Voiance recently hosted a webinar with author and customer service advocate Jeff Toister. He shared information found in his recent book, The Service Culture Handbook, on how contact center leaders can get their agents obsessed with service.
If you missed this live event, you can view the full webinar here:
Participants in the webinar submitted more questions than Jeff could address in the time allotted, so he was kind enough to answer them for us here:
(This post is part two of our Q&A with Jeff – check out part one here)
Q: How do we keep our agents engaged when the contact center does not show consistency? There are a lot of changes going on, and our agents feel like they are “just a number” because those changes aren’t made with the impact on agents in mind.
I think you may have answered your own question here! You can't engage agents if you treat them like a number or make changes without considering how your agents will be affected.
Engagement comes from two things. First, agents know what makes the organization or contact center successful. That's impossible to know if the answer is always changing and it's not clearly communicated.
Second, agents need to be committed to helping the contact center or organization succeed. You can only secure that commitment if you can make your agents feel the contact center is committed to helping them succeed. They need to understand their importance and value and how they can contribute to the big picture.
Q: We offer self-help resources to clients, but the clients will often call in and want an agent to talk them through the self-help channel. How do we avoid this scenario?
Customers often request assistance with self-help when those resources are not intuitive.
So my first suggestion is to make sure the self-help resources are really easy for customers to find and use. You might conduct a focus group where customers show you how they'd use the resources. Or if that's not feasible, try having new hires serve as your focus. You'll often learn unexpected lessons.
If you have a knowledge base, try looking at common search terms and alternatives. For example, an airline might have a nice self-help resource on baggage policies, but you want to be sure passengers will find that same resource when they search for "luggage" or "suitcase" instead of "baggage."
Assisting customers with self-help isn't always a bad thing. Try thinking of these calls as an opportunity for customer education. See if the agent can position self-help as a benefit by taking an extra moment to share some resources with the customer. That won't fix the problem on this contact, but it may avoid additional contacts in the future if the customer knows where to find the answer!
Q: I have a customer service rep that does well speaking with customers on the phone, taking extra time to resolve the issue and point out other nice-to-know facts about an application. How do you maintain or balance that level of extended customer care, but still speed up the call, especially when the queue is backed up?
I'm a firm believer that the queue should be a management issue, not an agent issue. Managers should worry about scheduling and staffing, while agents focus on the customer they're serving.
You want to be careful that you aren't effectively asking your agents to provide worse service when there's a wait. That can actually lead to lower first contact resolution, which means more customers have to call back and then guess what? The queue gets longer.
I've also talked to agents who admit that they work slower when a large queue finally gets tamed and wait times go back to zero. This natural tendency to want to ease up a little after a busy time can actually contribute to the queue starting to build up again!
Now there is always a balance to be had. My advice is to help your agents develop a consistent habit for every call. Have them focus on thoroughly and complete serving their customers' needs, while not taking unnecessary time.
Now that you’ve read what Jeff has to say about engaging and empowering agents, learn how a comprehensive multilingual support program can help: