Featured Image for the blog: Empower Your Agents to Deliver Better Customer Service

Treat your agents the way you want them to treat your customers.

Last week Renee called your customer service line and spoke to one of your agents. She couldn’t access her online account, so she needed your team to get her back up and running.

Renee tried to solve the problem on her own, first, but after five tries she locked herself out of her account. Her only option was to reach out for help. Even though she needed help, she still hesitated before she picked up the phone. Why? Because her last service interaction took an hour. And even after dedicating a full hour to a resolution, she still finds herself stuck with a persisting problem.

This time when she picks up the phone, she has one goal in mind. To find a lasting solution for her problem with minimal time and effort on her end.

But to deliver that minimal-effort customer service in a speedy window of time, what do your agents need?

The right technology and processes are important to drive your agents’ efficiency and effectiveness.

But building and sustaining that efficiency and effectiveness relies on fostering the right attitude with your team. Your agents thrive when you create a collaborative community where proactive support and being a resource for your team is the norm.

Your better customer service comes with empowered agents, not just a team who checks the efficiency and effectiveness boxes.

How do you deliver better service and empower agents?

Start by thinking about what makes a better customer experience. Specifically, what do your customers want, and what do they ask for. Look beyond what you’re already delivering. Think bigger. To really understand how your customer, want to be treated, you need genuine curiosity and the will to listen. Without that authenticity, your customer focus exists in words only.

Next up, understand the connection between your customer experience and your agent experience. To deliver on that big experience you thought up, your improvements have to start with your agents.

We’ve identified three truths about your agent and customer experiences, so you can reshape and improve both journeys.

#1: A great journey has minimal friction.

For agents, this means having the right tools, resources, and the right amount of autonomy to make decisions. Your agents struggle when they have to run to a supervisor during every customer interaction. In fact, research shows that less autonomy on the job actually heightens stress levels.

Surprisingly, people in leadership positions have lower stress levels than those on the front lines, and it’s directly attributed to the amount of control they have in their roles. And, that heightened stress from lack of autonomy transfers over to your customers.

When you give agents better technology, streamlined processes, and the trust they need to make decisions in a pinch, their experience improves. As a result, your customers’ experience improves, too.

#2: A great journey is consistent, no matter the channel or issue.

Amending your processes for the better is about removing friction. Work to streamline the way your agents work, so you can create a consistent journey across all channels. Use an omnichannel contact platform to simplify all your interactions down to a single queue.

A consistent journey sets expectations for your customers and agents, so they can accurately predict the time and effort they need to dedicate to each interaction.

Tools that integrate with all your systems to share customer data can help agents connect the dots of a customer’s overarching journey. No interaction should occur in a vacuum. And understanding a customer’s previous touchpoints helps your agent see each customer’s relationship and history with your company. Then, they can communicate in a way that works for your customer and have knowledge on hand to inform every conversation.

#3: Better customer service should be adaptable and personalized.

No two customers are alike.

And the same goes for agents. To treat your agents the way you want them to treat customers, you have to understand and coach them as individuals.

Ask yourself a few questions to get a pulse on how you can improve your agents’ experience. Here are five questions we like to ask to kick off the conversation.

  1. Where do agents feel friction when they try to understand and resolve customer issues?
  2. How consistent are my agents’ journeys when dealing with different types of issues and different communication channels?
  3. How personalized is my overall agent experience to the individuals on my team?
  4. Do I take agents’ personalities and preferences into account when establishing responsibilities?
  5. How about when you’re setting goals and providing feedback?

As you dive in and discover how each of your agents feel about their experience, be sure you keep their personalities and strengths in mind. If their current journey doesn’t align with those two key factors, readjust to play to their strengths and better suit their personalities.

They’ll be happier in their roles and sure to deliver better, more personalized experiences to your customers.

Here are 13 more reasons why agents success matters to your customers.

We originally posted this article on July 2, 2018. We updated it for accuracy and tone on February 21, 2019.