How to Enhance the Agent Experience for Better CSAT & KPIs


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In the customer service landscape, best practices abound in terms of how to leverage technologies to improve the customer experience. However, one key component of the customer experience that has been subordinated (or ignored altogether) in these discussions is the notion of using technology to optimize the customer service agent experience.

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How to Enhance the Agent Experience for Better CSAT & KPIs

  1. 1. How to Enhance the Agent Experience for Better CSAT and KPIs Published by Arm Your Agents with Their Own Personal Assistant A Special Report for Customer Service and Contact Center Leaders
  2. 2. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS Introduction In the customer service landscape, best practices abound in terms of how to leverage technologies to improve the customer experience. However, one key component of the customer experience that has been subordinated (or ignored altogether) in these discussions is the notion of using technology to optimize the customer service agent experience. This is beginning to change as customer service leaders recognize the breadth of benefits that improving the agent experience can deliver to contact center performance. In fact, Forrester Research identified ‘focusing on the agent experience’ as a key trend that contact managers must no longer ignore in their quest to optimize customer service. Noticing an upswing of buzz and momentum on this topic, Forrester made this prediction in their 2012 report, Navigate the Future of Customer Service: “Customer service organizations will continue to work on simplifying the agent workspace and making it more usable. This includes removing extraneous data elements from agent screens, automating tasks to increase agent productivity, and ensuring that relevant information is easily accessible to agents...” For most organizations, optimizing the agent experience will be an initiative that is long overdue. It begins with providing these vital employees with quick and easy access to the answers they need to achieve better performance. The fastest path to an a optimized agent experience is achieved by equipping agents with their own “virtual assistant.” What’s Your Question? Enter your question here Ask! When your CSRs have access to their own on-screen personal assistant, they no longer have to remember where information is stored in your knowledgebase, nor do they need to memorize a click path to the content they need. Instead, they simply ask a question and get a single correct answer with one single click. Compare this to rudimentary “search” procedures which turn up multiple results for the CSR to click through while the customer is waiting. Improving the agent experience in this way truly enhances the customer experience because high-value, frequently referenced content is literally presented “at your fingertips” for the CSR. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 1
  3. 3. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS A Personal Assistant for Your Contact Center Agent Putting next generation knowledge management tools (also known as “virtual agents” or “virtual assistants”) on contact center desktops can have a substantial impact on the efficacy of agent performance. These are the very same virtual agent technologies that are so popular in online self-service deployments for customer-centric organizations today. Bringing virtual agent technology to the agent desktop allows companies to arm each agent with his or her own “assistant”—namely, a virtual agent tool that automates the entire knowledge retrieval process by allowing the Customer Service Representative (CSR) to key in a question while they have someone on the phone, in natural language and then get the single right answer. Gone are the days when CSRs have to sift their way through documents or search results to get the answers to the most common questions they receive. This live example from employee health benefits provider Bloom Health shows what CSR agents see on their desktop: The question and answer engine acts as a virtual agent for the CSR, essentially doing all the work of search and retrieval, but with a much higher degree of accuracy and level of confidence because the single answer leaves no room for guesswork. The latest Virtual Agent technology leverages natural language processing to ensure a high accuracy of delivered answers. Confidential knowledge base information has been obscured. A desktop virtual agent tool like the Bloom example provides many benefits that impact contact center and agent performance, including: •Increases speed to response and therefore FCR scores •Helps make agents work more efficiently while on the phone •Reduces the need for formal call escalation to managers •Eliminates those informal “queues” that exist within each contact center, when CSRs seek assistance from their more seasoned peers •Allows for more rapid, streamlined training of new CSRs © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 2
