How to create a better agent and customer experience

Create Better Agent and Customer Experiences [CRMXchange Demo Wrap-Up]

Last week we talked on issues troubling your contact center, like stuck CSAT scores and sky-high agent turnover. Turnover so high, in fact, that some teams throw pizza parties when it dips into the 30-percent range versus the alarming near-50 percent range most contact centers see today. We partnered with CRMXchange to discuss these issues and how Sharpen offers an avenue to fix them through better agent and customer experiences. We spent an hour shelling out the most intimate details about our product, and how it helps our customers create workplaces that make life better for their agents and their customers.

The Contact Center Space Has Some Persisting Problems.

We know that mid-range CSAT scores and a consistently high contact center turnover rate are issues company leaders can’t seem to escape. The real problem is, though, that rather than discover a new approach to these persisting problems, they’ve just been deemed as the status quo for working in a contact center. It’s chalked up to the sentiment that customers will always be frustrated and partially dissatisfied. And agents will always loathe their jobs and leave in six months. But in reality, there’s nothing normal about sub-par customer satisfaction and such high turnover. And, did we mention the pizza parties? We weren’t joking about people celebrating turnover (that’s still too high) just because it finally dips a bit lower than “normal.”

“Agent turnover at an average is at 45 percent year-over-year. We’ve seen it significantly higher than that, and we’ve also seen teams throw pizza parties when it’s in the mid-30s. So, we know that this is something contact centers are really struggling with.” – Adam Settle, VP of Sharpen University

These are problems that are just too important, and too expensive, to let slide by. So, we decided to scrap the status quo and get down to the root of these issues: your agents’ satisfaction. Sharpen is a platform built to make agents’ lives easier, first. Because when your agents have a better experience, your customers do too.

What’s the agent experience all about?

When we talk about agent experience, we’re really boiling the holistic experience of your agents down to three specific and measurable components. Those are: efficiency, like how timely, how resourceful, and how productive your agents are. Effectiveness, where soft skills and agent competency come into play to benefit your customers. And lastly, their empowerment, looking at things like how valuable an agent feels to your organization, how they fit into their team, and how supported they are.

These key components lump together to define your agents’ well-being. They give you indicators about what areas of their experience are top-notch and what might need a boost. Digging into the measurement of these three components gives you insight about your agents’ feelings and events outside of work, too. Things like lack of sleep and home stressors might impact an agent’s pace and efficiency. Or, you might discover a lack of empowerment because the agent doesn’t feel like they fit in with their team. An agent can be incredibly efficient and effective, but if they don’t feel like they’re part of a winning team and they don’t feel supported, their overall experience will plummet. And a positive experience for your agents largely determines the experience they’ll hand off to your customers.

“We know that technology on its own cannot deliver a great customer experience. We believe the agents are what deliver a great customer experience.” – Don Stewart, Director of Platform Enablement (and former contact center agent).

Technology acts as a tool to help your agents deliver positive customer experiences, but your agents themselves are in the driver seat of your customers’ service experience.

Channels that use data and work together let agents help customers with ease.

A truly omni-channel platform gives your agents the customer data and ease-of-use they need to give customers a frictionless experience. There’s tons of buzz about omni-channel, and plenty of solutions claim to be omni-channel. But if your channels don’t inherently work together to share information, and if your agents can’t switch channels mid-interaction without disrupting their process, then your solution isn’t omni-channel. It’s just multi-channel.

Agents need customer data served up with a side of easy inside their queue. When an agent clicks on an interaction in their queue, they should be able to see who the customer is, when they last reached out for help and a complete history of how the customer interacts with the company. Do they use web chat to get help, or do they pick up the phone to call in? How frequently do they call in, and do they abandon calls? Your agents get all the context they need to quickly and accurately deliver answers.

Plus, having a stockpile of information on past interactions, agents learn about the customers’ tendencies to inform their customer approach. If they’re dealing with a customer who often abandons calls, your agent will know the customer is likely impatient and quick problem-solving is of the essence.

The added value of an omni-channel customer experience is the ability to switch channels mid-interaction.

Sharpen lets agents click a button to toggle between channels and interact with customers differently based on their needs. If a customer reaches out by phone with questions about a product warranty, your agent can switch to MMS and ask the customer to send a picture of the warranty right then and there. The customer will get a text from the Sharpen agent, respond by snapping a picture of the warranty, then continue to chat with the agent about next steps over the phone.

