On Feb, 10 2023
Anyone who has worked in the contact center industry over the past decade has seen a slow but steady increase in the difficulty of customer support calls issues reaching your team. With the rise of self-service solutions including knowledge bases and chat bots, many of the simple questions are now handled by technology and never make it to a phone call or email.
While the deflection tactic of using this technology often results in a lower contact volume, it also means that the inquiries reaching your contact center are typically more complex and confusing. It’s the questions customers can’t solve easily on their own and need help to find the right answer.
All of this means instead of agents getting a healthy mix of easy and hard questions, they are now faced with tackling primarily the difficult and stressful problems.
How can a contact center best work with their agents as this change continues? Here are 4 strategies to consider for effectively dealing with the rise of increasingly complex customer issues.
1) Make sure to always have agents with different expertise – In the past when most issues were straightforward a contact center could get away with loose staffing requirements. This is no longer the case. Instead, you always want agents with different knowledge specialties available that can cover a wide range of problems so you are prepared for all the twists and turns a complex issue can take.
2) Streamline your issue routing to improve resolution time – Having highly qualified agents is great, but it means far less if a system isn’t in place to ensure they are getting issues matched to their expertise. More contact centers are prioritizing modern call routing software to get a customer support issue in the hands of the right agent immediately who is qualified to work through the problem from start to finish. Simply put, as the number of agents and supervisors that are involved in resolving an issue increases, the more likely the customer will be to abandon the process altogether. This is a worst-case scenario because it also means the customer will be more likely to provide negative feedback.
3) Closely (and respectfully) evaluate agent productivity – Complex issues can result in dips in agent efficiency and morale. They may be spending too much time trying to solve issues they aren’t qualified to fix or they are removing themselves from the queue after being frustrated with their previous conversation. Don’t watch over their shoulder, but instead utilize adherence monitoring within WFM software to track agent activity. It’s a modern way to see what an agent is doing – on the phone, on break, in training, and more – while still being respectful of their space. A supervisor can spot trends such as low phone activity and step in early to help coach an agent with declining morale. This can lift up the spirits of an agent and help them understand the right steps to take the next time this specific issue occurs.
4) Encourage time off to reduce burn out and improve focus – Staying locked in with a high level of focus through so many complex issues can be exhausting for any agent. It’s a reason why time off is valuable to help improve agent retention as issues continue to become more sophisticated. WFM software provides a robust time off management system that simplifies the entire process. A few taps on their phone and an agent can request a day off and see immediately when their request was approved or denied. In addition, WFM software provides features like shift swaps which can be leveraged by agents with unique skills. This gives agents on your team a way to trade shifts and help each other out as needed. The WFM software handles all the shift swap checks and balances (such as overtime concerns) through automation and immediately makes the switch if everything checks out. It’s a win-win for everyone and all parties involved will receive a notification when the swap has been finalized.
To summarize, contact centers can become more effective at dealing with increasingly complex customer support issues by placing more emphasis on the unique needs of their agents. Navigating through difficult issues is a challenge – especially for new agents – so keeping your existing and knowledgeable agent workforce as happy as reasonably possible is vital to keeping productivity high.