  4. 4. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS Enhancing The Agent Experience: Where To Begin? Organizations that recognize how improving the agent experience impacts CSAT scores and other KPIs need to know where to begin. The Forrester observation above does a great job of articulating three areas where contact center leaders can direct their focus. Let’s take a closer look at these three areas here… 1: Removing extraneous data elements from agent screens While three-inch thick binders stuffed full of product knowledge are no longer a staple of every agent workspace, many of the problems associated with deep content repositories still confront the modern agent. In many contact centers, agents still have to bring forward dense documentation, (albeit electronic) and scroll, search and click backwards and forwards through multiple screens in order to access information relevant to the discussion. Many content repositories are little more than digital versions of the reference binders of old. Sure, these databases are ‘searchable’ but the time savings over paper-based repositories are nowhere near optimal. GO 2: Automating tasks to increase agent productivity What happens at your contact center after a CSR searches for information that he or she doesn’t know off hand? Odds are, the search gets the CSR closer to the information, but not all the way to the single correct answer. It’s not uncommon for CSRs to have to ‘manually’ search through electronic documentation to find the precise information. If it’s information related to an obscure customer question, or one they have not encountered in a while, you can bet this search is going to extend the length of the call. Forrester calls for true automation, such as a desktop that allows the CSR to ask a question in a natural language and immediately be delivered the single correct answer – with no guesswork and no manual searching through content. 3: Ensuring that relevant information is easily accessible to agents To make the agent experience as user-friendly as possible, what’s needed is an efficiently organized agent screen, with information categorized in a logical and intuitive manner. Key areas should be: Virtual Agent Tool – The main ‘work’ area, to house the answer to the question input field and the resulting answer field. Popular questions or Top 10 Questions – A continually refreshed list of the most relevant questions based on what’s actually being asked by consumers. This should be a dynamically generated and refreshed list of the most popular questions actually posed by customers over a customizable period of time. Related Questions – Related questions provide a natural, logical path for the agent to follow as they help the customer resolve their issue. This list of questions should be intelligently linked to the response that the Virtual Agent tool currently shows on the agent screen. A look at the following agent screen show how Bloom and netSpend have created agent workspaces that accomplish all of the above recommendations from Forrester. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 3
  5. 5. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS In addition to the Virtual Agent workspace that allows the CSR to ask a question in natural language and get the correct answer, the CSR is also armed with easily accessible answers to follow up questions that the customer is likely to have, all of which are accessible instantly with a single click. Confidential knowledge base information has been obscured. These workspaces truly enhance the customer experience because high-value, frequently referenced content is literally presented at your fingertips for the CSR. Guesswork, searching, scrolling, and toggling through multiple screens is all eliminated. Confidential knowledge base information has been obscured. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 4
  6. 6. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS Extending the Benefit: Scaling Virtual Agent Technology to Other Channels An additional benefit of deploying a virtual agent solution is that the same technology can be deployed in your other channels as a customer-facing online self-service tool. In simple terms, customers who choose to visit your website or social channel such as Facebook can use the same question-answer technology in exactly the same manner. That is, your customer can simply enter their question using natural language and get a single correct answer, as shown in this example: RBC dedicates an entire web page to offering customer advice, with a virtual agent self-service tool displayed front and center. The use of their brand mascot, “Arbie” alongside the tool beckons customers to ask questions. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 5
  7. 7. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS What’s more, customers can enjoy these highly satisfying and self-directed resolutions regardless of form factor. CIBC is a global bank that uses virtual agent technology to deliver a consistent online self-service experience to customers on the iPad (pictured on the left), mobile phone (on the right) and on their customer facing website. After deploying virtual agents such as these, it’s not uncommon for organizations to reduce their overall chat, email and call volumes by 40% or more. As a result of deflecting thousands, or hundreds of thousands of calls and emails to the contact center (particularly during peak times of the year) a host of additional benefits are realized, including: •FCR is further improved, and escalations are reduced as a result. •Low complexity informational requests are handled by the customer, instead of the agent. Agents can focus on delivering higher value assistance that requires more interaction such as screen-sharing or an activity that generates revenue such as upselling and cross-selling. •Agent engagement and morale increases, since the nature of the calls are less repetitive. The agent can have a greater impact on the customer service experience versus acting as a live “robot” that simply offers the same basic customer-service information hundreds of times each week. •Consistency of answers across all channels improves when customers and agents are using exactly the same technology to retrieve the single correct answer. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 6
