Contact centers have been around since the 1960s. And to say that they have merely evolved since, would be an understatement. Contact centers have outgrown their purpose of marketing and selling, and have become engines of the Customer Experience Industry. Agent Error has also been a problem statement that contact center leaders have been trying to solve since eternity.
We’ve come a long long way from where we were. Technology has helped contact centers become much more effective than they were before. We moved from automatic dialers to IVRs. Thanks to the Internet, cloud telephony with the likes of CCaaS & UCaaS platforms, the Customer Experience industry has never been more efficient.
But with more technology, comes greater complexity.
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But hasn’t AI & self-service made contact centers redundant?
Sure, self-service is amazing for businesses. Not only does it save a lot of bucks compared to human-based support, but also requires little supervision, if the tech is trained well. A lot of enterprises are moving their support to self-service and are trying to maximize their usage. But, are we even there where all customer issues could be solved by self-service or flashy AI chatbots?
“As per a research, 55% of customers prefer talking to agents instead of chatbots or self-service”
Chatbots and AI-based self-service solutions can only go so far as to help customers fix simple repetitive queries (1/4th of all tickets, as mentioned). So, what of the rest?
Customers hate complexity. Repetitive IVRs & ineffective chatbots have been known to be major drivers of DSAT. Wouldn’t you, as a customer rather speak with an agent who knows the way out of a fix, over a chatbot that may get wound up in the keywords you use in your input text?
It’s human to want a sense of familiarity, and customers seek exactly that when they reach out for help. Empathy is one quality that AI bots haven’t had programmed in yet. Human empathy is what allows brands to live through what their customer does, and that’s why contact centers will be around for a long time; only to get better through technology with every passing day.
“A Gartner study shows that only 9% of customers report that they can solve their issues completely through self-service”
Customer problems are diverse and these figures will vary across industries, customer concerns, product/service, etc.
If humans can be more effective, then why do agents still make errors?
Just as contact center technology changed dramatically, the role of agents has too. A contact center employee/agent handles an average of over 110 interactions a day. Each interaction has its intricacies. Customers can potentially ask anything under the sun. Training programs try to cover almost next to everything. But it’s humanly impossible to remember info about every stick in a mammoth stack, even after extensive training.
It’s the responsibility of quality teams to ensure that error rates are kept to minimal levels. More so, efforts have to be made to understand why agents are making errors in the first place.
Here are some basic reasons why, and their solutions:
1. Incorrect & incomplete information – This is a big one & probably the most common reason for agent errors at any contact center. Agents deal with very complex scenarios that vary across from one customer to another. At times, agents give out outdated information or even miss out on some, which can be critical to solving the customer’s issues.
Incorrect/incomplete information can be disastrous in certain heavily regulated industries like Banking, Insurance, Financial Services, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals amongst others.
An efficient knowledge management platform can be used for this very purpose, while they are talking to a customer. Knowledge base platforms have been critical in aiding agents to give the right information to the right person at the right time.
2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) aren’t followed – All contact centers & customer service teams have well laid out SOPs that need to be adhered to while solving customers’ problems. These are usually stacked in very lengthy PDFs, Documents, or PPTs which are bulky and ineffective for an agent while they’re on a call/chat with the customer.
SOP adherence is a critical responsibility of any Customer Experience or Contact Center Operations Leader. SOPs change basis processes, customer profiles, and detailed problem statements. Driving adherence is key.
When these SOPs are laid out in the format of an interactive decision tree or visual how-to guides, they’re more likely to be remembered and adhered to. These can help standardize processes & guidelines so that agents don’t get overworked with excessive documentation that they would otherwise need to go through.
3. Low Findability of Right Information – No one likes to be kept on hold now, do we? It’s quite displeasing for customers to wait, while an agent finds the right information or solves their problem; especially when it takes longer than usual. Businesses & Customer Experience leaders must look at hold times critically and understand the reasons behind it. That is why it is vital to empower agents with the right tools, to maneuver through large amounts of information. The more time it takes to scroll through extensively long documents, the lower the CSAT & NPS that one can expect.
That’s where AI-Powered Knowledge Management platforms cut to deliver the right information in the fastest possible way. Using keyword-based searchability tools, a smart KM tool minimizes wait time to almost nothing.
4. Evolving business & new updates: Businesses today come up with new offers, changes about processes, and regular updates to serve the exceeding expectations of consumers regularly. With the number of updates coming at regular intervals, it’s challenging for agents to stay on top of things at all times.
If Customer Experience heads and supervisors can keep a track of these things and ensure that their knowledge base is updated timely and outdated processes and updates are archived, it helps to have a healthy repository of information for agents and stay updated always.
Agents are as good as the technology that aids them. It’s certainly time when contact center leaders start investing in better platforms to aid agent efficiency & interaction quality.
A Case Study
Let me share one from my experience where we saw Knowmax’s usage drive down agent errors. We deployed Knowmax for an upcoming consumer internet startup that had a large support team. Channels of support were majorly chat & voice, and Agent Error was their biggest concern. Processes & information would change very rapidly and without a scalable KM platform in use, their agents weren’t as efficient as they could potentially be.
After our deployment, we saw agent errors reduce by 39%; coming down from 12% to 7.2%. This considerable decrease in agent error had a direct impact on CSAT too with 60% of the agents showing overall growth in CSAT. Better quality resolutions lead to satisfied customers, isn’t that so?
Knowledge management is a very interesting practice and by incorporating Knowmax as your platform of choice, you could reap tonnes of benefits. We directly & indirectly impact every metric that you as a Customer Experience or Contact Center leader track. Using AI & machine learning on the cloud, we’ve made contact center teams super-efficient without complex deployment procedures. Let’s talk; we would love to show you what we’ve been building behind the curtains.