Empower Your Contact Center Agents with an Omnichannel Desktop
In an age where most consumers go to the Web to find what they need, only the tough questions reach your agents. Before customers contact you, they have already tried to resolve their pain point themselves by visiting your company website or other social communities. They are savvy, they are knowledgeable — and perhaps they are also frustrated because they have not been able to resolve their problems via self-service.
Supporting disconnected multi-channel customer interactions has left contact center employees and back office experts overwhelmed with multiple applications and screens to navigate in order to provide customer service or sales. On one hand, they are trying to help grumpy customers who expect them to know about their previous interactions. And simultaneously, on the other hand, they are trying to navigate between multiple applications to connect the dots.
Most companies today can support multi-channel customer interactions such as voice, email and chat, but typically cannot share context across all channels inclusive of voice (omnichannel context), cannot synchronize multiple channels simultaneously within a single interaction (multimodality), and cannot direct journeys or interactions in step-by-step sequences (orchestration). Moreover, this approach leaves companies unable to manage the lifecycle of the customer journey to provide the kind of personalized and context-appropriate experience that today’s digitally driven customers demand.
For a customer to complete a single task – buy a product, answer a question, understand a bill – often requires multiple and disconnected interactions with a company. When a customer needs assisted service to supplement self-service, they typically must start over. In a chat, for example, it means starting a dialog with an agent without context. These time-consuming and disconnected experiences cause missed sales opportunities and high operating expense for your company and frustration for consumers.
The job your agents and back office workers perform is only as good as the tools and insights you provide them. In this white paper, you will see how you can empower your staff with an omnichannel desktop that puts knowledge and customer history at their fingertips, aiding them in delivering a customer journey that keeps competitors at bay.
This blog discusses common challenges faced by consumers as well as contact center agents and supervisors and how an omnichannel desktop can help address these challenges. You will also be able to quantify the need and calculate the business impact.
An omnichannel desktop is not just a “nice to have” – it is becoming a solid business requirement. When agents have everything they need at hand, including the context and details of previous interactions, this reduces transfers and lowers contact duration, while boosting customer satisfaction.
Customers Expect an Effortless Experience
What is causing your customers to be frustrated? Step into your customer’s shoes and look at it from their perspective. As a customer, when a web search proves fruitless in finding an answer to our question or a resolution to our problem, we eventually pick up the phone and call the company. At this point, all too often we have to repeat information. And repeat it yet again. “WHY did you ask me for this information in self-service,” we may ask ourselves, “if the agent is going to ask me for the same information AGAIN?”
We want the companies we do business with to be respectful of our time, and it is frustrating when they aren’t. In fact, in a recent blog, Forrester analyst Kate Leggett stated “77% of adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.1” We do not want to waste time sitting on hold. And yet we are forced to do so.
Or are we? Most of the time we have other options. We can find companies that deliver equivalent – and perhaps superior – products and services. When we experience poor customer service, we have the power. We can decide to take our dollars elsewhere. When this happens, the company which is delivering a poor customer service experience loses.
How can your company address these challenges? A good starting point is to ask what makes customers happy. As customers, we feel good when the agent knows who we are, so we do not waste time stating, or reiterating, our name, account number, and other relevant information. We want the agent to know we sent an email last week, and had a web chat session yesterday. We want immediate answers, rather than transfers and hold time. And, we want first contact resolution; none of us wants to call back and start over again.
Our loyalty increases when we are served by an agent who doesn’t have to scramble to find the answers. Agents have their own challenges, but we as customers do not spend much time being empathetic. All we want is a pain-free journey and prompt resolution.
Agents Lack the Tools to Deliver an Effortless Experience
Agents know customers want an effortless experience and a prompt resolution. But often they are hampered in delivering that experience.
They may lack insight into what has happened previously. They may have to ask for information a customer has already provided, despite knowing the customer will not be happy to reiterate it. Agents may be unaware of the customer’s journey history – past emails, web chat sessions, or social media interactions. That means they are likely dealing with customers who are irritated at having to spend their time bringing the agent up to speed.
At the same time, agents may be under scrutiny from their supervisors. They may be accountable for meeting certain metrics such as an average talk time of less than five minutes, and yet may not know where they stand relative to targets.
These things add up to a significant amount of frustration and stress. It is no wonder agent retention is often a problem.
Or your agents are afraid to engage with customers because of an outage, back office or product issues and they know they will not successful in solving the customer’s issues.
The Solution: An Omnichannel Desktop
The right agent desktop can resolve the customer irritations we have talked about, and be a key factor in an agent’s job satisfaction, which boosts agent retention.
When new agents come on board, a single intuitive interface for all types of contacts will facilitate training and reduce the frequency with which agents need to ask for help. When agents work from an omnichannel desktop, they use the same interface to handle every type of interaction regardless of their nature or sources (direct calls, website, IVR, mobile application. etc.). This means they do not have to go into different applications to respond to emails, handle web chat, co-browse with the customer, and handle phone or video calls.
