Contact center agents are on the frontlines of customer service.
The better they do their jobs, the better the companies they work for perform in the market. Plus, better customer service can instantly separate a business from their competition.
According to the Harvard Business Review, customers who enjoyed terrific customer service spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.
Of course, the opposite is also true…
51% of customers would never buy from the same company again following a bad customer service experience.
So how does a company ensure their contact center agents provide the best customer service possible?
1. Better contact center software.
2. Smarter automation.
Later in this post, we’ll take a look at software that companies can implement immediately to boost productivity.
But first, let’s look at a few of the automation trends companies should consider joining.
Essential Trends for Automating Contact Centers and Streamlining Agent Workflows
As we discover more about what customers expect from contact centers (and what other centers are doing to offer superior customer experiences) we can take advantage of emerging trends to catch the wave and avoid being left behind.
The big trends in contact centers are currently revolving around automation. Here are the top 3 contact center managers should know about:
Pre-Emptive Customer Service
What’s better than quickly solving a customer issue?
Solving it before the customer knows there’s an issue at all.
For example, Tesla Motors push software patches to connected cars before drivers notice any bugs. And in another example, iRobots connected to the cloud register themselves and order their own parts when they fail.
These insights come from the report 2017 Customer Service Trends: Operations Become Smarter And More Strategic conducted by Forrester Research.
So how is this applicable to contact centers and customer service?
Well, as Forrester Research points out:
“Organizations will continue to extend the power of analytics to prescribe the right set of steps for customers or agents to more effectively service customers. This includes correlating online behavior with requests for service or suggesting changes to agent schedules via contact center forecasts. They will learn to better route a customer to an agent who can most effectively answer a question, which they base on past success. They will also push the right next steps using customers’ current behavior to help preempt future calls.”
This means, for contact centers with systems that have embedded AI, the system can push out a perfectly-timed FAQ or connect a customer with the right virtual agent the moment a distress indicator is identified – reducing customer complaints and increasing customer satisfaction.
Robotic Process Automation
There are 2 fundamental tasks in customer service:
1. Repetitive, everyday tasks that must get done to satisfy basic customer queries.
2. Complex, human-oriented tasks that require a high degree of empathy and understanding to satisfy deep and important customer issues.
Wouldn’t it be nice if robots could do all the boring repetitive tasks so contact center agents could take care of more important work?
Enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
According to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPAAI): “Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a “robot” to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”
In essence, RPA can reduce errors, improve efficiency, and free up a customer service agent’s time to do more meaningful work.
If contact centers want to go from offering customer service to providing an exciting customer experience, RPA might just be the next way we make it happen…
What’s a working use for RPA technology?
Once dismissed for being too “robotic,” chatbots are now becoming a critical tool for optimizing contact centers across the U.S. thanks to
Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology.
According to Juniper Research, chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per annum by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.
So, what is a chatbot?
It’s basically an AI-powered virtual assistant. They can handle all those menial tasks that contact center agents hate to do, freeing them up to solve more important customer queries.
From answering easy questions to pointing customers to essential FAQs, chatbots are being used to streamline customer service, satisfy customer demands, and give contact centers an edge over their competitors.
Contact Center Software for Boosting Agent Productivity and Satisfaction
After automating certain tasks, empowering contact center agents to perform their job better should be the next priority.
Agents work best when they have software helping them get more work done, faster.
A long way from the frustrating dial pad menus of old, the modern Speech IVR is a simple and effective way to save precious seconds on every call. Speech-aware technology routes the caller to their stated destination quickly and easily. As customers speak their option of choice to get where they need to be, agents are no longer stuck with mundane routing work and transfers.
This means time savings for each call and more time available to help customers. And, since customers don’t need to cope with multiple transfers to get what they need, the effect is a calmer call handling experience for both agent and customer.
At TCN we know happy agents mean happy customers, but the opposite is also true!
Agent Gateway is a powerful contact center software for helping agents answer customer queries effectively and for customers to speak with the most appropriate agent.
Callers are connected to agents in less than a second and information about that customer is shown on the screen instantly. The agent can log notes directly into the interface without the need for a CRM.
And callers aren’t just connected to any available agent…
Instead, they’re connected to the best available agent based on their aptitude using what’s called “skills-based” routing.
At any time during the call, agents can message their managers for quick answers to tough questions or they can patch their managers into the call instantly.
Automatic Call Distribution
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) Software is the technology that enables skills-based routing used in the Agent Gateway.
ACD analyzes customer needs, business objectives, and the conditions of the call center to route a customer call to the most qualified agent.
This way, customers get their most pressing questions answered by the agent who can answer it best.
Predictive Dialing is a program that makes outbound calls by dialing from a list of numbers in order to screen for busy signals, voicemails, no-answers, or disconnected numbers.
It saves agents a lot of time by doing the dialing for them and only connecting the phone to an agent if someone answers the call.
Text Messaging for Contact Centers
AgentSMS is a contact center software that gives agents a direct line to customers, allowing them to quickly respond to customer needs.
Contact center agents can send overdue payment reminders, marketing promotions, even emergency alerts.
Plus, if the customer needs to talk to an agent, they can call the same number they received a text from and they’ll be routed to the right agent.
It makes customer communication seamless and painless.
Workforce Optimization is a contact center software that provides real-time data to measure agent performance and productivity.
It helps managers increase efficiency in their office by staffing just the right amount of agents, minimizing overtime, and contributing to low abandonment rates.
It also records calls so managers can work with agents to improve their performance. Plus, managers are given essential KPIs to track for each agent to keep them focused on achieving both their personal goals and the organization’s goals.
How to Help Contact Center Agents Optimize Productivity Today
When call center agents have the tools and training to deliver a great support experience the results can directly impact the bottom line.
By providing the right customer information and improving agent productivity, call center software can be an integral part of turning support operations into a sales-boosting asset – increasing customer retention, lifetime value, and referral rates.
That’s why more and more, modern businesses are implementing state of the art contact center software like TCN’s Platform 3.0.
To learn more about increasing the productivity of contact center agents, check out our free report.