Brands need to find a way for their teams to deliver the friendly, empathetic, personalised and efficient service that underpins long-term customer relationships.

Jane Dance, Head of Marketing (IP Integration)

In the realm of customer service, contact centres play a central role. They have become a primary interface for brands, influencing customer experiences and shaping brand reputation. The role of the Contact Centre agent has evolved too. Today, they are true brand ambassadors, whose behaviour can have a direct impact on whether a customer chooses to make an initial or repeat purchase, or recommend the organisation to others.

However, empowering agents to provide the best possible customer experience is often easier said than done. Increasingly high consumer expectations, a raft of regulatory requirements and challenging market conditions – where many businesses are required to do more with less – make it harder for agents to deliver the desired level of service. Growing workloads, the pressure of juggling remote work, and the need to master multiple, disparate technology solutions only add to the challenge.

Against this backdrop, it is perhaps little surprise that agents sometimes struggle to show their human side. Brands need to find a way for their teams to deliver the friendly, empathetic, personalised and efficient service that underpins long-term customer relationships.

Let technology take the strain

It may sound ironic but the answer to helping agents be more human is technology. For example, increased levels of automation remove the burden and frustration of having to deal with mundane and repetitive enquiries, freeing up agents to focus on more complex or rewarding interactions; those that require a high degree of intuition, understanding and problem-solving.

With the right technology at their fingertips – and the skills required to get the most out of these solutions – agents can be transformed into ‘Super Agents’ or ‘Augmented agents’ who leverage automation tools, AI, and data insights to speed up resolution times while, at the same time, offer a personal touch. The impact of Augmented Agents extends far beyond immediate interactions to ultimately influence customer loyalty, brand perception and overall business performance.

Helping humans be more human: a five-point plan

To help agents interact with customers in a more human and authentic way, brands should focus on five key areas:

  1. Look at ways to streamline technology. Disparate tools and solutions slow down the customer journey and are cumbersome for agents to use. Instead, organisations should explore platforms that support single desktops, and which integrate Knowledge Management and Agent Assist technologies to serve up the very latest information in real-time. This ensures agents never have to go searching for answers and can have total confidence in their decision-making capabilities.
  2. Explore AI and automation tools. Customer enquiries are growing in number and cover a vast array of topics, so it is vital that simple, repetitive queries and tasks are dealt with automatically. Voicebots, chatbots and other self-service tools, as well as caller identification and verification (ID&V), are all ways to divert work from humans to machines. What’s more, as these tools speed up resolution times, customers benefit too. On a more sophisticated level, companies can deploy AI to analyse customer insights and assess how they might be feeling. Armed with this information, agents can adapt their tone or approach to deliver a much more empathetic customer experience. This is particularly useful when assisting vulnerable customers or handling complaints.
  3. Gamification and Performance Management tools are an effective way to keep agents motivated, guarding brands against the high attrition rates that afflict so much of the contact centre industry. Gamification techniques make everyday tasks more fun and are proven to boost productivity and employee engagement. Brands should combine this approach with Performance Management tools, which provide managers with a clear picture of their top performers. This visibility is especially important in hybrid working environments.
  4. Workforce Management. Investment here provides agents with far greater flexibility over their schedules – including over when they work from home and when they come in to the office – while at the same time optimising staffing levels. Not only does this enhance employee satisfaction it also ensures operational efficiency.
  5. Technology is only one part of the puzzle; new solutions need to be complemented with comprehensive learning and development programmes that equip agents with the skills they need to deliver exceptional customer service. Feedback, training, coaching and other personal growth opportunities should be readily available and encouraged. Learning opportunities shouldn’t be limited to how to use different tools and touchpoints, they should also cover soft skills, so agents can seamlessly resolve the most challenging and complex of interactions.

As the face of the brand, it is vital that Contact Centre agents have the correct tools and sufficient time to deliver truly exceptional service to each and every customer. By prioritising the employee experience in this way, organisations can boost engagement and slash attrition rates while at the same time handle complex enquiries and deliver truly personalised service. Ultimately, by allowing agents to be more human, brands will see an uptick in customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

Is your centre in need of a human touch?

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