That is , the people behind the phone , behind the emails , and behind the direct messages , who are tasked with providing top-of-the-line experiences for customers .
With the number of channels brands are now expected to offer , it can be overwhelming for agents to manage all interactions effectively .
They have more screens and platforms to learn , monitor , and navigate , and they are expected to capture more information from every interaction , so organizations can have a holistic understanding of the customer journey . But it can feel like agents are being tasked with the impossible .
From a technology perspective , it can seem like leaders are helping . Managers are providing great tools and tips , enabling agents to receive real-time alerts and other notifications . But each one of those is yet another input to manage .
The typical agent has a handful of screens open at any time . And while they may be sitting in front of a goldmine of insightful data , it is easy to miss these signals .
Agents miss the signals because they are stressed with juggling too much , and it can fog their view of the information most helpful for the business . Notably , the increasing number of channels agents need to manage also means a customer is behind each one , waiting to engage .
This is the definition of complexity , and it introduces room for error . Neither of which companies can afford in a successful business .
Reducing complexity for agents should be the goal . We need to consolidate screens and give CX agents a single pane of glass to work from .
This requires aggregating points of entry and associated data and offering everything up on one screen , in a way that makes sense so agents can answer questions and solve complex problems quickly .
This is how we reduce agent stress , and how we improve the CX and journey .
THREE GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR IMPROVEMENTS
Prioritizing the CX – and supporting agents – starts with leaders who are willing to show up . It is that straightforward .
Showing up , however , can mean a variety of things . Those who follow these three guiding principles – who pay attention , embrace technology , and create environments of continuous learning – can create positive change within their contact centers , for their agents and ultimately for their customers .
1 . LEAN IN AND PAY ATTENTION
Contact center supervisors and managers – and their managers – should take time to truly understand what agents are dealing with . To see the screens they toggle between , the types of information they listen for , how they capture it , and so on .
Understanding how the software works is one thing but understanding how the software and agents work together is another . The leader who takes the time to see how agents are working will immediately understand the complexity and what needs to change .
So , lean in , pay attention , listen , and learn . At the end of the day , agents are the ones interacting with customers ; they ’ re the first and the last touchpoints , so understanding their world will lead to taking better care of them , which leads to taking better care of customers .
2 . ADOPT THE RIGHT TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY
Give the workforce the tools they need to alleviate stress . Our research
found that 96 % of contact center agents are stressed out to a high degree at least once a week , and nearly 40 % of agents say that “ lack of tools ” is the most common reason they are unable to solve a customer ’ s problem .
This is unacceptable . Leaders need to provide the appropriate technology platforms and solutions to better support agents , to reduce or eliminate stressors , and to enable them to drive better customer interactions .
Think of the customers who show up angry , frustrated , and stressed out be-
cause they were accidentally dropped on a different channel . They then direct those negative feelings at the agents .
It ’ s a lot for agents to take on . But when we create elegant , seamless experiences for them to handle interactions with confidence and ease , both parties benefit .
For example , when dashboards are consolidated , it reduces the number of screens and the number of interactions per screen for the agent , which helps to reduce stress . Self-service scheduling applications for the agent also help by enabling more flexibility and control over their working time and priorities .
These small changes can make a big impact .
3 . CREATE A FEEDBACK LOOP
Leaders need to adequately train their workforce and create an environment of continuous learning and growth .
This requires implementing a feedback loop — one that captures data on the employee experience and helps identify challenges and opportunities for each individual . Leaders must then act on these insights and regularly check in with employees to review and discuss the learnings .
People inherently want to feel supported and valued , and they want to learn and grow . The leaders who pay attention and catch patterns early – both the good and bad – are better set up to help create the best paths forward for everyone .
When leaders follow these principles , they can reduce the complexity felt across the contact center : and in today ’ s often-overwhelming world , maintaining a semblance of simplicity despite unavoidable complexity is critical .
It is time to look forward and have a hand in creating the future of the contact center and the future of customer service , and it all starts with creating brighter futures for agents .
Tom Goodmanson is the president and CEO of Calabrio
, the global customer experience intelligence company that builds software to enrich human interactions . Since 2008 , Tom has led Calabrio ’ s vision , culture and growth to 700 employees today , helping more than 6,000 customers around the world engage with and understand their customers .
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