Contact center best practice: How to improve agent experience

Startek Editorial
Startek Editorial

Jan 24, 2023 | 7 min read

Customers are at the center of every successful brand’s strategy and, as physical and digital spaces merge, organizations are rewriting the rules to deliver more customer-centric and personalized services. However, in the quest to deliver customer experience excellence the needs of agents can be overlooked. As the interface between your brand and the customer increases, the ability to deliver consistently positive CX over time is dependent on a positive agent experience.

Research by McKinsey reveals that happy and engaged agents are 3.3x more likely to feel empowered to resolve customer issues.

What is agent experience? 

Agent experience is the sum of all the things agents encounter as they go about their daily tasks. It's influenced by a wide variety of factors, including training, technology, supervisors, schedules, customer interactions and company policies. And it involves factors like financial and emotional well-being as well as the efficacy and ease of carrying out their work.

Agent experience is one of the most critical factors in a successful contact center as it impacts agent satisfaction and quality of service - two priority areas. What's more, agent experience is directly proportional to the quality of customer experience delivered. Happier agents are more collaborative, patient and more likely to provide better client experiences.

How digital transformation has changed contact center agent experience

The shift toward digital solutions has revolutionized the brand experience for customers and technology has the ability to do the same for agents by reducing or eliminating repetitive tasks which in turn enables agents to focus on customer needs. Gamification, meanwhile, engages agents in their work and promotes positive actions. 

Brands known for their CX delivery effectively combine people, data and technology into a single, seamless and empathetic experience. 

Understanding agent challenges

The first step in creating a best-in-class agent experience is understanding team members’ day-to-day experiences.

Increasing customer expectations 
With the rapid shift to digital solutions, customers expect fast, 24/7 service and they expect brands to know them as individuals, interacting on a 1-2-1 basis.  Agents, therefore, are under pressure to process information quickly and be knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, from the customers’ past purchases to product information and have a 360-degree view of all previous interactions with the brand across channels.

Low agent engagement
Engaging team members is a priority in every contact center. In a fast-paced workplace poor communication, lack of training, fixed working structures, repetitive tasks and legacy systems can all add up to low morale. From bite-sized learning to modern technology, contact centers must consider how they can improve the day-to-day agent experience.

Disparate systems and outdated technology
The contact center is experiencing a major transformation. As people increasingly want to use digital solutions brands have raced to implement chatbots, messaging and other technologies to engage with their customers. But often these technologies are implemented as standalone solutions creating data silos. Without integrated systems, it can be difficult for brands to deliver seamless CX and agents can find themselves managing the expectations of frustrated customers.

How contact centers can improve agent experience

Listening to your agents is a great place to start in improving the agent experience. Understand the internal and external factors that cause friction for teams. Frontline teams will often be aware of pain points that have simple resolutions, creating quick wins. For example, they may highlight confusing IVRs that means customers are routed to the wrong department or workflows that make processes inefficient.

Nine steps to engaged agents

  1. Gamification
    Gamification is the process of engaging and motivating employees through the use of game-like themes.  In a contact center context, this can entail giving agents goals to work toward, rewarding them when they achieve or surpass them and offering a leader board or other ranking system to encourage healthy competition. 
    Gamification makes work more enjoyable and gratifying and therefore can be an effective method for enhancing the agent experience. Additionally, it can be used to promote higher customer happiness or upselling, giving agents a sense of purpose in their work.

2. Automation
In contact centers, automation can significantly enhance the agent experience. Automation lessens the number of monotonous, repetitive tasks that agents must complete, allowing them to concentrate on more high-level, value-added activities. Agent job satisfaction and retention increase when work is more interesting and satisfying. Automation can also assist in lightening the burden placed on agents, enabling them to handle more contacts in a given amount of time and increasing productivity. Additionally, agents supported by automation enjoy a less stressful environment, reducing attrition.

3. Internal self-service
Internal self-service is a valuable tool for agents, enabling them to access the information and resources they need to do their job more efficiently. For example, an internal self-service portal or knowledge base can allow agents to quickly look up information on policies, procedures and best practices, empowering them to resolve customer inquiries more effectively. Internal self-service can also provide a place for agents to share knowledge and collaborate with their colleagues, which builds a stronger team and improves overall performance. With the right tools, resources, guided workforce, scripts and dashboards, agents are more effective in their work.

