In an age where customers rely more on self-service channels to resolve standard queries, the calls that live agents receive become increasingly complex.
Customers expect agents to be knowledgeable and value their time, and contact center leadership expects agents to achieve all their KPIs.
The struggle to manage multiple expectations puts undue pressure on agents and leaves them feeling unempowered to take the right action at the right time.
Customer-centric organizations must understand the interconnectedness between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) and prioritize customer service agent empowerment to achieve better customer experiences.
Why is customer service agent empowerment important for customer experience?
Customer support agent empowerment with the right tech stack, workforce environment, growth opportunities, and incentives encourages them to give their best to each customer interaction.
According to McKinsey research evaluating the impact of employee engagement on improving contact center performance, engaged and satisfied contact center employees are 3.3x more likely to feel highly empowered to resolve customer issues.
When customer service agents connect with their organization’s core mission and vision, they will likely find their work meaningful and strive to impart empathy in customer service.
Let’s take a look at how you can implement customer service agent empowerment practices to deliver better customer experiences:
1. Do not look at your agents as mere numbers
Your customer support agents are at the front lines of customer service. They experience customer frustration firsthand and understand what customers expect.
Call center agent empowerment begins by listening to your employees’ needs, challenges, and thoughts about work and incorporating that to create an employee engagement strategy.
While talking to agents about their work is a crucial first step, organizing informal team meet-ups to socialize can go a long way in cultivating a sense of belonging.
Engaged and satisfied support agents are 8.5x more likely to continue their job than leave within a year.
These factors directly impact customer service as happier agents create happier customers.
2. Conduct a comprehensive audit of resources customer service agents use
The quality of contact center resources impacts a support agent’s ability to communicate meaningfully with customers.
The following are the key considerations to evaluate the usefulness of resources customer care agents currently uses at your organization:
- Are the internal chat systems helping agents communicate effectively with their colleagues and supervisors?
- Do contact center agents have the right customer service tools to track customers’ historical data and record new transactions?
- Do agents have seamless access to the right knowledge to help customers find solutions quickly?
- Does the existing contact center technology make it easier for agents to achieve optimal performance on critical metrics like average handle time (AHT), first contact resolution (FCR), service level (SL), etc.?
Evaluating the challenges agents face with existing resources will help identify the need for resources that can improve their efficiency and scale customer service.
3. Provide customer service agents with a single source of knowledge
When agents sift through multiple sources of information, they take longer to do even basic tasks and often fail to deliver the right solution at the right time.
Different teams retain different versions of truth without a constant source of knowledge. This creates an inconsistent flow of information across customer touchpoints and negatively impacts the customer experience.
As customer service is based mainly on knowledge transfer, implementing a single source of truth will help your customer service agents deliver speed and accuracy in customer service without wasting time on information search.
Empowering customer service agents to access relevant knowledge from a single source will help maintain the consistency of knowledge across touchpoints and enable omnichannel customer experiences.
Benefits of implementing a single source of knowledge:
- Reduces search time
- Improves agent efficiency
- Delivers faster and more accurate resolutions
- Creates omnichannel CX
Knowledge Management Guide 2022
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4. Deliver a seamless search experience
Support agents must be ready with right customer knowledge every minute of their day. A knowledge base is effective if it offers an intuitive search for users to access relevant knowledge quickly with simple keyword inputs.
Your knowledge management practices should focus on leveraging technology to eliminate as much manual work from agents’ workflow and enable them to invest in more critical tasks.
Knowmax’s AI-powered knowledge base offers google-like elastic search to deliver contextual and actionable knowledge.
With relevant keyword inputs, agents can search by title or for content within any document with the in-document search. Agents can narrow the search by selecting filters like content type, category, and publishing date for faster information retrieval.
5. Ensure the knowledge base is integrated with existing CX tools
Given the fast-paced customer care landscape agents operate in; they need the skills to multitask; engage with multiple customers simultaneously, and access multiple articles and user guides while ensuring speedy customer service.
Your customer service tools, like CRM, CDP (customer data platform), chat, etc., should work with your knowledge base and empower customer service agents to resolve tickets without switching between multiple applications.
The Knowmax’s chrome extension widget enables agents to access any content stored in Knowmax right where they are(CRM, telephony, chat). For instance, an agent working on Freshdesk (Knowmax supports other CRM integrations) does not need to change the screen to use Knowmax.
The chrome extension widget allows customer care agents to enter relevant keywords to access the content in Freshdesk itself. The widget prevents screen toggling and enables customer service agents to access multiple content pieces simultaneously.
6. Empower customer service agents with the next best action steps during customer interactions
During customer calls, agents need information at their fingertips as customers expect solutions at the drop of a hat. Ensure that your agents do not juggle between customer service SOPs scattered across disparate folders.
Empowering customer support agents with guided workflows that provide the next best action steps based on customer-generated user responses.
When customer service agents know exactly what to ask the customer next, customers sense confidence, giving agents the mental bandwidth to complete the conversation with faster and more accurate resolutions effectively.
Knowmax’s cognitive decision trees (guided workflows) can be integrated with CRM via multiple open APIs to auto-traverse customer information at any workflow step.
For instance, during call handling, a customer service agent can add a customer ID and move through the decision tree workflow based on the user responses the customer shares.
Suppose any step of the workflow is integrated with the CRM. In that case, the customer information will be auto-traversed from the CRM, doing away with the need for the customer care agent to probe manually through that step.
This reduces repeat conversations and average handle time (AHT) and improves the resolution quality.
7. Encourage call care agents to share feedback
Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Make it easy for agents to share their feedback after using any knowledge piece.
Acknowledge their suggestions and implement them to accommodate agent voice in the business processes that impact them directly.
8. Never stop training your agents
Call center agent training is never a one-time thing in a rapidly evolving customer care space. Knowledge changes quickly, making it critical for agents to use the know-how in feasible ways.
Your training strategy should enable agents to learn on the job and cater to the different learning styles of employees. Most importantly, continuous customer care agent training empowers them to deliver better customer experiences.
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As employee experience and customer experience are interconnected, implementing customer service agent empowerment practices is the direct way to create superior customer experiences.
When customer care agents are empowered with the right call center tools, team structures, and training, they find their work meaningful and go the extra mile to help customers resolve their challenges.