Customer service agents are working on the frontline! They deal with complex and time-sensitive customer problems every day, all to keep customers happy and profits rolling in. Customer service is invaluable in 2020. Organizations that focus their efforts on customer service stand to gain huge rewards. These rewards come in the form of increased customer loyalty, improved customer acquisition rate, improved customer retention, and improved business reputation.
Customers no longer want to just pick the company that offers the lowest price product and complete the purchase with cold detachment. They want to buy from companies who value them, companies they can trust, and companies who can solve their issues quickly if they arise. This is the crux of customer experience. It’s about offering a stellar experience to your customers so that you imprint your company on their minds. The next time they have a want or need that you can solve, they instantly think of your company because they had a great experience with you last time. Customers can make secure relationships with the companies they buy from. They trust you to deliver every time. This means they can totally eliminate the anxiety that comes with buying from a new company.
And how do you deliver excellent customer service and excellent customer experience? With excellent agents. You can’t have an effective and high-quality customer service operation without skilled and competent agents. You can get even higher performance from skilled agents when you improve their working environment. That’s why today we’re going to be talking about the ways you can improve your customer service agents’ experience at work. Let’s take a look.
No agent can truly thrive when they are held back by outdated tools. The right technology can have a huge effect on the productivity and efficiency of your agents. A report by Gallup found that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity. The exact tools you utilize will differ depending on the nature of your operation and what you hope to achieve. However, some industry tools have been tried and tested – proving to be successful additions for the majority of businesses who use them. One such tool is video conferencing software. In fact, 94% of businesses that use video conferencing software say it increases productivity.
In truth, there is an almost unlimited number of tools, apps, and systems that can vastly improve the day to day tasks of customer service agents. Picking the right ones is essential. Below are some of the features that can greatly improve productivity for customer service agents:
Training isn’t just for when someone starts their job! There’s always something new that you can learn and apply to your job to increase your success. You should be running regular customer feedback surveys and adapting your approach to customer service based on their findings. Agents can then be trained in the new way of doing things. Training doesn’t always have to be classroom-based – it doesn’t have to mean standing down agents for long periods of time. Companies often mistakenly think that training will involve significant amounts of downtime, so they opt to avoid it altogether beyond the initial training. You can create short training videos, short briefings, games, quizzes, e-learning courses, and so on.
Agents should also be able to feel that they can always approach their managers for help, should they need it. There needs to be an open system of communication where agents can ask for help or ask for more training. Managers should ask agents whether they need any extra support and preferably do this privately so that agents don’t feel compelled to fall in line with the majority consensus.
Experienced and high performing agents should also be tasked with training new agents. Everyone likes to feel good at their job and appreciated for their skillset. This is one way you can show agents that you value the contribution they make to your company.
It’s no secret that employee turnover is high in contact center jobs. Contact centers have always had higher can average turnover rates when compared with other industries. There are a number of reasons for this. The main reasons being the high stress of the job, poor compensation, and lack of job satisfaction. One crucial element that lots of businesses overlook when it comes to improving their agents’ experience and encouraging them to stick with the company is workplace culture.
People want to work for places that they feel connected to. We want to work with our friends. We want to look forward to more than just the work. We want to feel alive when we’re at work and like we’re a valuable part of a moving operation. There’s more to creating a positive workplace culture than simply throwing a few parties. Below are a few ways you can create a workplace culture that will reduce your employee turnover, improve agent happiness, and make you a company that other agents want to work for. Let’s take a look.
Strategy – Don’t just go in blind. Take a close look at your agents, who they are, how they work, and how they feel. Run anonymous employee satisfaction surveys and find out what they think about their workplace.
Collaboration – Use advanced collaboration tools to encourage your agents to be social and communicative. You want your agents to know they can rely on their colleagues or their managers.
Gamification – Create games out of the boring elements of the job. Allow agents to earn gamification style rewards like digital badges and trophies for their hard work. According to research, 87% of employees are more productive with gamification apps.
Achievable targets – Contact agents are high-pressure environments. Agents often feel like they are climbing Everest by trying to meet over-ambitious targets. If agents miss their target by a small margin, they will still feel like a failure and this can make them feel stressed and less motivated. Set achievable targets and watch your agents succeed. You can also set a target scale, where reaching a high target means they are performing excellently, and meeting standard targets means they are performing great. If most agents aren’t hitting their targets then there’s something wrong with the targets, not the agents.
Leadership – Excellent leadership is a must! Leaders need to reflect your company with their actions, words, and behavior. Take a look at your leaders and decide what works well. Do agents respond best to one leader? How can you emulate that leader’s qualities in others?
Social Events – Organize regular team bonding activities to strengthen loyalty
Everyone likes a success story! People don’t like to stay in jobs where they can’t see themselves progressing. This progression could mean a higher-ranking role with more responsibilities, staying in their own role but with more responsibilities, or even an entirely different role that requires a different skill set. The point is, we all have goals for our future and want to find a way to achieve them.
You can vastly reduce turnover, improve workplace culture, and improve agent experience by offering more opportunities. There’s a pervasive opinion that working in a contact center is a dead-end job. This is because agents often get stuck in these roles for many years, possibly even decades, without any real chance of progression. It can also be hard to transition out of contact center work once you have built up experience in it. This is entirely unfair because customer service agents have a huge amount of transferable skills. They are incredibly resilient individuals. They are highly emotionally intelligent. They understand people like no one else. They are also expert problem solvers.
There’s a high probability that we’re going to see a significant shift in what skills are deemed essential to workforces in the future. AI and automation are rapidly advancing, and this will result in less need for employees with hard skills. For example, we can train computers to write code. However, it’s much harder to train computers to understand the nuances of human communication or emotion. These are areas that agents excel.
Don’t make your agents feel like they are tied to their current job role with no chance of moving forward. Instead, create new job opportunities for agents that show the skills you admire. Agents also work harder when they have something to work towards. You should have a solid career progression plan so that all agents can understand the paths they can take.
You should also talk to agents individually in one on one meetings to find out their career goals. If their goal is to work in an entirely different role, then don’t see this as them not being committed to their current role. As we just mentioned, agents have a huge amount of transferable skills and they might want to work in a different role for similar reasons that motivated them to be an agent in the first place. Nurture good employees and watch them thrive.
Beyond job opportunities, create opportunities for them to develop their skills. These might be skills that are relevant to their current role, to a completely different skill. Where possible and appropriate, try to offer development opportunities to everyone. If you have a project management e-learning course and an agent wants to complete it – let them. You don’t have to set aside work time to allow them to do this, but simply giving them the opportunity lets them know that you support their goals for the future.
We’re extremely excited to announce that we have changed our company name to CommBox. It’s still the same company with the same awesome people! just a new name, a fresh look, and a brighter future.Read full story