Customer service agents are indisputably key to the success of a company. They are the voice of the brand and being on the front line, they have a huge impact on every stage of the customer journey. By the end of 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
Despite the recent movements by many organizations to better appreciate their value and improve their work life, the average agent turnover stands at 30-45%, compared to an employee average of 12-15%.
The reasons for this are of course varied and specific to each business. But whatever your agent turnover is, this guide will help you understand the top six reasons why your agents may not be feeling 100% content in their role – and more importantly, how you can solve these issues with an omnichannel customer service platform. Because after all, a better agent experience will lead to a better customer experience.
“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” – Richard Branson
“Conversations across our digital channels aren’t connected so it’s difficult and time-consuming to get the full context behind the customer’s issue.”
For many customer service teams, communication channels aren’t connected with one another. Each channel is managed within its own app or platform and they sit in individual siloes. This causes a huge problem for agents and customers alike.
Today’s digital-first customer not only likes to use a variety of channels – they want to change channels as and when it suits them. For example, a customer could send an email, but then decide to reach out via live chat for a faster response. When the email and live chat systems aren’t connected, the live chat agent doesn’t have complete knowledge of the customer’s issue as it was explained by email.
As a result, the agent will have to hunt within the email platform to find the relevant information (which they may not even have access to). Or worse, they will have to ask the customer to repeat themselves – frustrating for the customer and inefficient use of time for the agent.
Omnichannel customer engagement connects every digital channel together within one unified platform, whether that be live chat, email, SMS or social media. This means that every conversation is funneled into one console so whatever channel the customer reaches out on, the agent has full visibility into their complete conversation history.
With all this information at their fingertips, the agent no longer needs to constantly jump between platforms to search for information from different channels. As well as creating a better agent experience, it also decreases time-to-resolution.
“It can be difficult to provide the customer with the most helpful support because I don’t know anything about them or their history with us.”
Agents want to provide the best support they can. Their goal is to resolve every issue as smoothly and helpfully as possible. For a simple query, this can often be achieved with little information about the customer.
However, for more complex issues, a lack of information about the customer can be the roadblock between OK support, and excellent support – and even closing a sale. It also makes developing a personal connection with the customer far more challenging.
We already demonstrated how an omnichannel platform provides agents with the full conversation history across channels. But that’s just the beginning. By integrating with your customer relationship management (CRM) system, the customer’s detailed profile sits right alongside the chat window in the agent console, providing critical context to personalize the customer experience. This data can include purchase history, web page visits, demographic data, and much more.
When the agent learns new information about the customer, they can easily add and update the customer profile without having to leave the chat system and this automatically synchronizes to your CRM.
“It often takes too much time to find the information to best answer the customer’s query, if I can find it at all.”
Every day, the typical agent faces tens, if not hundreds, of different questions. Naturally, agents will rely on a bank of internal resources to refer to when they don’t know the answer.
However, searching for the right answer is neither fast or simple. They may not even be able to find what they need and must bother colleagues for help (who are invariably busy or don’t know the answer either!). This is an incredibly irritating experience for the agent, and ultimately will result in slower response times and damaged customer experiences. Next to boredom (see #6), it may be the single largest source of agent churn.
1. Agent Assist: When a visitor asks a question, AI-powered Agent Assist automatically provides the best answer to the agent so they don’t waste time looking for it. Agents can also flag questions for which no resources exist, helping you quickly close knowledge gaps.
2. Knowledge Base: An intelligent omnichannel knowledge base allows you to centralize all your knowledge resources into an accessible platform within the agent console, website, and mobile app so agents can easily find all the information they need to provide quick responses.
“I often receive a query that I’m not suited to answer and have to transfer the customer to another colleague. It’s frustrating, a bad use of my time and irritates the customer.”
It’s not only customers who hate being transferred from one agent to another – agents hate it too. For many customer service teams, queries are automatically routed to an agent before knowing what the issue is. As a result, once the customer has explained their query, the agent discovers they can’t answer their question and must pass them on to another colleague.
The best way to solve this is through intelligent routing. This allows you to automatically connect customers to the right agent at the right time by setting up custom rules including channel, product, region, webpage visits, agent skillset, pre-chat surveys, and much more.
By connecting every chat with the right agent, transfers between agents become almost non-existent as the best agent is always put on the job from the get-go. The result: quicker resolution times, more productive agents, and happier customers.
“I don’t know how to prioritize incoming queries and tickets. It’s difficult to understand how I should manage my time.”
Many agents, particularly those with heavy workloads, struggle to know how best to prioritize their time and effort. Do I focus on the incoming live chat queries? Or what about the email tickets that need resolving? And how do I decide which query should be dealt with first? Knowing where to concentrate their time is difficult, and even stressful.
An intelligent omnichannel platform effectively solves this issue with:
1. Service level agreements (SLAs): SLAs typically track response and resolution times, but you can also set conditions based on channel, priority, and department to reflect the commitment to your customers. You can attach visual cues to SLAs so agents know which inquiries need attention first.
2. CRM integration and tagging: Every company has VIP customers who should receive priority attention. By integrating your omnichannel platform with your customer database (typically your CRM system), you can alert your agents when a VIP sends a message or even visits the site to make sure they get the white glove treatment.
“Much of my day is spent answering the same boring, easy-to-answer questions.”
For most customer support teams, many (if not most) incoming questions will be repetitive and straightforward. They won’t take a lot of time to resolve, but they are plentiful. If you apply the Pareto Principle, commonly known as ‘The 80/20 Rule’, to customer service queries, 80% of your customers ask about the same 20% of your total queries.
For many agents, answering the same question again and again is mundane, tiring, and downright boring.
As mentioned in Complaint #3, Agent Assist is a very effective AI-powered tool to help agents deal with repetitive queries by automatically providing the answer.
If you really want to take this a step further, AI chatbots are essential. By setting up a chatbot, a large portion of frontline customer care can be automated. This means agents no longer have to deal with the repetitive queries, and in the process, are free to focus on more complex queries and important customers.
And chatbots don’t only have to be on live chat. Omnichannel bots can work across social media and SMS too.