  8. 8. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS Hedging Your Bets is Key for the Contact Center of the Future Despite the emergence of the online environment as the channel of first choice for resolution among consumers, savvy leaders recognize that this does not spell the demise of human-assisted channels. In fact, customer behavior data shows that a significant portion of modern customer are still engaging live support. Data from Forrester paints a clear picture of the prevalence of the live phone support usage across all age demographics. Interestingly, while usage is widespread, satisfaction scores are low in every demographic, as illustrated here.1: Gen Z (18-22) Gen Y (23-31) Gen X (32-45) Young Boomers (46-55) Older Boomers (56-66) Golden Generations (67+) Us Online Adults Usage 63% 68% 66% 67% 75% 68% 68% Satisfaction 57% 64% 59% 65% 66% 72% 64% Another interesting piece of data is the explosion of technology-driven customer-initiated engagement with the contact center: Click-to-chat adoption has risen dramatically between 2009 and 2011. In 2009, 19% of online US consumers had used chat for customer service; by 2011 that number nearly doubled to 37%.2 Click-to-call and screen sharing technologies are also being adopted with fervor. As recently as 2009, these metrics weren’t even measured by Forrester, but by 2011, the adoption of these tools across the US online consumers had exploded to 27% and 25% respectively.3 Clearly, the contact center will remain a vital installation in the customer service channel strategy. What organizations need to focus on now is driving maximum value from the contact center by using technology to optimize the agent experience. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 7
  9. 9. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS Getting Started: 3 Things to do Right Now 1: Explore what’s possible first-hand The fastest way to understand what an optimized agent desktop experience should look like is to experience the speed, accuracy and efficiency of next generation virtual agent technology first hand. Following are four live virtual agent deployments that you can explore for yourself online, right now. Simply enter a question into the ask field and watch as the one right answer and related content is instantly provided: While the above examples are customer-facing virtual agents, the knowledge retrieval technology and the efficacy of the experience is exactly the same as would be used by your CSRs. The only difference in agent deployment is the layout of the screen, which can be customized according to best practices, as illustrated in the Bloom and netSpend examples above. 2: Subjectively compare Virtual Agent deployments with your current agent desktop After looking at the live examples mentioned in item number one above, the next step is a quick subjective exercise that will allow you to perform a rough but highly valuable initial gap analysis. With the virtual agent technology experience fresh in your mind, and knowing what an optimized screen should look like from the Bloom and netSpend examples above, look at the agent desktop currently deployed in your contact center. Make note of differences in both experiences. Sitting with an agent while he or she handles a handful of live calls will give you a very real understanding of impediments to efficiencies. Note what the rep has to do in order to move through the call. How many clicks and screen toggles take place on an average call? How much searching and scrolling goes on? It’s best to do this with not just one rep, but a selection of reps of varying caliber and tenure, for a more accurate view of how the current agent experience is negatively impact your KPIs. Opportunities for improvement will quickly begin to show themselves. © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. 8
  10. 10. SPECIAL REPORT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONTACT CENTER LEADERS 3: Obtain objective diagnostics and an actionable map for improvement Having deployed hundreds of virtual agent solutions for organizations in every industry, IntelliResponse can quickly assess the health of your contact center agent experience as it compares to industry best practices. IntelliResponse has worked with Forrester to design a vendor-agnostic analysis tool that evaluates the efficiency of your online customer service experience, and can bring the same methodology framework to evaluate your contact center desktop. The outcome of this analysis is an objective diagnosis of opportunities for improvement, and an actionable plan on next steps. Contact IntelliResponse to schedule a no-obligation 30-minute assessment of your internal knowledge management capabilities. 1-866-454-0084 Questions About this Guide? For questions on any part of this Guide, contact IntelliResponse at 1-866-454-0084 or SOURCES: Understanding Customer Service Satisfaction to Inform Your 2012 eBusiness Strategy 1, 2, 3 About IntelliResponse Systems IntelliResponse is the leading provider of virtual agent technology solutions for the enterprise. We create profitable online conversations for our private and public sector customers around the world. With our patented Enterprise Virtual Agent (EVA) solutions, corporate websites, mobile applications, social media channels and agent desktops can all be transformed by an engaging virtual concierge, empowering customers to ask questions using natural, conversational language and delivering an effective and engaging online experience. Some of the worlds most recognized corporate brands and public institutions trust their customer experience management needs to IntelliResponse “ including CIBC Bank, ING Direct, Charter Communications, Progress Energy, Copa Airlines, Kobo Books, Penn State University, Yale University and Harvard University. For more information about IntelliResponse, visit © 2012 IntelliResponse Systems Inc. To learn more about taking online self service to the next level for your customers, visit 9