Contributor: Jody Rosher, CX Consultant

Customer service agents have a tough job. Generally, the customer only speaks to you if something has gone wrong and it’s your job to fix it as soon as possible. In a busy call centre, you will be juggling phone calls, live chats, emails, and even social media channels along with one-to-ones, training, and any other duties. All whilst upholding service level agreements which will affect your wider team and, in some cases, have an impact on your payslip. I know this from experience as I was an agent on the front line for many years.

Later on in my career, I was a System Administrator in a busy international call centre for a well-known brand. Part of my job was making the experience better for the customers AND the agents. For example, launching extra toolbox tools like Co-Browse, streamlining agent workspaces, and adding smart automations to deliver efficient, personalised service with minimal effort. Introducing extra functionality that helps make the agents’ job easier is likely to improve their enjoyment of the job, and improve customer satisfaction as a result.

The customer service team is your brand’s voice to the customer, so they greatly influence how customers regard your brand. Gartner recently said that 85% of your brand’s touchpoints are with customer service. Customer service teams are also your eyes and ears, so probably know as much about the internal workings of the company as anyone and can provide vital feedback about what is and isn’t going well as well as what could be improved for the end user.

A mix of training and technology can make a world of difference, giving agents confidence and clarity when dealing with even the most complex requests.

Muda (無駄) is a Japanese word meaning “wasteful” and is a key concept in the Toyota Production System (TPS), the precursor to LEAN Manufacturing. According to Toyota, Muda is a process that does not add value. Therefore, reducing or eliminating Muda is an effective way to increase efficiency (and in turn, profitability) and is a fundamental philosophy to LEAN manufacturing practices – but this philosophy certainly has applications for a contact centre environment. In fact, when I worked client side, it was at the heart of my mission to improve efficiency by removing unnecessary steps from the agent journey.

When you’re looking for a contact centre solution, as an ex-customer service agent and a System Administrator for a contact centre, but also as someone who now works with our clients to implement contact centre solutions, my advice is:

  • Visualise the agent journey: Use post-it notes and a white board (or the digital equivalents) to map out each step an agent has to take to resolve different types of issues. Note which steps could be automated by a contact centre solution (or skipped entirely – remember Muda!) and refine each journey until it is as efficient as possible.
  • Get your team involved: Start early during implementation and involve senior customer service agents in shaping the tools needed to provide excellent support effortlessly. Your long-term agents have so much knowledge locked inside their heads; they know all the pitfalls, workarounds, and shortcuts and actively want to improve things for the customer (if only so they don’t have to answer the same question numerous times a day!)
  • Lean on agent knowledge: Involve your customer service teams in creating Knowledge Base content and also helping to fill the gaps where no answer exists. There are several tools and reports in the tool I now work to implement for our clients, Oracle B2C Service, which can spot knowledge gaps and help to promote the most helpful content. But anecdotal data from the front line can also prove to be invaluable (your current system may well offer this functionality too!) in making sure the Knowledge Base content that your customers and agents rely on is correct and up to date.
  • Care for your agents: They are very important to your business. Build in ways for customer service teams to provide feedback to the rest of the business on the wins and the challenges they face. Make sure your support teams feel proud to do the job they do, it’s the number one key for an effective service desk that leaves customers feeling happy and supported.

It’s not easy to get any technology solution to fit perfectly to your business, but choosing the right tool, and ensuring your customer service teams feel involved in its development is a great place to start. In my next blog I’ll take a closer look at some of the functionality I think is essential for any contact centre solution. Until then, if you want to find out more about how we can support you to get your solution right on the first try, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn or get in touch with our team at [email protected]

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