In one instance, one of our customers cut one of their processes down from three-and-a-half weeks to 45 minutes because of the platform’s omni-channel experience. Before Sharpen, agents had to kick off interactions digitally, then finish up with direct-mail to cover warranties and product returns. But, with the MMS capabilities in Sharpen, the company eliminated the need to continue the direct-mail piece of their process. That resulted in agents with major cause to celebrate (jumping out of their seats for high-fives) after their first time putting it to the test.

“I think we can all agree that if you had your agents standing up and high-fiving each other after an interaction because they were so excited about how smooth it went, we would all be pretty happy about that. So, it was really cool to see that happen with one of our customers.” – Adam Settle.

Deep insights give you actionable data to coach your agents.

An agent’s success largely depends on the support and development they get from their manager. But supervisors only spend about 7 percent of their time coaching and developing agents in a given week. The rest of their time is sucked up by escalations and digging for meaningful coaching opportunities.

You, as a manager, need actionable, digestible data that will actually help you coach your agents.

“The data that you have is only as good as what you’re able to do with it.” – Adam Settle

Since all your agent-customer interactions happen in one, centralized location and all your systems work with Sharpen to share customer information, you get distilled insights about every step of your customer journey and your agent experience.

And all that powerful data isn’t floating around in thousands of cells and dozens of spreadsheets. We aggregate data based on criteria you choose. Then we merge that data into colorful dashboards with your most important metrics highlighted at a glance. You can surface the information you want to see quickly. And, you can build dashboards for different sets of metrics, so you can identify important correlations and see how certain metrics match up and impact each other.

For instance, we have an agent experience dashboard that lets you see an entire snapshot of your team’s experience. It pulls in metrics related to your agent’s three E’s of experience. You can see where your agents are thriving and where you need to dig in to adjust your coaching. At a glance, you see agent effectiveness is high, but efficiency is low. So, you peer into your efficiency metrics. You notice talk time is high, but you know your agents still get the right end results for your customers. That means your agents have the information they need, but it takes them a touch too long to access it. So, you look at processes and systems you have in place. Then, you change things up to help your agents become more efficient.

Bots can sort and filter information for you, so you have quick and easy access to meaningful coaching opportunities.

Now, take all that actionable data at your fingertips, and get your army of bots to analyze it for you. Sharpen uses A.I. to power bots that filter and search data for you. So, you get even more time back and even more meaningful coaching moments.

You can set rules to monitor your interactions for certain words, sentiment, or length. So, for example, you can set an alert for the word cancel. With this rule in place, any time a customer says the word cancel during an interaction, that specific interaction will show up in your manager’s queue for review. Or, let’s say you want to touch on the metrics you noticed need some help in your agent experience dashboard. You want to address the efficiency issues on your team, so you set a rule to send any agent-customer interaction that extends past 15 minutes to your coaching queue for review. Then, you have high-impact coaching moments waiting for you, so you can automatically dive into the interactions that are affecting your efficiency metrics. You’re alerted right after the call instead of waiting for your brief window of downtime or your weekly reports. Now, you can address issues on-the-spot and help your agents get back on track.

Automation takes the guessing game out of coaching. When you pick calls at random to review, you don’t necessarily know that you’re choosing a valuable interaction. The one you choose might not be one that needs developmental feedback. Even when you have a set of criteria to ID the interactions you choose, you’re still picking from a random chunk of interactions hoping to find value. The power to disposition based on keywords or certain metrics is where all the time-savings comes in.

Key takeaway for contact center leaders:

Your success as a coach and a manager boils down to data-driven leadership. As a supervisor, you can’t manage to something you don’t measure. And for 20-some years, most contact centers have been measuring the wrong inputs and addressing the wrong outcomes. Take a hard look at what you are measuring and how it relates to your agent.

Shake up the norm in your contact center, and dive into agent-specific metrics. That’s when you’ll really get a beat on what’s happening with your agents. And, how you can coach to impact THEM. When you consistently work to make your agents jobs and lives better, they’ll do the same for your customers.

Learn how you can shift your contact center strategy to create better agent and customer experiences. Hear from Adam and Don and get a peek inside our agent-first platform in action, here! Or get in touch with us for a complete look at Sharpen for your contact center.