Creating the next generation of super-agents

Jonathan Maher, enterprise cloud sales leader for Europe at Avaya, explains why employees are an organisation’s secret weapon.

Experiences, and the associated feelings that these experiences produce, matter. But these experiences don’t begin with the way we treat our customers – they start with our employees. Customer experience and employee experience are in fact two sides of the same coin. A great customer experience depends on having an engaged employee, and having engaged employees translates directly to valuable customer experiences.

It’s a simple equation: engaged, motivated employees equal a better customer experience.

Because the customer experience is only as good as the employees supporting it, this means that, to nurture the next generation of customer service champions (“super-agents”), it’s just as important to focus on the employee experience as it is to focus on the customer experience.

Employees are the biggest single-line item in an operating budget, making churn a real challenge because it can take three to nine months to train a new agent to the required level of proficiency to operate effectively. If employees leave, then a higher ratio of less proficient agents make up the contact centre, so it’s critical to provide proper support, tools and coaching right from the moment of onboarding and throughout an agent’s tenure.

But creating a super agent involves much more than training.

Crucial to successful working is agents having everything they need at their fingertips, including knowledge, access to subject matter experts and real-time insights, so that each engagement is effortless. This is especially relevant (and challenging) with home working. Super-agents should never need to say, “Sorry, my system is being slow,” as this really means that they’re scrambling to gather information, jumping from one application to another with loads of windows open on their desktop. Instead, provide every super-agent with an integrated workspace, underpinned by AI, analytics and knowledge management, which proactively finds the required contextual information for them.

Another key enabler for the super-agent is the digital co-worker. This is like doubling your workforce without the cost but with all the benefits. Digital co-workers can take the time-consuming, manually intensive work away from the agent, which means the agent can focus on the things that really matter – the personal human touch, relationship management, brand engagement – that will deliver a more memorable customer experience.

Meanwhile, given the importance of the human touch in delivering the best customer experience, leveraging not only an agent’s skills but also their personalities, behaviours and performance attributes can make a huge difference to an interaction. Instead of routing customers to the first available agent, behavioural pairing AI identifies subtle, but hugely valuable patterns within human interactions and intelligently matches customers with the best employees to generate more successful interactions and, therefore, customer experiences.

Of course, the best employees to handle a particular customer interaction may not always actually be in the contact centre at all. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, as using a business rules engine can pair customers with unique needs with subject matter experts wherever they are. This is another key point about super-agents – they don’t necessarily fit the mould of people who can work eight-hour shifts in an office. Why lose potential super-agents who can deliver excellent customer experiences because they need to work from home? The ability to work from anywhere should be a permanent fixture.

Empowered and enabled employees become more than agents – they become brand advocates who drive measurable increases in enterprise productivity and profitability, helping to create long lasting value and the emotional attachment that our customers have to our brands. That really is a super-power.

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