Modern contact centres agents have access to an increasing array of technology to help them to perform better. But technology will only take the agent so far. They will also need a number of special qualities to ensure that every interaction exceeds customer expectations. Below I have listed my top three qualities that I think agents need to make the best use of technology to create engaged and loyal customers.
Ability to self-evaluate performance and drive improvement The increasing use of speech and customer engagement analytics technology in contact centres now allows agents to not only resolve customer queries quicker but also helps them to improve their own performance. A modern agent should have the capability to use the available tools to self-evaluate and push themselves to get better. This is why it is important to measure 100 percent of their customer interactions and provide them with personal scorecards. It gives them the information they need to focus on improving in areas that will deliver better customer and business outcomes. An agent should be able to interpret this data and then decide where he or she needs to focus to improve their performance. They then need to be able to measure the change in themselves by reviewing their scorecard at the end of the next shift. This type of agent is open to feedback and motivated to learn and improve because they know they can trust in this data as it is based on all of their interactions with customers.
Being able to handle multi-skilled tasks In the past agents may have been focused on carrying out the same task. Modern call centre agents need to be more flexible. They need to be able to handle a range of tasks and be effective at each of them. Tasks could include: closing sales; problem resolution; collections; customer retention; converting calls triggered by marketing campaigns and, upselling. Skills could include: the ability to recognise churn or dissatisfaction language and rescue the call; being able to switch to a different channel depending on the interaction volumes and, being able to show empathy.
By using analytics technology to identify such multi-skilled agents, companies are able to address customer needs better by ensuring that the right agents with the right skills are scheduled to be available at the right time. Armed with this information, supervisors can manage and schedule their agents more effectively. They can also identify with greater certainty which agents have the skills to handle various channels of communications - and then schedule them accordingly. For example, a supervisor having access to the full customer engagement analytics data - including call acoustics - could find out that although an agent has the right skills to resolve a specific problem via email or chat, he/she may not perform as well with the same problem over the phone.
Being able to deliver customer outcomes rather than KPIs Agents used to be evaluated by their ability to achieve transactional KPIs such as keeping call lengths short. Modern call centre agents need to have a different attitude which is focused on delivering successful call outcomes for customers. For example, they should be able to think independently and decide whether departing from the script will lead to a better call outcome and avoid customer dissatisfaction. Characteristics such as showing empathy or politeness are still important these days, where delivering an excellent customer experience is paramount. Making sure that customers leave the call happy is an essential quality of a modern agent. It will help to drive loyalty and increase lifetime customer value.
So, that’s my top three. Do you agree, or are there others that should rank more highly?