Contact centers, and contact center agents, are currently experiencing an unfortunate crunch on two fronts. Christian Wagner, CEO of VoiceFoundry, explains.
Complications stemming from ongoing supply chain challenges have led more customers to reach out to contact centers with questions, concerns, and complaints. Meanwhile, contact centers, like many other businesses, continue to suffer the effects of the Great Resignation. This increase in customer contact combined with fewer agents to answer questions has resulted in some of the highest customer wait times in 20 years.
How can businesses provide excellent customer experience and support their contact center agents while navigating these challenges? By providing contact center agents with better tools. Organizations can better meet the needs of their contact center agents by making real, direct technological investments.
The role of a contact center agent has evolved rapidly over the past few years. More and more, customers are seeing contact center agents as less of a necessary evil to call upon when something goes wrong, and more as a brand ambassador and voice of the company. As a result, savvy companies have started to view contact center agents as allies and strategists in their ongoing campaign to improve customer experience. This evolving attitude and increasing competition on the job market highlight the need for businesses to invest in better tools, training, and technology for their contact centers.
Popular suggestions for improving the customer experience include automating simple tasks or allowing customers to self-serve by chat or phone. These changes could also provide an added benefit of improving the agent experience. By automating high-frequency, low-skill, or low-value-add interactions, contact centers can reduce wait times for customers and lower strain on their agents.
While automating simpler customer interactions may lower the overall workload, it does have the unintended result of human agents being assigned more complicated, nuanced, or delicate customer interactions—making those conversations more challenging. But the same data that can be used to automate and streamline the customer experience can be used by a human agent to personalize and inform customer conversations. The same artificial intelligence and machine learning that power automated solutions can also be used to collect and deliver the right data to contact center agents, empowering them with the contextually rich information they need to provide the best customer experience possible—whether that’s data on the customer they are serving, the product they are calling about, or any number of other factors.
The best customer support call is one that was prevented before it occurred. But Murphy’s Law tells us that even with the bar of quality set high, things can, and often do, go wrong. There’s a lot of interest in how automation and other new technologies can be used to simplify or streamline the customer experience, or even customize experiences based on who the customer is, where they are located, or what they are calling about. In the hands of a well-trained contact center agent, that data can be used to create a personalized and memorable experience.
Businesses who wish to remain competitive must build agility and adaptability into their strategies to meet current challenges and whatever challenges may come next. That includes giving contact center agents the right tools and technology to make nuanced, data-driven, yet ultimately human decisions.
About the Author
Christian Wagner is CEO of VoiceFoundry, a TTEC Digital company, and world leader in Amazon Connect deployments with more than 260 discrete customers. Specializing in platform transition, automation, conversational analytics, and end-to-end CX design, VoiceFoundry was acquired by TTEC Digital in 2020. TTEC employs more than 50,000 people around the world specializing in all aspects CX design, deployment, and execution. Christian has experience at Amazon Web Services, where he was a plank owner of the launch of the Amazon Connect service, and at Microsoft, in a variety of technical, product management, and sales roles related to incubation of new services and launching Microsoft into the Voice and UC arena.