Live chat agent training is one of the most innovative spaces in today’s customer experience ecosystem. From canned responses to augmented intelligence, companies are training their live chat agents with technology more than ever before. We sat down with Kaye Chapman, Customer Experience and Training Specialist at Comm100, to talk about leveraging live chat agent training to drive customer experience and success.
In case you missed it, check out the most recent installment of our thought leader series – a conversation with Lori Hawthorne, Divisional Director and Senior Retail Analyst of Worldwide Business Research and organizer of E-Tail.
RB.AI: You’re a huge advocate for implementing learning and development techniques to drive positive customer experience outcomes. Could you share some of your insights regarding effective live chat agent training?
KC: Absolutely. Effective live chat agent training has to be centered around customer needs and experiences. In the last few years, we’ve seen an incredible pace of change when it comes to the customer experience. Customer expectations are changing, new technology is being integrated into business practices and business models, and our products and offerings at Comm100 are evolving in step with the industry.
In this environment, companies need to stay agile to be able to react to customer needs. Several approaches to learning and development allow companies to do so. When helping people learn a piece of software, a golden rule of training and development that I often suggest is that live chat agents should be getting just 10% of their knowledge from formal learning experiences, 20% from colleagues, and 70% from on the job learning.
What this means for us and other vendors is it’s vital to look at a variety of different ways to help agents develop their knowledge of whatever software they’re using, not just giving initial training and relying on that to be enough. This includes making good use of knowledge bases and having a range of learning materials available for live chat agents to reference that integrate multimedia such as photos and video.
The best customer experiences are invisible – customers shouldn’t have to go out of their way to get the information they need to solve a problem, and should have ample self-serve materials at their fingertips – and the same can be said for the live chat agent’s experience of learning to use our software. We make sure they’re really well supported to be able to develop their knowledge quite organically, without much extra help being needed from us.
RB.AI: We so often think about generating a frictionless experience for the customer, but the same can be said for your customers that use live chat software, such as West Corporation, Whirlpool, and Stanford University. You want their experience of learning to use that software to be frictionless as well.
KC: That’s right.
RB.AI: When you visit a contact center, how do you assess the workspace and create a plan to provide the optimal channel ecosystem for a brand or company? I would imagine this involves a bit of specialization on a case-by-case basis.
KC: We actually don’t encourage our clients to use any particular patterns or funnel for fielding queries from multiple channels. What our platform does is support customer choice with the idea of being present whenever or wherever the visitor wants to start a chat, from any channel. We coach our clients, where possible, to let the visitor decide and not the company, which is an essential aspect of being truly customer-centric. Our platform supports multiple channels that work together with our integration of knowledge bases, social media channels, and ticketing system. We coach our clients to make use of all these resources together for a better experience for the agent and the customer as well as the use of canned messages, which help to achieve consistency and compliance of responses while reducing knowledge load for front-line agents.
RB.AI: It sounds like you’re making great strides to automate customer chat to remove the burden from the front-line agent through various technologies. I understand that Comm100 is also developing a chatbot. Could you expand on how this bot is integrated into your software environment?
KC: Chatbots are developing rapidly, their adoption is spiking, and for good reason. A correctly configured chatbot service can deflect a significant proportion of customer queries from the contact center, allowing agents to upskill and focus on the more complex questions the chatbot can’t answer.
It’s important for clients to be realistic about what exactly chatbots can handle. At the moment I’d say AI tech is capable of handling 80% of the use cases an organization would encounter. If clients are realistic about exactly what sort of queries their chatbot can handle well and the sort of training required for it to do that, chatbots can provide real cost savings for the business.
It’s good to consider that while many of us think of chatbots as being about conversations, many of the successful use cases I’ve seen involve bots undertaking transactions, such as pushing out credit card forms, confirming a customer’s account information, delivery times and the like. They can also help with resourcing, for example, when agents aren’t online chatbots can provide 24/7 coverage. Also, it’s worth considering that chatbots don’t get sick, they won’t be late for shifts, and they don’t get upset when a customer is rude – so there’s real potential there for chatbots to act as a great backup to cushion you from instances where your human agents might suffer from those issues.
One thing that’s often a concern for clients is making sure that the chatbot is well trained and it doesn’t degrade the customer experience before it improves it. A big part of what we do is working very closely with our clients to ensure chatbots are trained effectively for each business and industry, that it can be effective, it does have contextual awareness, and it’s personalized to the client’s business too.
Kaye Chapman is Comm100’s Customer Experience & Training Specialist, an internationally-experienced writer and trainer, and an MA student at University College London, the world’s #1 center for Education and Social Science. Kaye has worked with Fortune 500, governmental and private firms across the globe to advance customer service operations and embed leading learning and development strategy. As a specialist in Contact Centers, Kaye is passionate about using technology and training to improve experiences for customers and employees alike. You may check out Kaye’s blog here.