Each year, the first week of October is set aside to celebrate National Customer Service Week. This gives organizations time to reflect on the role of customer service, as well as recognize the tremendous efforts made by customer service professionals throughout the year. What started as a U.S.-based event over 30 years ago, is now observed by organizations and industries around the world.
At the heart of customer service are the contact center agents. Whether in an office or at home, on digital channels or over the phone, these customer service representatives are a business’ direct link to the customer. They serve as brand ambassadors for products or services and are responsible for providing excellent customer experiences across many different channels.
But working in a contact center is stressful. Customers usually reach out to businesses because of an issue that puts customer service agents under extreme pressure. They are left to balance complex or redundant problems, multiple screens, and upset customers – all while trying to maintain their own performance metrics. As a result, many service agents report feeling burnt out, causing attrition rates to soar. What’s worse, this frustration regularly trickles down to the customer – impacting not only the customer experience, but brand reputation.
Luckily there are several ways businesses can make life easier for their agents. In our recent research report Resolution Revolution, we asked business leaders which customer service challenges cause frustration for customer service professionals within their organizations. In this article, we’ll look at the top five challenges and share how businesses can promote calm in their contact centers by adopting scalable strategies and technologies.
Before diving in, hear firsthand how these strategies have transformed the lives and work of customer service professionals, allowing them to deliver better customer experiences.
1. Prompting customers for information they’ve already supplied on another channel
Repetition is a major friction point in the contact center. In fact, it is the number one frustration for both customers and employees . Customers hate supplying the same information across multiple channels, only to be prompted again when speaking to an agent over the phone. And the feeling is mutual for the agent – prompting the customer again for information they’ve already supplied leads to tense and stressful interactions.
But why does repetition occur? As contact center leaders have set out to provide customer-centric service, they have fallen into the trap of standing up new channels and putting those channels at the center of their strategy. This involves building logic and decisioning into each individual system or channel – leading to silos and limited visibility into customer history. Agents are then forced to toggle between disparate systems and applications searching for information. If they don’t find what they need, they must ask again.
Rather than building logic and decisioning into each individual system or channel, contact centers are rethinking customer service by putting people (their customers and employees) at the heart of their strategy and organizing around the customer journey. This involves building processes around how customers act and what they need as well as delivering on their individual desired outcomes. Better yet, by unifying your customer service applications into a single-agent desktop, agents gain full visibility into each customer’s journey and can carry context across channels. Businesses can eliminate the need for repetition and ultimately resolve issues faster.
2. Manually entering the same information in different places
Repetition doesn’t just exist when working with customers. Customer service representatives are often forced to enter the same information across multiple systems.
Each time a new channel is created, the information becomes more siloed. Because these channels don’t communicate with each other, information cannot flow between them. Agents are forced to navigate multiple screens and applications, leading to repetitive, labor-intensive tasks. This slows down the path to resolution and leads to unhappy agents and customers.
Intelligent automation is a great way to introduce greater efficiency into customer service operations. Multi-dimensional case management can help orchestrate the work from the moment an inquiry is initiated through to resolution – defining each step and stage of the relevant customer journey and carrying the full context of the customer’s need along the way. By centering operations around the customer journey, agents can make a change once and have the change take place across all channels.
3. Passing customers between teams/departments
Agents want to see customer issues resolved quickly. However, siloed applications and a lack of visibility mean they are forced to pass customers between teams and departments when they are unable to assist.
This situation is not ideal for anyone involved: The customer is spending more time and likely having to repeat information, the agent is managing escalating frustrations, and the new teams or departments are entering the engagement with little visibility or historical context. It’s a loss for everyone involved.
Stop manually routing work. Automate work instead. With intelligent automation, businesses can improve efficiency and reduce handoffs. Multi-dimensional case management helps orchestrate the work through to resolution. Paired with attended and unattended robotic process automation, businesses then can deploy bots to do some of the necessary, but tedious work.
4. Lack of historical context on the customer’s past interactions
Has the same customer reached out about this issue or problem multiple times? Are one of those tickets still open? How were their interactions with customer support in the past?
Historical context is crucial for an agent to provide meaningful and excellent customer service. While it sounds simple, agents often struggle to see where their customer has been, who they’ve spoken with and the information they’ve already provided. Many of the frustrations we’ve discussed above result from a lack of context – including repetition and passing customers off between teams.
Unifying customer service applications into a single-agent desktop allows agents to access the information they need to provide top-quality customer service. With a consolidated view that pulls from legacy systems, channels, interaction data, and even service history, your agents can quickly understand each customer’s full context and gain insight into the current interaction.
5. Lack of information about self-service on the website
Before modern-day contact centers existed, customers essentially had two options to receive customer service: go to a physical location or call into a call center. Despite all the advancements in contact options and the addition of numerous channels, the phone continues to be the default for most customers. But why?
While many customers are willing to use self-service options, most don’t expect these options to work. Customers feel businesses are falling short on delivering effective, consistent service experiences across all channels. This perception leads to surges in contact center volume, overworked agents, and increased costs for the business.
To contain and deflect more inquiries, resolve issues faster, and reduce overall costs, businesses can employ contextual self-service. Traditional self-service strategies often rely on product-first approaches, which often fail to contain and resolve in the moment of need. Contextual self-service optimizes all channels to focus on each unique customer journey.
Additionally, with the help of AI, self-service channels can use historical and real-time data as well as recent events to better understand why a customer may be seeking service. This will reduce the agents’ queues and allow them to focus on more complex inquiries.
Celebrating customer service agents
Whether in an office or at home, digitally or over the phone, customer service representatives are a businesses’ direct link to the customer. They are the face of the company, brand ambassadors, and problem solvers. By using scalable strategies and technologies, businesses can eliminate the agent frustrations detailed above and allow agents to focus on delivering great customer experiences.
- Download this whitepaper and find out how to transform and modernize your digital customer service experience.
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- Check out this whitepaper to see how AI and automation are enabling quick results and simplified experiences for customer service teams.