Contact Center Solutions – Agent Stress in a Challenging Economy

I recently moved and, thus, had the requisite phone calls to get old services disconnected, new services started, insurance changed, etc.  My experiences with the contact centers into which I called varied from pretty good to downright pitiful.   I won’t name names either way, but let’s just say I’m not overly impressed with the cable guy.  One thing I did notice is that, while most of the agents with whom I talked were friendly and tried to be helpful, the path to that agent and the tools and processes the agent had at their disposal varied greatly – and this variation often tied directly to my satisfaction with the call and my general feeling toward the company.

 

In this economy, agents are under greater stress than ever.  In addition to possibly having their own personal financial struggles, they have more stressed callers to handle with a smile, and these stressed callers have more needs than ever.  So I wondered, how could automation and better tools and processes help relieve agent stress and restore some sanity to an often difficult job?

 

A few ideas from my recent experience for bringing a little sanity to an agent’s life – and in the process saving money and looking much more professional as a company:

  • Use IVR and Screen Pop more intelligently.  When I called into some of the contact centers during my move, I would often traverse an IVR, enter some ID or other personal information, and eventually be routed to an agent.  In many cases, however, the agent asked me for the same information that I had entered in the IVR.  Come on now… that is so 90s!!  Use screen pop to present the data I entered to the agent!  It reflects poorly on the company and wastes agent talk time to have them ask me that stuff again.
  • Streamline an agent’s ability to ask for and receive assistance.  During 2 of my calls recently, I was put on hold while the agent talked to their supervisor.  In one case, this happened 3 times during the call.  For the sake of the agent and the caller (and wasted phone lines), automate this process!  Provide a simple way for an agent to ask for assistance from a supervisor or group of supervisors and for a supervisor to agree to help, provide text assistance, and optionally coach the agent and even join in the call.  If the supervisor can do this all from their own desk or remotely vs. having to walk over and plug in at the agent’s desk, even better.
  • Provide the agent with an easily searchable knowledge base.  I despise being put on hold for an extended period of time while an agent tracks down information.  In the age of Google and natural language search tools, there is no reason that contact centers can’t provide their agents with a current, searchable knowledge base containing FAQs.

There are many other automation opportunities that empower agents, decrease agent stress, make for happier agents, and at the same time save a company money.  Share yours!  I would especially enjoy hearing your stories as an agent or caller – how could better contact center solutions and automation help?

 

Welcome to April!!

Matt Taylor