The new year brings the great opportunity for organizations to assess their customer engagement strategies, prioritize investments, and make new efforts to improve agent experience. As such, we thought it wise to review some key findings from the Customer Contact Week Executive Report, Contact Center Priorities for 2018, to help guide your organizational decision making this year.
Key takeaways from the report include:
- The #1 customer experience priority is to reduce customer effort
- Coaching, training and quality monitoring are the most urgent workforce empowerment investment priorities
- The highest priority for improving agent experience is improving coaching/training, with 47% of organizations in agreeance
- 48% of organizations report that live chat is an investment priority
Improve Agent Experience
Needless to say, we were excited to see this item at the top of the list of customer contact priorities for the year to come. A lot of what we do at RapportBoost.AI is to equip live chat agents, coaches, and managers with the insights they need to improve performance and efficiency. As such, we think about one branch of AI as being particularly important in the customer service/customer care ecosystem: behavioral economics. Once we’ve aggregated, organized, and run our Artificial Intelligence models on customer live chat data, we need to influence managers, coaches and live chat agents in the customer contact center to apply those insights. In so doing, live chat agents can then influence a positive customer experience or purchase.
So how do organizations plan to improve agent experience in 2018? The #1 answer among respondents was by improving training and coaching. Our research and development at RapportBoost.AI shows that by harnessing and interpreting different sources of data in the contact center, it’s possible to create a customized training experience for each customer service agent. Data analytics have a powerful, two-fold role here. First, to understand what resonates with different customers in a live chat scenario so coaches can develop focused, effective curricula; and second, to keep an up-to-the-minute record of the live chat agent’s performance so they can better coach themselves. With specific recommendations for each chat team and individual agent, coaches and agents are empowered to improve and maintain their performance.
The #2 initiative to improve agent experience is upping the quality of the knowledge base. Put simply, even with stellar training and coaching initiatives, agents need real-time access to knowledge that provides context for the customer interaction at hand. One challenge that organizations report facing is presenting this knowledge base through a clean interface. Furthermore, the CCW report states that “Disparate channels represent a major problem for customers and agents. Customers hate having to repeat themselves as they move between channels, and agents hate struggling to gather relevant information as they engage with new customers.” Organizations must first determine what information is crucial to facilitating a successful customer interaction, and then align their technology to put this at the fore.
ROI Determines Investment Priorities
While in the past, some companies treated contact centers as a necessary investment to mitigate customer concerns, research shows that contact centers can actually be a source of revenue. McKinsey states that brands that improve customer experience see an increase in revenue while actually lowering the cost of service. BCG refers to this model as the virtual customer relationship center – a contact center that meshes digital points of contact with technologically empowered human agents to generate revenue through customer experience.
CCW reports that organizations are prioritizing workforce empowerment initiatives, most likely because they’re expected to yield the highest return on investment. Here are the top workforce empowerment investment priorities for 2018:
- Coaching – 61% of organizations view this as a priority
- Training – 57%
- Quality Management – 54%
- Dashboards – 53%
These numbers overwhelmingly show that organizations are committed to investing in the skill of their human agents to generate revenue inside the contact center. Just 22% of organizations prioritized outsourcing, and 29% prioritized remote agent support.
CCW’s Contact Center Priorities for 2018 forecasts many positive developments in contact centers, most notably, continuing improvements in the technologies that facilitate digitization. As contact centers find new ways to maximize revenue and efficiency, CCW stresses that investing in ways to improve agent experience will remain a top priority.