4. Speech and text analytics
Analysis of customer interactions by agents through speech and text analytics offers powerful insights into team members' strengths and areas for development. Putting this information at managers’ fingertips enables a detailed understanding of training coaching needs, as well as pinpointing behaviors of top performers so they can be replicated across the team. Combined with other tools such as knowledge bases or assisted automation, speech and text analytics can bring up account or product information relevant to the conversation in real-time or autocomplete fields and move between screens on behalf of the agent.

5. UX/UI design
A good user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are crucial for a good agent experience. Making the tools and systems they use more accessible and efficient to navigate, brands can reduce the number of clicks or steps required to furnish details and therefore can be more productive in their day-to-day operations. Involving agents in the design and development of tools can highlight areas that may not be obvious pain points for those who do not interact with customers day-to-day.

6. Agent training
Agent training is not a destination but a continuous journey. Agents need timely and regular training in different areas including building rapport, understanding products or services and successfully resolving queries on first contact. Each agent will be in a different phase of their learning journey and therefore an umbrella program might not suit everyone’s requirements. Contact center managers must carefully monitor and create a customized learning program that attends to an individual's needs. Ensure that the training programs are hands-on and comprehensive and use modern tools like videos and gamification to get active participation from agents. Bite-sized learning can be deployed to give agents access to the training they need at the moment they need it. Having the right knowledge and tools promotes a positive experience for your agents and should be an integral part of every call center strategy. 

7. Dynamic feedback mechanism
Managers need to define clear goals and KPIs for agents and consistently measure them against those goals for continuous improvement. Once the KPIs are set, regularly reviewing the calls can help managers ascertain and measure the growth of their team members on these important parameters. This enables a manager to identify the areas of improvement and they can support agents to perform better by providing them with the relevant knowledge management tools, training and meaningful feedback. KPIs can be built into gamification tools enabling agents to have a real-time view of their performance and promoting the actions they need to take to excel.

8. Unified systems
Today customers expect a personalized, empathetic experience and quick resolution to their problems. This is only possible when the agent has a 360-degree customer view. Agents managing disparate information across multiple systems cannot prioritize the customer and their needs, creating a major roadblock. An integrated system empowers agents with actionable data in a single user interface.

9. Positive employee engagement
Improving agent experience is about providing the right knowledge and tools and creating the right work culture and conducive environment for agents. Employee engagement is a core part of any successful contact center. The right level of employee engagement can help your organization reduce costs, increase productivity and decrease employee absenteeism and attrition. When agents feel that they are being listened to and cared about, they are likely to be more engaged and committed to the organization. 

What are the benefits of enhancing agent experience?

The experience your contact center teams deliver is directly impacted by the experience of the agents performing that work. Brands whose contact center teams feel supported have agents who stay longer, are more knowledgeable and are better able to prioritize the customer and their needs. In this way, engaged agents deliver a better experience, driving customer satisfaction.

Money

Cost efficiencies
A negative agent experience causes dissatisfaction, boredom and non-accountability at work. This leads to absenteeism, attrition and non -productivity which directly impacts hiring costs, training costs and operational costs. Meanwhile, an inspired, happy agent will be more committed, efficient and productive, ensuring operational, training and hiring cost efficiencies.

Superior customer experience
A happy agent delivers a better customer experience which positively impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increased customer engagement and retention
A good agent experience empowers agents to understand customer preferences and buyer journeys through data and insights. Agents can use this valuable data to better tailor the customer experience to their individual needs and preferences. Recommending the most relevant products and services drives growth while also improving customer engagement and retention. 

Startek Agent AI supports 38,000 CX experts across the globe to onboard faster, upskill more efficiently and enable the delivery of greater value to the customer by reducing the burden of repetitive manual tasks that traditionally fall to the contact center.

Contact us today to learn how Startek Agent AI can deliver positive outcomes for your brand.


Stay connected

Please enter a valid email address.
Please select the checkbox before submitting the registration form.
Thank you for sharing your details. We look forward to keeping in touch.