October 21, 2011
There is an explosion of customer service products and services, and companies are turning to customer service as a way to differentiate themselves: 90% of customer service decision-makers tell Forrester that a good service experience is critical to their company's success, and 63% think the importance of the customer service experience has risen.
But we know that businesses must be pragmatic in choosing initiatives that will help deliver service in line with customer expectations, and at a cost that makes sense to the business.
Companies are looking at many ways to move the needle on customer service by leveraging the power of social media, mobile, and new cloud-based deployment methods. However, I hear few companies talking about what they are doing to optimize the customer service agent’s experience so that he can deliver better service to his customers.
Today, customer service agents use tens, if not hundreds, of disconnected systems to address a customer’s request. Have a look at the example of a desktop that Jacada gave me — lots of apps, and even some green-screen apps!
Agents do not always follow the same discovery path through these disconnected systems, leading to variable handle times and inconsistent experiences. There is no way for managers to ensure that agents are complying to company policy or to regulations. Knowledge exists as an island of its own, disconnected from the rest of the customer service ecosystem, and sometimes duplicated for each communication channel that the company supports, which leads to inconsistent answers that are sometimes just plain wrong. In addition, agents don’t have access to a consolidated view of customer’s purchase history or prior interactions, so cannot personalize the conversation to the customer.
What does a good agent experience do? It allows a company to:
- Increase the contact center’s productivity and consistency.
- Contextualize knowledge so that it can be tailored to a customer and interaction.
- Minimize agent training time.
- Reduce agent turnover.
But most importantly, it allows the customer service agent to focus on the customer instead of struggling with the tool set, which allows the agent to listen to and serve the customer better. Have a look at the four case studies that prove this point.
We know that a good customer experience is good for business and can quantifiably impact the number of cross-sells, upsells, recommendations, and customer retention. But few companies — only 32% — see improving the experience of interacting with a call center agent as one of their top company goals. Why is it that so few companies are invested in improving their agent tool set to gain a real ROI?