantial role for the agent and better service for the customer.

1. Allow agents to set their own goals, which will make them feel more invested in their job. This doesn’t have to be a replacement for goals set by the contact center, but in addition to them.

2. Let agents create their own solutions to common problems. When a few agents identify the same difficulty, have them work as a group to come up with a resolution. Their new process can be implemented and tested within the group to measure its effectiveness.

3. Regularly update the contact center’s in-house best practices guide, which should answer the questions agents ask during their shift. This single point of reference will keep agents knowledgeable, arming them with the information they need to best serve the customer.

4. Rotate agents in project management positions. Contact centers should always be looking for new ways to improve the customer experience. Give each agent the opportunity to head projects that will improve contact center focuses, like script structure, social media interaction and repeated call rate.

5. Use the buddy system to partner agents who have important yet different strengths. Each agent will be able to take on the role of a mentor, while at the same time learning new tactics.

6. Instead of requiring every agent to work a traditional nine-to-five schedule, permit them to choose flexible hours. Agents feel more respected when they have some control over their schedule and they’ll show up to work in a better mood.

7. Empower agents to make management-level decisions, like offering refunds. Train them to recognize situations where these offers are appropriate and clarify the red line they shouldn’t cross.

8. Create a corporate culture where agents are encouraged to share ideas. This can be in the form of an idea box (or custom e-mail account) or during informal meetings. Some contact centers offer a monetary award when they use an agent’s proposal.

It’s always possible to further enhance the customer experience. Enabled agents are better able to positively affect customer satisfaction and retention.

First Contact Resolution Best Practices

First contact resolution (FCR) is one of the key performance metrics of any contact center. FCR is an integral performance indicator, for both the customer experience and for determining the operational efficiency of the contact center. Several factors are responsible for FCR, including complexity of transactions, agent experience, quality of agent training and the tools that the contact center uses. Consider incorporating the following FCR best practices into your strategy.

1. Analyze the repeat contact that occurs across all contact channels. This offers a broad spectrum of insight about the interactions that are happening. Root cause analysis can be used to identify the reasons why customers aren’t having their issues handled during first contact.

2. Analyze customer profiles for predictive contact patterns. Create customer profiles based on this analysis and leverage customer information to provide intelligent service automation and routing. When contact center agents know the prior efforts of a customer, they can provide customized guidance during the interaction.

3. Track contact reasons on various channels. Customers will use preferred channels for specific contact reasons. Staff can be allotted to these communication channels based on expertise and ability to achieve FCR. Additionally, the omni-channel customer experience should include self-service options, but sometimes the customer isn’t able to solve their problem on their own. When communication is routed to an agent, the agent should be alerted to the reason for the call so they can pick up where the customer left off.

4. After reviewing contact patterns and analyzing customer profiles, identify inefficient or problematic contact center strategies. Then, conduct process and policy evaluations to find out which procedures can be changed to prevent future problems.

6. Some contact center managers choose to identify situations where FCR is not possible and then subtract those types of contacts from the equation. For example, if manager approval is required for waiving charges, escalation is necessary and FCR cannot occur. This type of contact is sometimes taken out of the FCR equation.

7. Don’t close incidents and assume that FCR has been achieved until the customer considers the issue closed. Many customers say that one of the main reasons for repeat contact is because they’re not satisfied with the response they received, even if it was actually the correct response. If you don’t take this into account, the contact center’s FCR rate could seem higher than it really is.

It’s not realistic to believe that every single issue will be able to be resolved during first contact. For most contact centers, there are situations that require additional work, research or help. However, to see FCR improve means that the customer experience and the contact center’s efficiency are both progressing.

Tips for Mapping Customer Touchpoints

In order to achieve business outcomes, successful brands understand that they have to develop a customer-centric outlook on the customer experience. Throughout the journey, touchpoints must be matched with breakpoints, which are the interactions that decide whether or not the customer becomes loyal or maintains loyalty. These four tips can be applied to customer journey mapping, with importance paid to touchpoints.

1. Universal Touchpoints: At first, map out universal touchpoints, which are ones that can be applied to all of your brand’s customers. Eventually, you’ll create more specific experience maps with more distinct touchpoints.

2. Detail Each Touchpoint: Make a list of touchpoints and pay extra attention to the ones that serve as breakpoints. For each one, include a description, interaction method, and customer expectation. At this step, you may need to get other people from the organization involved. Many organizations find it helpful to collaborate with their customer advisory board when mapping the customer journey. Working sessions and interviews will help capture data about customer expectations.

3. Visualize the Touchpoints: Visually illustrate the customer journey map, including flow from one touchpoint to the next. Having a visual will help you to see areas that work well and also areas that need to be improved. Spend extra time with the touchpoints that act as breakpoints.

4. Further Customize Each Touchpoint: Based on the data that was gathered throughout the mapping process, brands should revisit each touchpoint and further develop content that’s more relevant to the customer.

Competition, price transparency, and short product lifecycles mean that customer expectations are regularly changing. Improving the customer experience and fine-tuning the customer journey is an ongoing process.

Register for ‘Shaping the Journey of the Connected Customer’ Virtual Conference March 16 – 19 to learn more about Customer Touchpoints.  Attendance is free.