Share this content

Want to get your CX right? Look at your agents

22nd Oct 2021
Share this content

More and more brands are becoming customer-obsessed. There is a renewed willingness to invest in a practice long seen as a 'necessary evil'. No longer just a 'nice to have', how you engage and build relationships with your customers has become a true differentiator in the market today.

The flipside to this customer-centricity is that, far too often, brands neglect the needs of agents. And the problem is that they are part of the same puzzle to delivering a top customer experience. Happier humans make better employees, and having the right tools to work with also means better experiences for customers.

Here’s why focusing on agent experience will be a defining part of which brands take off in the next year:

What is the agent experience (AX)?

The agent experience is what it says on the tin. AX is the holistic view of how empowered, efficient and effective your agents are.

This could include everything from how easy it is for your agents to solve customers’ queries, or the quality of their interactions with customers. It could also refer to how valued they feel and supported they are in their day-to-day role.

Happy agents = happy customers

Why is AX so important? Think about it from an agent experience: support teams bear the brunt of customer frustrations on a day-to-day basis and it’s not always the easiest being on the front line. Even with the most satisfied customer base, mistakes can happen, issues arise and productivity can plummet if the problems start to pile.

Fortunately, the reverse can also be true. If most of an agent’s day is spent having efficient conversations where they can problem solve for happy customers, then they will naturally experience higher levels of satisfaction and fulfilment.

We’re not just speaking hypothetically here either; studies have found that customer and employee satisfaction are positively linked, with the relationship between the two not only increasing motivation internally but impacting commercial results positively as well.

Further, when it comes to the role satisfied customers play in profit-building, one could argue that it all starts with individual agents. With the growth of eCommerce and the online world, it’s very possible that the only human-to-human interaction a customer might have with a brand is when they reach out to customer service. In these instances, the agent becomes the face of the brand and has the power to shape a customer’s entire perception of the company and their buying decisions.

Considering that keeping your sales team happy can boost sales by up to 37%, the direct link between happy agents, happy customers and a happy bottom line, is undeniable.

How do you get the agent experience right?

Now that we’ve established that AX is important, how do you get it right? Here are my two key suggestions for customer-loving brands looking to reinvigorate their approach to AX:

1. Empower your agents

When I tell you to empower your agents, I don’t just mean the type of empowerment technology brings through automation, good user experience, having the right information about the customer and so on. Yes, having the right tools and technologies in place is vitally important for ensuring agents are where the customer is, when the customer needs them. However, an often overlooked side to empowering agents is giving them the foundation of tools and trust they need to thrive.

This includes establishing a comprehensive knowledge base where they can find the answer to almost any question. It also means giving your agents autonomy and the power to make their own decisions. Agents who have the power to make decisions on their own deliver better service since they don’t have to ask their manager for approval and this, in turn, reduces the time it takes to resolve an issue. 

2. Provide a clear career pathway

Finally, getting AX right, in my view, means helping agents view the role as more of a career. I think we can all agree that, when we have goals to hit and can see a clear path ahead of us, we enjoy our work more. The challenge with customer service is that it has historically been seen as a 'stepping stone' or a humble career path, not something with longevity.

Acknowledging and addressing this is even more important in today’s 'Great Resignation' climate, where job vacancies are at a 20-year high. For many customer service teams, however, the Great Resignation is nothing new. A recent study found that the average rate of agent turnover for contact centres was 58 percent year over year, with increased workload and a lack of growth and advancement opportunities cited as the top two reasons for attrition.

The bottom line is that poor agent experience can lead to poor job performance, or worse yet, a high turnover rate. And high turnover rate can erode the knowledge bank of a support team and the overall level of customer service that is provided.

Part of the solution to stemming the flow of resignations is implementing some of what I have already discussed. By empowering your agents and providing them with the tools that will improve their experience, they will be a lot happier and enjoy their roles more, helping with employee retention.

But getting AX right also means moving beyond retention. Brands need to provide their agents with opportunities for growth and a clear career path. This could be through providing opportunities to specialize or working more closely with other departments like marketing and operations.

Putting it bluntly: your business doesn’t just need a great customer service team, it relies upon it. By taking some of these steps, your brand will become trailblazers in creating a happy, empowering and productive environment for your agents. 

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.