Your customer service agents are a critical component of your brand. These trained professionals address the needs and challenges of customers all day, every day. They offer a direct and highly personal line of communication between your brand and the people you serve. When your people create positive customer experiences with customers,it generates differentiation and loyalty. But to ensure your team delivers excellent experiences consistently, you need to proactively create a better agent experience for your contact center workforce. Successful customer relations start with happy and engaged contact center agent teams.
A Challenging Role
Customer support team members are drawn to the field out of an interest in interacting with and helping people address their customer queries and problems. Many draw great energy and satisfaction from turning a frustrated customer into a satisfied person. But make no mistake — customer support is a very challenging role. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
Many customers call and direct their frustration at the agent – blaming them for matters that are sometimes out of their control. While good agents view that anger as a challenge to overcome, it can be emotionally draining to deal with riled people all day.
Further, many of the calls they receive are for straightforward tasks where they can add little more value than reading off a number or directing them to a web page. These mundane interactions make their jobs boring and highly repetitive.
Some customers and potential buyers have a great deal of difficulty explaining what they are trying to do or may be unfamiliar with the terminology of the business. This can be a significant source of stress when coupled with a demand for more calls completed per hour.
Technology gaps like poor VOIP connections or outdated contact center software can make the job harder than it needs to be. The customer care experience is impeded by technology challenges outside the control of the customer care agent.
There’s nothing new about the challenges above. But since the advent of COVID-19, many contact centers have experienced substantial inbound calls volume growth, creating additional pressure to resolve issues more rapidly. There are demands for higher agent productivity even as the calls have gotten more challenging to resolve. Increased hold times due to growing call volumes further frustrate callers, making emotional de-escalation more difficult for agents.
Finally, higher agent turnover and recruiting challenges in light of the Great Resignation mean additional pressure on those agents that continue to serve. That pressure can negatively impact agent performance.
Omnichannel Customer Support and Agent Experience
One of the best ways to create a better agent experience is to deploy an omnichannel customer service strategy. Omnichannel customer service refers to ensuring seamless and inviting customer workflows to deliver excellent outcomes with minimal effort. Customer workflows are integrated into BOTH front-end experience and back-end data and infrastructure.
Customers today migrate across a broad range of communication challenges throughout the day. They expect your business to provide powerful tools and experiences across all potential touchpoints when they want to interact with you. The foundation of omnichannel customer experience starts with ensuring that your brand and business are reachable everywhere your customers are. But there’s more to omnichannel success than just that.
Integration is what distinguishes omnichannel support. With omnichannel, experiences look and feel consistent and have common underlying integrations with the relevant back-end systems to empower real-time data exchange. To deliver maximum value, they must provide a seamless digital experience in every relevant customer touchpoint. They must also be fully integrated with all pertinent platforms of your tech stack so that you can deliver more personalized experiences and maintain up-to-date data across your organization.
Two of the most common forms of omnichannel customer support are conversational AI chatbots and digital self-service micro-apps. Both function across multiple channels, including websites, customer portals, social media, full-featured mobile apps, visual IVR, contact center engagements, and in-person interactions.
Automated chat applications can be powerful tools for omnichannel customer service because they are not channel-dependent. They provide virtually effortless customer interaction. The chatbot app uses conversational AI and natural language processing to provide the desired information. There is little or no learning curve to using one.
Micro-apps are simple applications developed to meet a single need or use case. Micro-apps can be designed for a comprehensive range of customer needs. Some examples include customer onboarding, checking one’s account balance, making a payment, checking the status of an account or insurance claim, updating personal information/customer data, digital forms like insurance first notice of loss, and change of account ownership.
How Omnichannel Customer Service Creates Better Agent Experience
There are many ways that implementing an omnichannel customer experience strategy enables a better agent experience. Omnichannel customer support makes digital experiences available across channels and devices. These self-service options can address the common but low-value customer queries that often account for most inbound contact center traffic.
Digital self-service micro-apps and chatbots can easily be configured to address challenges such as customer onboarding, checking one’s account balance, making a payment, checking the status of an account or insurance claim, updating personal information/customer data, digital forms like insurance first notice of loss, and change of account ownership. By deflecting these questions to simple self-service experiences, you can reduce call volumes so that agents can spend more time assisting high-value customers on complex issues and questions.
Reduced call volumes have many follow-on benefits for agent experience:
Reduced stress: By deflecting these questions to simple self-service experiences, you can reduce call volumes so that agents can spend more time assisting high-value customers on complex issues and questions. Stress has become a major challenge for contact center agents and their employers.
Less customer frustration: Diverting unnecessary calls reduces hold times that make callers angry even before they are connected with an agent. This makes it easier to deliver complete customer satisfaction.
Fewer boring, repetitive interactions: By eliminating many calls for everyday needs, you can reduce agent boredom while ensuring their connected time is spent resolving more complex and engaging challenges. This, in turn, improves agent engagement and enhances support or sales agent efficiency.
Increased job satisfaction: Agents protected by omnichannel customer service experiences can feel a greater sense of belonging and appreciation.
Reduced Need for New Employment: More relaxed and fulfilled employees in contact centers won’t feel the need to change roles as frequently. They also won’t bear the brunt of increased call volumes when attrition increases demands on those who remain with the company. Agent satisfaction pays many dividends.
Time for Training: Contact centers with more reasonable call volumes can give agents training opportunities to improve their skill set and move up to higher levels of support.
Additionally, omnichannel digital self-service experiences can actually be leveraged by agents to address those customers who need support and trust from a live agent interaction. When callers connect with straightforward requests, the agent can send them a link to a digital self-service micro-app or use the app in a co-browsing experience.
Learn More About Delivering Better Experience for Agents
Meeting customer expectations is an essential source of competitive differentiation today. Strong employee engagement and better employee experience are vital to having a fully satisfied client base. Digital customer service tools are a great way to help customers solve more of their own problems and eliminate some of the biggest sources of employee dissatisfaction.
As you pursue an omnichannel customer experience agenda, ensure you have the means to create and deploy great experiences efficiently. The FICX No-Code CX Platform enables you to build, integrate and deploy robust digital self-service micro-apps 10X faster than traditional custom development. Our drag-and-drop interface makes it incredibly easy to develop experiences in just hours. For more information on FICX and omnichannel customer experience, visit our website, request a demo, or explore some of our other articles, which are available below.