When businesses are looking to improve their performance and increase revenue, it’s normal to focus on the customer and optimizing their experience. It makes sense — companies should always have the customer in mind. However, more people are starting to realize the importance of agent experience. Rather than being an afterthought, a positive agent experience contributes to a strong business and happy customers.
This article will answer your most pressing questions relating to agent experience, including:
- What is an agent in business?
- What is agent experience?
- Why is agent experience important?
- 3 ways to improve the agent experience
What is an agent in business?
Customer Service Agent definition (business): A company representative who deals directly with the business’s customers to resolve any issues, provide requested information and generally support them throughout the process.
The exact definition of an agent and their role may vary between organizations but, as it relates to agent experience, the agents definition specifically refers to representatives in customer service and support. They’ll typically interact with customers over multiple communication channels including the phone, email, live chat, and/or social media.
What is agent experience?
When we talk about agent experience, we’re referring to every part of the agent’s work and their engagement with the company. This includes the tools they use and the processes they follow every day, as well as more intangible aspects of their job such as the company culture and whether or not they feel valued as employees.
A commitment to agent experience means recognizing that — with their close relationship to the customer — agents are one of the most valuable employees in the company, rather than viewing them as cogs in a machine that can be replaced at any time.
Just as optimizing the customer experience involves understanding all the different interactions between the customer and the business, optimizing the agent experience requires an in-depth knowledge of the agent’s role. What tasks are they expected to carry out daily? How easy is it to do the job effectively? What resources and support are available to them?
Once you have a clear picture of the agent’s responsibilities, you can then find ways to help them become more effective and improve their working environment, as a result improving the overall agent experience.
Why is agent experience important?
While agent experience may seem like a lower priority to some businesses, a positive agent experience is closely linked with a positive customer experience. In many cases, your agents are the face of your company. If they can do their job effectively then your customer’s satisfaction will likely increase, in turn leading to greater customer loyalty, higher customer retention rates, and increased revenue.
On the other hand, a negative agent experience can be devastating to a business. In a sector already known for its high turnover rates, agents who consistently struggle with their work environment are more likely to be less motivated and have higher absenteeism levels, inevitably leading many to quit. For every agent that leaves, a replacement has to be hired and trained, costing the company more time and money as they’re onboarded.
3 ways to improve the agent experience
Provide the right tools
Being a customer service agent isn’t the easiest job, but it becomes even harder if they don’t have the right technology in place. At a minimum, this should include software that allows you to manage incoming queries, effectively communicate with customers, and access resources to answer any questions.
Sometimes companies have the latest tools, but they don’t work well together. If an agent has to spend too much time searching for information between apps, it can quickly become frustrating. When companies implement an omnichannel approach to customer communication, it’s important that the agent can easily switch between channels depending on the customer’s preferences and the issue they’re dealing with. For example, SnapCall connects with chat platforms including LiveChat, Intercom, and Zendesk, meaning that your agents can open up a voice/video call or even share their screen from the chat platform, without having to jump from one app to another.
Agree on performance metrics
Another common source of frustration is when there is no clear agreement on how performance is measured. While there are many different customer service metrics out there, these must be discussed with the agent so they can work accordingly. In most cases, it’s best to look at multiple metrics and how they relate to each other.
For example, measuring First Call Resolution (FCR) and Average Handle Time (AHT) is great, but if the agent prioritizes those metrics without considering Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS), they could inadvertently focus on resolving calls on the first contact as quickly as possible, without ensuring the customer is satisfied with the result. To get the best results, combine quantitative feedback with qualitative feedback, such as analyzing call recordings to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Provide ongoing training and support
Change is inevitable, whether it’s in the form of new tools, product updates, a shift in customer expectations, or moving to remote work. As a result, training can’t be just a one-off that occurs during the onboarding process. Instead, along with providing the foundational skills and training they need to get started, invest in your agents with ongoing coaching.
However, support involves more than just making sure agents know how to use their tools correctly. Agents will often have to deal with unhappy customers, and as a result will likely face a lot of negativity and even aggression. On top of the challenges unique to working in customer service, dealing with pandemics, lockdowns, and other restrictions has tested all of us. The potential for burnout and mental fatigue is higher than ever.
Managers need to ensure agents are trained on how to deal with stressful situations and can easily access additional support to cope with any anxiety they may be experiencing. By taking the time to talk with your agents and actively prioritizing their well-being, you can demonstrate by your actions that you’re truly committed to creating a positive agent experience.
So, what is agent experience? It’s a change in attitude that’s reflected in the company culture. Rather than ignoring agents’ needs and expectations, companies that work on promoting agent experience do their best to make their day-to-day work and interactions as effective and frictionless as possible. In turn, when your agents are happy, your customers are likely to be happier too.
By providing your agents with the right tools for the job, agreeing on how their performance will be measured, and supporting them throughout their employment, you can reduce turnover, lower costs, and increase revenue too.
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