The best customer experiences blend speed and convenience with the human touch, which is a fine balancing act for contact centres today. Ross Daniels at Calabrio shares 3 winning strategies for meeting complex customer and agent expectations.
For brands and businesses seeking to navigate rising customer expectations over the past year, an interesting paradox has emerged: consumers now seek the gold-plated speed and convenience of the e-commerce world but they aren’t willing to sacrifice the human touch. This reflects the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers consumer survey which revealed the four most important factors in an exceptional experience are speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service. Meanwhile, ask the people who are directly involved in running a contact centre or any other customer service operation, what customers really want from their favourite brands and they will say ‘more expanded channels’ (63%) and ‘more emotional empathy from agents’ (62%).
How the CX paradox impacts agent wellbeing
These double-edged customer expectations are highlighted in the challenges faced by those on the frontline. Seventy percent of contact agents say they are managing more calls than they did 18 months ago thanks to a marked rise in the good old voice communication. In fact, 1 in 3 agents say their biggest challenge is ‘too many calls’. Over the same period, 60% of agents say they are managing far more non-voice calls and that meeting rising customer expectations is a top challenge for the contact centre (73%).
Most worryingly, all this is having a serious and detrimental impact on agent wellbeing. Stress puts a negative filter on just about every metric from agent satisfaction and engagement to the service those stressed agents provide. When 1 in 3 agents say they are considering leaving their jobs within the year and 96% of them are feeling ‘acutely stressed’ at least once a week, you know it is time for action.
3 ways to embrace double-edged customer expectations
Follow these three important steps towards happier agents – and customers:
1. Recognise that complexity is the main barrier to success – at first glance, fast, omnichannel service appears to be at odds with a knowledgeable, empathetic, human touch approach. In fact, the real barrier is complexity, accepting it and then recognising that these two apparently different objectives – omnichannel speed and in-depth human connections – actually share the same barriers within the contact centre. Both require greater unification of channels for a 360-degree agent view that delivers seamless CX. Both are held back by insufficient or unsuccessful use of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) while clunky or disconnected systems don’t collect accurate data about agent and customer behaviours.
2. Invest in agent-empowering technologies – to enable and encourage frontline staff to deliver fast, seamless interactions with the human touch. Our own research tells us that agents appreciate the potential impact of self-service, automation and AI. Rather than fear being replaced by robots, agents now welcome innovative tech as a means to free them from tedious tasks (40%) and focus on more fulfilling and higher-value service that only experienced human agents can provide (30%).
3. Be a smooth operator – it’s clear that many contact centres need better, smarter technology to overcome incumbent barriers and enable forward-thinking agent and CX strategies. But surely, doesn’t adding more technology sound like more complexity and more burdens? The key is seeking technologies that resolve, rather than increase complexity.
Look for contact centre solutions that meet three essential criteria for resolving complexity: easy, personalised and smart. Easy to implement, learn and use, solutions should also integrate with existing core systems. Highly personalised, modern systems are built from the ground up, with the agent experience and customer journey in mind. Finally, solutions must be smart with analytics capabilities embedded in their DNA, not as an after-thought or as a series of bolt-on tools.
It’s time to embrace doubled-edged customer expectations with a strategy that keeps both agents and customers happy. In our next blogs, learn what we mean by the technology tug-of-war then use our 3-point plan to remove complexity and become a cloud-smart contact centre. Check out the full report here: “Embracing double-edged customer expectations: Navigating the complexities of rising demands and digital-first customer experiences”, visit www.calabrio.com.
About the Author
Ross Daniels is Chief Marketing Officer at Calabrio
Calabrio is the customer experience intelligence company that empowers organisations to enrich human interactions. Through AI-driven analytics, Calabrio uncovers customer behaviour and sentiment and derives compelling insights from the contact centre. Organisations choose Calabrio for its ability to understand customer needs and the overall experience it provides, from implementation to ongoing support. Find more at calabrio.com and follow @Calabrio on Twitter.