Contact center agents are increasingly asked to take on more complex and difficult work, especially as digital portals and self-service tools manage the most simple and straightforward customer requests. It’s no wonder that more than half (56%) of agents feel stressed about complex customer interactions. The truth is, a knowledgeable team that can confidentially handle such difficult situations can make all the difference between a great brand experience and one that falls well short of customer expectations.
Companies need to better support their contact center staff to prevent costly employee burnout while creating a better all-around customer experience. In particular, brands should refine their contact center processes to address the complex customer requests that agents typically face on a daily basis.
Before you design an AI and RPA powered agent assist solution, get to know the four types of interactions your contact center agents struggle with the most. If you are ready to dive deeper into the data and the insights go ahead and get free access to Gartner’s research on this topic.
4 Complexities Contact Center Agents Struggle With
1. Diagnose Problems and Resolve Complex Situations
2. Gather Info, Explore Options and Work Around Existing Policies
Navigating these requests is incredibly tricky, and requires a keen understanding of business policy and the ability to run a quick cost-benefit analysis of going against those guidelines. It’s a difficult line to walk for even experienced contact center professionals. Most contact centers empower their agents to use their discretion and authorize them to issue credits, or work with their supervisors to process such exceptions in line with best practices. While this is a reasonable approach under current circumstances, there are plenty of risks to consider — customers who engage in high-effort interactions are likely to churn eventually; the contact center may resolve similar customers very differently leading to an inconsistent customer experience that deviates from the brand promise; the business may lose revenue while trying to accommodate workarounds that are not warranted.
Real-time agent assist tools can go a long way toward identifying circumstances where it makes sense to work around policies and knowing when to stand your ground. Putting more analytics in agents’ hands can be extremely helpful as well, helping them better understand the commercial value of their actions when addressing these types of situations. In many cases, contact center agents help your customers understand your brand promise and relate to your processes. With the right real-time assistance, you can equip your agents to process a workaround request both in compliance to your best practices as well as with empathy for your customers.
3. Validate the Customer Experience With Empathy and Advise Customers
A sympathetic ear is critical, and it’s important to also be analytical to understand why the customer is seeking validation. If a customer is placing an order online and calling back to understand order status, a well-trained agent might be able to address that request quickly and move on to the next customer. However, the right agent assist solution can capture insights from the dialog between the customer and the agent to hopefully prevent such a call in the future. Perhaps, the customer called back because the shipping information shared online isn’t clear especially for back-ordered items. The best solution to this problem requires the necessary changes to the customer’s online experience.
While some of these these interactions might require the agent to recommend an alternate course of action, the rest don’t necessarily have an immediate problem that needs to be solved. It can be enough to simply listen to the customer and let them know that their concerns are valid and that the company is working to make things right. Advanced speech analytics platforms can be helpful in terms of identifying and documenting these interactions for later review. Again, real-time agent assist platforms can provide the guidance representatives to navigate such delicate situations.
4. Listening to Customers Who Need to Vent
Sometimes a customer just needs to vent to someone. Like validation-based calls, these types of interactions are all about giving the customer an avenue to be heard. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to keep a cool head and effectively manage these interactions. It’s important for agents to look past the customer’s frustration — or even outright anger — and drill down to the underlying issue that has them so upset.
Taking an analytical approach can help agents deal with a tense situation. Rather than asking your agents to meditate more and read a couple of books on stoicism, consider taking that stress off their mind by using an agent assist solution that can diagnose the situation and recommend actionable solutions. Needless to say, your agents also deserve your empathy, as in many cases, there may not be a “next best action” besides listening to your customers vent.
It takes a combination of skills, experience and temperament to deftly handle these types of interactions, which is why continual training should be a top priority for contact center leaders. Help your agents learn on-the-job, every time they manage a customer interaction. To prevail in the digital era, learning needs to happen in the flow of value delivery, and not as an isolated activity before or after your main work streams. Real-time agent assistance helps your agents feel more comfortable with even the most challenging situations so they don’t get rattled by an angry caller.
Across each of the four complex interactions listed above, the one constant is the need for better agent support. Here is our definitive guide on how you can use AI and RPA to enable your contact center representatives with insights and guidance in real-time, so they quickly and effectively resolve customer requests, no matter how complicated those issues may be. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: Agents can breathe a sigh of relief while customers enjoy quicker resolution times and a better experience.