Did you know that there are 265 billion support requests each year? And did you know that it costs businesses $1.3 trillion to service those requests? Even if a quarter of them are sub-standard, that’s still a lot of money to spend on poor customer interactions. 

Businesses must invest in resources that empower their customer service agents to do better work. Enterprise and communications technologies evolve and multiply so quickly that it’s tempting to rely on legacy systems, however, data-driven technologies can benefit customers and agents alike. By providing data-driven resources, businesses enable customer service agents to deliver efficient and personalized experiences.

Here are six ways businesses can use data to empower their customer service agents.

1. Agent Productivity Scorecards

An agent productivity scorecard is one of the customer service agent’s most critical tools. They display many aspects of job performance, along with anecdotes that agents can use for motivation. If designed well, agents can use scorecards to make small, incremental changes that will add up to solid performance improvements over time.

Unfortunately, scorecards are often ineffective because they’re misaligned with performance priorities. The purpose or goals of the agent scorecard must be established from the outset and inform its creation for it to be truly effective. For example, if tardiness is a major issue for a contact center, then one of the purposes of the scorecard may be to display schedule adherence.

Agent scorecards are often used to report on KPIs. Each business has different goals for agent interactions, and the only metrics on the scorecard should be those aligned with these goals. Many scorecards miss these metrics and/or include metrics that are unimportant. Just because a metric is an old standby does not mean it belongs. Scorecards should be concise, with only the most vital information represented so agents can focus on improving performance where it matters most.

2. Centralized Knowledge Base

A slow flow of information to the contact center negatively impacts the customer experience. When viewed from the perspective of agent time, it’s potentially millions of dollars wasted in search of answers to customer inquiries that are millions of dollars that could be saved by improved knowledge delivery. Agents can deliver faster, more consistent answers with the help of a centralized knowledge base that holds all product information, how-to guides, and other helpful documents. This resource can also shorten training time, so new agents are prepared to take calls much more quickly.

Some contact centers try to build an internal knowledge base using services already available to them, but agents need a solution that’s specifically built to enhance their performance. These solutions might have: (1) a capacity to self-learn, meaning there is automatic linking between answers based on search and usage that will help agents find the right answers quickly; (2) step-by-step guides e.g., question branches or how-to guides for troubleshooting; (3) and search capabilities so inquiries will quickly retrieve the most relevant answers.

A centralized knowledge base housed on a customer-facing website enables self-service which can dramatically reduce escalations in the contact center. As a result, agents should receive more complex requests, changing their role to one that is more advisory. This change in role tends to create happier, more engaged agents.

3. Real-time Omnichannel Reporting

Customers communicate a lot about themselves as they move through the customer journey, and they expect this data to follow them across channels so they can receive seamless service. Salesforce Research has found that seventy-five percent of consumers expect consistency across channels; without it, seventy-three percent will likely switch brands.

There is often a disconnect between this expectation and reality: Customer service agents cannot provide frictionless service if their access to customer information is limited. They are also fighting an uphill battle to meet their performance goals. If agents can’t see when customers are showing signs of defection they can’t try to repair the relationship. And if agents can’t see order histories, they can’t recommend relevant products.

Customer service operations can utilize real-time omni-channel reporting to give their agents a 360-degree view of every customer. If agents can access entire customer histories up to the moment of interaction, they can pick up right where customers left off in the journey and maintain consistent, meaningful dialogue. Real-time reporting can deliver everything agents need to know for accurate and proactive ticket handling communication preferences, products purchased, and all brand interactions that have ever taken place.

4. Customer Analytics

Consumers want personalized service. In fact, sixty-six percent of them are at least somewhat likely to switch brands if they feel they’re treated more like a number than an individual. Personalization can have a huge impact on the lifetime value of a customer, so many businesses that prioritize experience and/or sales are employing customer analytics to help their agents deliver an experience that’s unique to every customer.

As with performance scorecards, customer analytics are not one-size-fits-all. Analytics should match the key business objectives by which agent performance is evaluated. For example, if agents are evaluated by their sales numbers, a business might employ analytics that can predict buying behaviors so agents can recommend relevant products and offers. Or if the priority is creating an exceptional customer experience, there are analytics that can match agents with customers based on customer preferences and behaviors.

5. Auto Escalation

Fraud, repeat callers, platinum customers, and previously-escalated calls are all occurrences that warrant supervisor assistance. However, it can be difficult for agents (especially inexperienced ones) to understand when escalation is necessary. This is a common issue in an industry where entry-level turnover is around twenty-seven percent. Automatic escalations remove agent discretion from the equation, ensuring that contact center supervisors receive real-time alerts whenever an incoming call meets the criteria for escalation. Making agents feel supported in these instances is crucial to retention with auto escalations, agents can rest assured that their supervisor will assist if necessary. These interactions serve as ongoing training opportunities that can greatly reduce agent job dissatisfaction.

6. Artificial Intelligence

The optimal customer experience is a moving target, and service operations must undergo frequent adjustments. Artificial intelligence (AI) could help customer service operations stay on top of the latest support trends because it uses machine learning to constantly improve its knowledge based on previous outcomes; the more it learns, the more accurate it is. It could be a powerful resource for improving agent efficiency and engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • AI could learn the best solutions to various support issues, then rank the solutions by effectiveness. When a customer calls, the AI could suggest relevant solutions to the problem beginning with the most effective. As the agent assists the customer, the AI could update its recommendations in real-time according to the nature of the call and its success.
  • Agents can take more of an advisory role, handling the engaging and complicated interactions while chatbots and AI handle simpler service requests.
  • AI can supplement agent interpersonal skills by detecting a person’s emotional state then delivering a prognosis for the interaction in real-time. The agent can use that insight to steer the conversation in a more lighthearted direction while maintaining the integrity of the call.

AI is still in its infancy, but businesses that have integrated it into their service environments are seeing increases in agent engagement.

With these six tools in their belt, your customer service agents will have everything they need to continue providing exceptional service to your customers. By partnering with Aceyus, you have the power to include these things into one data dashboard. Designed with your unique needs in mind, your agents and your overall contact center will continue driving success.

Aceyus contact center intelligence solutions harness the power of customer data to drive better service engagements that advance the customer and agent experience.

This blog was originally published on April 30, 2018, and has been updated for clarity and context.

Ben Vesta

Ben Vesta

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