When an agent uses the same desktop for every customer interaction, it will be easier for him or her to be more productive and deliver a great customer experience.
Figure 1: An omnichannel desktop provides an intuitive user interface for agents and eliminates the need for switching between applications
Agents need multimodality in their omnichannel desktop, too, to enable flow between channels. A customer can start a service request in mobile or web, and an agent can add chat, co-browse, or video for a richer customer engagement. For customers, multimodal interactions can drastically reduce effort and issue resolution time.
An omnichannel desktop provides a single view into all interactions and touchpoints involved in a customer journey, and enables workers to engage customers using channel multimodality. It includes knowledge management as well as a journey history for insights into optimal next steps or offers. When a customer mentions a previous email or web chat, or a text message or a post on a social network, the agent can instantaneously access the details of that contact – including the customer’s web browsing history. Neither the customer nor the agent has to spend time repeating past interactions.
An omnichannel desktop also allows you to provide agents with a knowledge base at their fingertips, within the same interface, enabling them to immediately respond to customer inquiries. A common response library provides answers to FAQs, and the agent can readily select the appropriate answer and push it to an email or web chat, or to a social network.
Additionally, agents need one-click access to their real-time statistics, so they can see where they are relative to meeting targets. Whatever metrics your contact center cares about are measures your agents will be able to view in real time.
The Many Challenges of Managing a Contact Center
Contact Center Supervisors usually manage a large team of agents. If their agent turnover is similar to the industry norm, supervisors suffer a substantial amount of overhead in constantly training a new pool of agents. Agents have to be trained on company products, policies, and procedures, as well as various software applications, and how to navigate between applications.
Sometimes business targets shift – or there is an unexpected surge in the volume of contacts – and the supervisor is expected to handle it all with aplomb. The demands are many: meet your metrics, make your agents happy, onboard trainees quickly, and ensure customers receive timely, accurate, and swear-free service. Supervisors have a tough job. They have to meet all these demands while ensuring their agents deliver a quality customer experience.
As a Contact Center Executive you can make your supervisors’ job easier when agents and supervisors use the same omnichannel desktop.
- Supervisors have the same desktop as their agents, plus additional supervisory-specific features
- It is easy to monitor, coach, or barge in – whether voice, video, IM, or web interactions
- Agents and knowledge workers have the same omnichannel desktop, facilitating training and coaching
- Messages can be broadcast messages to their agent group
- They can approve or reject outgoing email, and provide input in an interaction note
- It is easy to manually move work between queues, drop work into agent’s workbin, etc.
Well-informed, well-equipped supervisors are key to a smoothly running contact center. When you give them the best tools possible, you get the best performance possible from your contact center.
Business Benefits of an Omnichannel Desktop
Grab your calculator, because the business benefits of an omnichannel desktop are many. Improved agent retention, lower training costs, higher customer satisfaction, shorter talk time, and more. You gain insight into where the customer is on their journey, and can more readily deliver a personalized experience.
With enhanced contextual information delivered in an omnichannel desktop, you eliminate or reduce the time for agents to confirm positive identification, search customer data and history of previous contacts in the customer journey, and identify intent. The customer is less apt to have to repeat information provided previously, as the agent now has a single view of previous chat transcripts, emails, text messages, social interactions, and call notes. This allows for a reduction in average handle time.
Financial analysis with a benefit calculator will help you assess the impact of an agent desktop that provides contextual data with each contact. Using this calculator, in the example below we specify an agent’s loaded wage (salary, benefits, etc.) is $50,000. The number of interactions handled by the company averages 500,000 per month. Say 25% of these contacts are from customers who have previously contacted you; therefore, contextual data of previous contacts applies 25% of the time.
When agents do not have context, what is the average amount of time it takes to bring a customer up to speed on previous transactions? In working with over 160 companies we have found that companies save an average of 44 seconds per interaction when context is provided.
In our example below, this translates to an annual value of over $440,000 – all made possible by giving agents immediate access to the customer’s previous contacts.
Figure 4: Benefit calculator showing impact of contextual data
The benefits of an omnichannel desktop that supports multimodality and journey management are numerous, helping companies boost contact center performance while reducing costs and delivering a great customer experience.
The time to invest in your CX capabilities is now. Customers expect easy everything anywhere anytime and they don’t like having to repeat themselves.
Ask your vendor about Omnichannel capabilities. They will say they can do it so ask them to show you. If they can’t show you then maybe you should consider other options.
This is a 1930 Clarion Radio. It is passed its prime but has been fully restored to its former glory. It works and includes AM tuning, flat or sharp tone control and volume. It picks up household static and lightening like a champ! But would you want this to be your primary source of news and music entertainment? Of course not!
So why not invest in new software based technology for your customer engagement where you will be able to clearly understand your customers and make good business decisions with great actionable data!