Innovating Agent  Experience in the Modern Contact Center innovating agent experience

Innovating Agent  Experience in the Modern Contact Center

Is your contact center a leader or follower when it comes to innovating agent experience? Think about the definition of innovation, then ask, “How does my contact center and leadership stack up?”

Innovation is defined as “the process of bringing about new ideas, methods, products, services, or solutions that have a significant positive impact and value. It involves transforming creative concepts into tangible outcomes that improve efficiency and effectiveness or address unmet needs.”

Contact centers that focus on innovating agent experience are better equipped to deliver outstanding customer experience. Given this goal, what can contact center leaders do to elevate and innovate the agent experience? 

What Is Agent Experience?

There’s a saying in customer service: “Happy agents create happy customers.” But getting there depends on agent experience. 

Agent experience is the day-to-day reality contact center agents encounter in their work as they perform the tasks associated with their job. It is shaped by training, technology, supervisors, schedules, customer interactions, and company policies.

Two aspects contribute to agent experience.

Agent Engagement

Agent engagement describes the level of involvement, motivation, and emotional commitment that contact center agents have toward their work, goals, and the company. The term is also used to discuss how well solutions are engaging agents. This can be done through self-service time off requests, shift change requests, access to performance data, and access to learning materials to help self improve. 

Agent Empowerment

Agent empowerment takes engagement a step further — it encompasses providing the necessary tools, resources, work environment, and other factors that enable contact center agents to perform to the best of their ability. It involves giving agents the responsibility and autonomy to make key decisions when interacting with customers — and holds agents accountable for self-coaching and correcting in real-time based on coaching and learning resources shared across platforms.

What is Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) is defined as the interactions and experiences a customer has with a brand or a business. It includes customer expectations, quality of customer care, advertising, packaging, product and service features, pricing, ease of use, ease of doing business, and reliability. CX can be measured as a single interaction.

The Importance of an Omnichannel Experience 

According to a recent Gartner survey on customer preferences, 62% of millennials and 75% of Gen-Z customers prefer self-service almost all the time, even when they can contact customer support. This compares to 19% of baby boomers and 43% of Gen X customers who report they would do the same. 

CX encompasses all of the customer’s touchpoints with a company, both online and offline, for the entire duration of the relationship. Today, digital or online customer experience is critical to the overall seamless experience and for customer satisfaction. It refers to how customers interact with a company through various digital channels — websites, mobile apps, social media, and online chat — and throughout their journeys. 

Modern contact centers that empower their agents to deliver outstanding omnichannel experience gain a competitive edge. 

Agent Experience and Customer Experience are Intertwined

Equipping agents with the right training, tools, and support resources can provide exceptional service and support that delights customers and boosts customer engagement. And as a bonus, great agent experience leads to:

  • Higher retention rates
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Boosted motivation and morale
  • Increased revenue
  • Decreased hiring and recruiting costs
  • Retention of knowledge
  • Better brand and customer loyalty

It’s clear that innovating agent experience yields significant CX and employee experience (EX) benefits, so let’s uncover where you should get started and the role leadership plays. 

The Role of Contact Center Leaders in Agent Experience

Success in creating an innovative agent experience starts with leadership. You play a key role in instilling a CX culture and prioritizing employee experience as key components to exceptional customer experience delivery. 

  • Share the company’s vision and goals broadly. Go one step further and “walk the walk” to demonstrate a CX culture. 
  • Set clear, accurate job descriptions and expectations for agents.
  • Take the time to understand what motivates agents and keeps them happy. Is it hybrid work opportunities? Advancement and growth goals? 
  • Give agents the knowledge, tools, and resources to do their jobs and empower them to delight customers. 
  • Make sure you have the right technology solutions in place to get operations and workforce management under control — quickly and efficiently.
Innovating Agent  Experience in the Modern Contact Center innovating agent experience

10 Strategies for Innovating Agent Experience 

Before diving headfirst into an overhaul of your agent experience, a good place to get started is setting goals, prioritizing strategies, and incorporating key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can measure success out of the gate. From there, you can upgrade and innovate the agent experience in phases and over time. 

Here are some good places to start:

1. Elevate Your Recruitment, Hiring, and Onboarding Processes 

Profile your top-performing agents and seek job candidates with those qualities. Focus on onboarding to help new agents understand the tools and resources they have available and make yourself accessible to answer questions they have along the way. 

2. Prioritize Agent Retention 

It’s much more cost effective and efficient to keep your existing agents happy and on a growth journey. Make these a priority over recruitment and hiring. 

3. Provide Agents with Tools for Success

Ensure your agents have modern, AI-infused contact center technology solutions that eliminate redundant tasks and free up valuable time to provide quality customer interactions and support. 

4. Train, Train, Train

Provide cross training for omnichannel support; training on new technology and upgrades; and also important, training on soft skills. 

5. Provide Consistent Feedback on Performance

One way to provide feedback is by conducting consistent quality management (QM) evaluations. But don’t forget that feedback is a two-way street. Offer agents informal and formal opportunities to give feedback, and make sure you listen and act on that feedback. 

6. Encourage Communication and Collaboration

Provide formal and informal ways for teams to collaborate. Have informative, productive team meetings. Consider opportunities for peer mentoring. Convey an openness to feedback and continuous improvement. Learn from agents’ actionable insights.

7. Respect and Embrace Work-Life Balance and Flexible Work

Let agents pick their schedule preferences and offer flexible work hours to help them be more engaged and attentive when they are on the clock. 

8. Provide Frequent Coaching

Technology solutions make frequent coaching easier and more equitable. For example, you can deliver automated coaching recommendations based on evaluated interactions, build consistency between coaches, and reduce coaching effort by using templates. This allows every agent to benefit from the best ideas. Tracking how effective the coaching was and the impact also ensures you are making progress toward your goals.

9. Incorporate Gamification into the Contact Center

One fun way to provide recognition is through a gamification solution. With this in place, you can give out badges related to company goals in a public forum. Public recognition for a well done job inspires higher performance and builds employee engagement, motivation, and agent morale.

10. Show Agents a Growth Path

Provide opportunities for agents to advance their careers within the organization. Open up doors for promotions and for them to learn and take on new skills. 

Modern contact centers that deliver outstanding customer experience understand the strong correlation between CX and agent experience. Innovative approaches don’t happen overnight, but it is important to get started and invest in the right tools and strategies for innovating agent experience. 

Learn the ingredients for success in our webinar: “Building the Agent Experience Innovation Center.”

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