No contact center can do without a good knowledge database. But the people, the agents on the phone or at the keyboard, are at least as important. The way they treat customers has a considerable impact on the success of the company. Especially since customer service has become a critical success factor in competitive markets. We’ve put together a brief guide for contact center employees and service center human resources departments.
Everyone is talking about digitalization and how much it can contribute to efficiency and quality in customer service. And they’re surely right about that. But service in particular is an area in which humans will remain crucial for success. This was confirmed by a recent Accenture study that surveyed nearly 25,000 customers in 33 countries. The results showed that 58 percent of customers prefer to talk to a person to get quick answers and 73 percent of those surveyed preferred human interaction when they had problems to solve or were seeking consultation. But what makes a contact center employee successful?
Service generally promotes customer satisfaction and strengthens customer loyalty any time the customer’s needs and expectations are being met. That may sound simple. But in practice, it’s a slightly different story. A contact center should do the following:
Those are very demanding requirements and a contact center employee does need certain personal skills but also support from smart processes and good software.
Contact center agents should have these skills
Good service agents are characterized by certain personality traits which can be identified through observation, testing, and simulations. Customer surveys, for instance, are a good means of finding out whether employees place the customer’s needs first — both in their conduct as well as the quality of their service content. These types of surveys can be conducted automatically after a customer interaction using modern ticket tools. In addition or alternatively, the HR team can also observe the employees at the contact center and their conduct directly, evaluate them, and initiate appropriate training measures.
The characteristics of the perfect call center agent are generally considered to be:
Contact center agents should above all work on their emotional stability, conscientiousness, and emotional intelligence to provide their best possible performance at work.
But contact centers are not only successful as a result of the personality of their employees: When selecting and training personnel, the human resources department in the contact center should have information about the expectations of the agents regarding the technical environment and the atmosphere of the workplace. Because for good customer service, the environment has to be right. This environment includes the corporate culture as well as processes and the technologies used.
Agent + technology = a system for success
The working environment of the contact center agent is heavily influenced by technology. Good headsets, ergonomic keyboards and fast computers with good screens should be standard. Then it’s important that the agents can get all the information they need on their screens including contact information, previous customer communications, and the questions that the customer has. The customer shouldn’t have to say anything twice.
Also, the help the agents provide should come immediately. A central knowledge base that is properly maintained by editors that contact center agents can rely upon makes that possible. Ideally, agents get answers by clicking through what is known as a knowledge tree, which can be seen in its entirety on the screen and eliminates tedious clicking back and forth. Or, instead of outputting masses of data, a search feature can use the context of the inquiry to display only qualified results from the many available documents.
If the technology works, the agents will be motivated, productive, and deliver good results that will contribute to high customer satisfaction. In the end, investments in customer service pay off in longer-lasting customer relationships, higher repeat sales, and improvements in cross-selling and other KPIs.