Part 1: Agent Experience

14/01/22 Wavenet
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Welcome to our new series on Agent Experience – your key to happier customers, more empowered employees, and a more efficient contact centre. Read on to find out why.


When a customer contacts a business today, they want it all their way. They want to get in touch via their chosen channel, and to self-serve wherever they can.

Convenience is king, and this has encouraged contact centres to automate their customer journeys wherever possible. And they’re not exactly short of options.

From letting customers use a knowledge base, to setting up a chatbot on a website, to setting up email sequences, there’s an abundance of ways businesses can now automate their contact centres – and it’s seriously tempting to automate it all.

Unfortunately, though, this can be a very slippery slope. Like eating every donut in the sharing box yourself, ticking every box marked ‘automate me!’ can lead to serious problems.

Because when businesses have too much tech and not enough orchestration (of tools, people and processes), before long they can end up with thwarted, frustrated agents and a sub-par customer experience. 

Organisations that over-automate their customer service are making a fundamental and common error: they’re forgetting that providing a frictionless experience for your customers depends on providing a frictionless experience for your agents.

And that isn’t just about tech – it’s about people and processes too.


The problem with relying purely on technology

Customers have big expectations around how they want to contact businesses and how they want to be served. Vendors make big promises around what their technology can do. And organisations have big to-do lists and tough KPIs and goals to meet.  

So when implementing a new solution and it doesn’t just fall short of expectations, but adds to a list of problems - that’s a rough position to be in.  

Too often, technology that’s meant to improve customer experience ends up making life tougher for agents – and for customers. 

Technology acts as an obstacle to agents when: 


Systems are difficult to use

Unfortunately, having to constantly switch between systems and piece together customer information from multiple sources is business as usual for many agents. This creates a slow, unsatisfying experience for customers, and a frustrating, disempowering experience for agents. 


Channels aren’t connected

Without proper channel orchestration, agents lose out on valuable, helpful insights that turn a contact centre customer experience from OK to oh wow. And customers can get stuck in a loop, unable to move from knowledge base to chatbot to agent without losing their progress and repeating themselves. 

Together, these challenges create more work (and stress), disempower people, and disappoint customers in a big way. 


The new nucleus of customer interaction


Now you know (and we know) that you can’t deliver exceptional customer service without both technology and people. 

You need the power of automated, digital solutions to speed up processes.  

And you also need the empathy, the quick and clever thinking, and the expertise of people.   

But how to balance these two essential components of customer service so that you’re neither over nor under automated? The answer: focus on Agent Experience. 

Think of it like walking on a tightrope. Spend too much time looking down at one side (adding too many people) or the other side (adding more too much technology), and you’re headed for a fall. But pick a point straight ahead to focus on (Agent Experience), and you’ll make it.


So, what is Agent Experience?

Agent Experience (AX) is to contact centre agents what CX is to customers: a measure of how happy they are with the business – and how well they are being served. 

Contact centres with the best AX get that tight-rope balance between technology and people right by combining best-practice automation and AI with empowered and empathetic agents. Which means they lift their contact centre and customer experience out of silos and improve it, dramatically.  

In the real world, that means using automated self-service when customer interactions are easy and simple, and using people when they aren’t.  

It’s freeing agents to be their helpful, empathetic, human selves – whether they’re in the office or at home. (And it’s ensuring that every agent can deliver a tailored service, whether they’re human – or virtual.) 

Ultimately, better AX lets organisations combine the personal touch with the power of automation. So their customers get a consistently great experience, regardless where or how they get in touch.


How do you start building a better Agent Experience?

A better Agent Experience starts and ends with the customer journey.   

Creating a seamless, frictionless and satisfying customer journey should be an organisation's touchstone when looking for ways to improve their contact centre and customer service. And this comes down to equipping people with access to expert knowledge, integrating cross-channel data, providing powerful AI tools, and giving agents an easy-to-use interface. 

Focusing on your people – and giving them the tools to excel – enables them to enjoy their jobs more, and ultimately, perform better.


What’s next?

This is a new approach to customer service and customer experience, so there’s a lot to unpack and explore.  

In our next post, we’ll dig into why customers might be feeling more disconnected than usual. (Hint: It’s got nothing to do with geography.) 


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Contact Centre, Puzzel

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