Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Empower Agents to Do Their Jobs

September 20, 2016

Today, successful customer engagement is critical to a company’s success. Customers place more importance than ever on the customer experience, and it influences whether customers stay or defect to competition. (And tell all their friends on social media about their decision.) The estimates vary, but research groups believe that bad customer service leads to American companies losing billions each year.

Most organizations have some type of program designed to improve customer engagement. Unfortunately, many companies aren’t building their customer engagement programs on the right foundations. Before customer engagement can be achieved, companies need to get employee engagement right first. In customer support, the chain is truly only as strong as its weakest link, and disgruntled, disinterested agents can ruin valuable customer relationships in less than five minutes.

“When employees feel confident, at ease and empowered to do their job, they will ultimately perform better,” wrote Aspect’s (News - Alert) Chris O’Brien in a recent blog post.

While good managers and a pleasant working environment are important for keeping employees engaged, there is also evidence that ensuring that agents have the right tools is also critical to maintaining positive attitudes. In too many contact centers, agents are having to “make do” with outdated technology, overly cluttered desktops, poorly integrated communications channels and disparate knowledge bases.

“It may seem like common sense, but drilling down into the specific costs and benefits associated with state-of-the-art agent tools, vs. the current status quo, reveals some significant financial considerations,” wrote O’Brien. “In an online survey conducted by Pelorus Associates, we found a consistently strong belief among contact center managers and directors that better tools would result in better agent performance.”

In the Aspect Agent Experience Study, the highlights of which are presented in this infographic, 40 percent of contact center executives stated that their existing software tools for agents are fair at best. Directors and managers overwhelmingly agreed that a better software user interface can improve agent performance. Specifically,

  • Eighty-three (83) percent of executives said that a better user interface can reduce handle time;
  • Seventy-four (74) percent said a better UI can reduce error rates;
  • Seventy-four (74) percent said a good UI can improve the customer experience; and
  • Seventy (70) percent said that improving the UI would lead to better agent effectiveness.

Keeping existing customers happy is the key to success. A study by Gartner (News - Alert) revealed that 65 percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and that it typically costs about five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied. To keep your existing customers happy (and hopefully win new ones), companies need to first look to keeping their agents happy, and this means providing them with the right tools to streamline their tasks, retrieve information quickly and personalize the customer experience.

“If better desktop tools can help make a difference in keeping your current 65 percent happy, maybe it’s an investment worth exploring,” said O’Brien.

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