Technologies Contact Center Agents will Thank Management For
by Kyle Henderson
Working in a contact center isn’t an easy gig. Day after day, call after call, agents may speak with callers who are irritated, distressed, uninformed, and often volatile because they would rather be doing anything besides calling a contact center to resolve an issue. Plus, they’re probably calling as a last resort because they couldn’t find what they needed online.
Agents know the huge role they play in customer experience, and that it’s important for them to be the “In Real Life” happy face of the company. Like an actor on stage for performance 19 of a 3-week run, agents must treat each caller with the same enthusiasm the actor delivers on opening night. Therefore, organizations need to do what they can to ensure agents bring their “A” game day in and day out. Here are five IVR technologies that will make life more pleasant for your agents and they’ll thank you for implementing.
I have a 7 year-old son. Every evening at dinner he asks me what my favorite dessert is. Every. Single. Evening. I’ve toyed with the idea of coming to the table with a small sign hanging from my neck that just says “brownies” to nip the question in the bud, before he asks it.
Similarly, no agent likes fielding the same questions over and over. Providing a Frequently Asked Questions feature in the IVR, with a tool such as INI AudioMenus™, allows callers to find answers on their own, often without ever speaking with an agent. It’s like showing up to the table with a sign. Eliminating even a percentage of with-agent FAQ calls will curb agent frustration and drive efficiency. (Brownies wouldn’t hurt, either.)
I bought a house last year, so I frequently find myself playing the role of a handyman. When I inevitably call my dad with questions about whatever I’m trying to fix, he always tells me, “When you have the right tool, the job is much easier.” He’s right every time; so I regularly venture off to the home improvement store to get it.
Likewise, there are specific tools that contact center agents need to do their job effectively. Arguably the most important are a unified agent desktop and scripting tools. Often called screen pop, a single unified agent desktop, allows agents to focus on the customer rather than searching through different systems for a caller’s profile or account information. Contact centers can create highly intuitive screens and scripts without the requirement for programing knowledge, ensuring agents instantly have the client information they need to service any customer interaction.
Agent First Callback
Fear of the unknown can be a real issue for contact center agents. I worked my way through college as a call center agent, and I can tell you first-hand that it’s really scary talking to strangers on the phone sometimes. You never know if that next call is the one on which you’re going to get screamed or cursed at by some person who’s been waiting forever. And when you are finally connected to the person waiting in queue, you rarely know much about the caller beyond what department they called. The not knowing is a frightening prospect. That’s where Agent First Callback can help.
You probably already know that callback is a popular technology that lets a caller maintain place in queue and receive a callback at a later time, either scheduled or first-available. Agent First Callback with INI SureConnect™ gives the agent the ability to preview call information such as the date and time the request was received, the callback telephone number and any other information the caller left, better preparing the agent to speak with the caller. The agent can replay and pause the information, get a fairly good idea what s/he’s in for, prepare accordingly and then launch the callback.
Transaction Applications & Information Access
Sometimes people just need something done quickly: activate a new credit card, sell a stock, renew a driver’s license and so on. These tasks take hardly any time and are pretty straight forward. They’re also the type of activities that can fill up queues and bog down agents, leaving callers who have more critical issues to wait.
Similarly, when callers just need information, such as business hours or interest rates, is it really the best use of agents’ time to deliver that information? Are agents really going to be happy long term, and keep working at that contact center if they’re constantly telling people that their nearest bank branch is only 2.2 miles from their door next to the pharmacy? Probably not. The thing is, a large number of people are more than happy to do these simple transactions on their own, without the help of an agent.
Voice user interface developers such as INI can create custom self-service applications that can do each of those things and many more, taking the onus off of the agent. The caller gets to place that service request, pay that traffic ticket, get that account balance, and the agent can focus on the more challenging tasks. With self-service, call queue waits will decrease, agent morale will rise and customers will get the information they need more quickly, which is a better customer experience. That’s a win/win where I come from.
A lot of things can lead callers to have a poor customer experience, but No Jitter recently cited a study that found more than 73 percent of callers would be likely to switch providers if they had to be passed around between multiple agents. In other words, once callers are connected with a person, they expect that agent to be able to do what they need. If s/he can’t, the caller gets upset, tells all his/her friends about it, they all boycott the organization, revenues bottom out, layoffs come and eventually the organizations’ doors are chained shut. Okay, maybe it’s not that catastrophic, but you get the idea; we want to avoid putting agents in the awkward position of not being able to serve caller needs.
But what if your agents could rest assured knowing that almost all the calls they take are coming to the right place: that the people on the line are looking for exactly what that agent specializes in? Better, right? Intelligent call routing like INI LaunchPort™ does just that. It uses advanced caller ID and intelligence gathered from the caller and the enterprise database to automatically route the caller to the type of self-service application or agent they are most likely to need. For example, the system recognizes that a caller’s account is past due and automatically sends him to billing, instead of to the wrong place first.
These five solutions are just a few ways to ease the agent’s workload and improve the contact center experience. There are many more products and applications that can be tailored to exactly fit the needs of enterprises, government agencies, financial services providers and anything else. Remember, happy agents are productive, loyal and lasting agents, and having solutions that benefit your agents, your customers, and your bottom line is good for everyone. For more information on any of these or other INI technologies, please contact us.