Being a call center agent is not an easy job. Responding to customer requests and complaints requires skills and expertise to solve a problem in a quick and effective manner.
But how do we empower call center agents to create an amazing customer experience?
In an industry fraught with high staff turnover, a successful call center needs motivated agents that feel empowered to go out of their way to solve a customer's problem.
Here are four ways you can delight your customers by creating a fulfilling working environment for your employees:
1. Empowering call center agents with responsibility
Let's face it. No one likes to be micromanaged. It is de-motivating and doesn't foster trust between the employee and the employer.
If we want to encourage empowerment in our call centers, we need to give our agents the room to take on authority to make decisions with consequences.
Southwest Airlines has created a loyal and productive workforce by doing just this. The airline gives their employees a sense of ownership by allowing them to use their judgment to make decisions. While this has backfired one or two times for the aviation giant, they have never backtracked on this policy by adding more rules.
Instead, they acknowledge that empowerment comes with mistakes and that their people are their greatest strength and long-term competitive advantage.
If you are looking to get exceptional service out of your call center agents, give them the authority to great an amazing experience for a customer and not as a reactive reason when something goes wrong.
2. Give agents access to timely information
A 2010 study by Clickfox showed that a top customer frustration by 41% of respondents was "having to speak with multiple agents and starting over every time."
This is a sure fire way of leaving a bad taste in your customer's mouth and creating an environment where our agents have to deal with highly agitated clients.
To avoid this disconnect between what the company wants and what the call center agents are telling customers, we need to ensure our agents always have up to date information. As soon as a decision is made at the top to implement a change, it needs to get filtered down to the agents as soon as possible.
In some cases, escalation is necessary to solve a problem. However, when 'touchpoint amnesia' happens, this once again ruins the experience for the customer and demotivates the employee.
By making sure our agents don't need to ask the customer for the same information over and over again, we can reduce call times and keep frustration levels on both sides of the phone call low.
By ensuring this, we can avoid agents having to escalate issues and creating added frustration for the customer. Instead, we can create an exceptional customer experience by having our employees equipped with the insights to solve the problem in a single phone call.
3. Motivating call center agents to delight customers
It is no secret that call center agents are a powerful piece in the customer service experience. With one simple phone call, they have the ability to transform a disgruntled customer into a loyal customer.
Playing such a pivotal role in the client's lifecycle is one that deserves recognition. It is why we need to make sure that we have reward systems in place to motivate the kind of behavior we want our agents to encompass.
One of the ways to do this is through KPI's centered around productivity. We want our agents to get through as many calls as possible in a bid to not keep customers waiting - but are these behaviors actually retaining customers?
As this year bows out and 2017 is on the horizon, it's time to move away from having KPI's centered around call time and instead create a reward structure around the customer's overall experience.
By empowering call center agents to strive for delight, we can create memorable customer interactions that are going above and beyond the industry standard.
4. Simplify your technology
One of the most frustrating things in the world is trying to access valuable information and it just won't load. Whether it is a Google search or sitting on the phone will a disgruntled customer.
As fun as it can be testing all the latest gadgets and technology - it might be hindering your chances of success. Your tools should be able to integrate one into the other so your agents can access all the necessary information from a single platform.
The longer call center agents have to spend hopping between applications to solve a problem, the worse experience you are creating for the caller. This can reduce staff motivation and lead to low retention rates.
To empower your employees, you need to give agents a single, unified view of the customer's information which can be transferred between agents seamlessly. The quicker your agents can access information, the better position they are in to help a customer.
In conclusion, by giving your employees space to delight customers, you are solving one of the industry's biggest problems - employee retention.
Employees want to feel like you trust them to make good decisions. They want to feel like they have room to go out of their way to wow a customer with exceptional service and they want to be recognized for their efforts.
By implementing these key points in your strategy and empowering call center agents, you will be spending less time devoting resources to recruitment and more time building up agents that feel empowered. Not only will your HR team thank you, but so will your customers.