This is my third blog post on contact service solutions this month. This blog series has been designed to help our readers understand and create “smarter customer interactions” including recommendations on customer experience technology solutions. This week, I want to share insights and tips on how to improve customer experiences through the creation of strong agent workspaces.
As Andrew Harrison notes in his blog post on building customer loyalty through contact centers, a well-trained agent can be a make-or-break touch point in the customer lifecycle. Creating a smart agent workspace can be one of the best investments you make when it comes to customer experiences. And that doesn’t simply mean hiring strong agents. We can take the experience many steps further once the customer is connected to an agent via chat, email, social or voice.
Create a Smarter Agent Workspace
So what is the first step? It is to create one single solution for support agents to use. Most customer support programs require agents to access more than one system to solve the customers’ problem, such as order management systems or any other source customer database. Once you are in an environment where agents have to log in and launch multiple systems to handle an incident, you have instantly increased the time it takes for the agent to help the customer. If these systems require the agent to re-enter the same data you have also decreased the integrity of your customer data as a whole, due to manual errors that occur when reentering data into multiple systems.
Knowing that most programs will require multiple systems, there are a few easy steps you can take to simplify the process:
- Implement a single sign-on strategy. Give the agent one login for all the systems they need to access to immediately reduce training issues and interaction time.
- Expose those external systems into the CRM. Using browser controls you can launch external systems inside the CRM, allowing agents to work out of one system to reduce handle time and decrease redundant data entry. This saves money and improves data integrity.
- Make sure to design your workspace to keep relevant customer data on display throughout the interaction. Customers are most satisfied when the agent is able to concentrate on the interaction and not struggle with the systems. Handling an issue quickly and on the first call improves your customer satisfaction score. Dock key data points for viewing at all times. Exposing relevant customer data to the agent at call arrival and enabling the agent to see the entire customer picture on one screen increases their ability to resolve the customers’ issues quickly and during the first interaction.
Putting Our Tips Into Practice
Let me walk you through a real world program that required us to implement all of the best practices I just described. Harte Hanks was helping a large entertainment provider launch a new subscription service that allowed viewers to watch their programming via online streaming. The support had to cover phone, email, chat and social channels, as well as subscriptions, billing and technical support. Harte Hanks had to launch a support system less than 30 days prior to the first major online event, and we had to make sure our solution and agents could handle a peak of up to 240,000 calls per hour. No big deal, right?
We quickly implemented Oracle Service Cloud, our preferred solution and a great platform to use as a foundation. Then, we trained agents to handle the interactions as quickly as possible to address the massive amounts of call volume. To do this, we loaded the Service Cloud with ongoing data from all of the streaming service customers to ensure our agents had access to information on any customer that contacted us. We immediately applied CTI functionality that would automatically bring up the customer’s record and history when a call was connected to the agents. This reduced the amount of time agents spent searching for customers in the system. We had to make the work flow fast to handle the volume.
Next, we set out to find ways to reduce the expected volume. We wanted to deflect calls while still keeping the customers satisfied. Using the customer portal, we designed an easy-to-use customer support site that allowed customers to find the answers to their questions quickly and easily. We published the “Contact Us” information inside the support site to drive customers to the site before reaching out for live support. Then we integrated our IVR to offer up automated services such as “Forgot Password,” allowing us to identify the subscriber while in the IVR and see if they had not logged into the service recently. If it had been a while since they last logged in, the team assumed they may have forgotten their password and offered an option to reset it from the IVR.
These technologies allowed us to reduce the volume, but what else could we do? Using our call and screen recording solution, we were able to evaluate how the call flows changed over the course of the program. We noticed that data elements we had placed on tabs inside the workspace were now relevant earlier in the interaction. So we redesigned the workspace to match the new flow, keeping not only the customer data but also the device information docked and visible to the agent at all times on the workspace.
Lessons learned? As programs evolve, technology should as well. Watch how your agents are using your solutions and make adjustments that will continuously improve the quality of your programs. If you invest in a great customer support site, use the insights from that site and apply key integrations and technologies to the agent workspace.
We’ve covered a lot these past few weeks in regards to improving customer experiences and satisfaction through the contact center. Using the technology solutions that I’ve outlined will help get you on well on your way to creating smarter customer interactions.
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