I was going to start this post with a breakdown of 'a day in the life of a call center agent', but then I realized that I only needed to share the first 4 minutes of an agent's day for you to get the picture. It goes a little something like this:
Customer: Hi, I have a question regarding my last billing statement. Can you please help me with that?
Call Center Agent: Yes Sir, I would be happy to help you with that. Can you please tell me your phone number or customer account number?
At which point the agent takes the following actions:
Step 1. The agent goes to the search screen in the CRM to find the customer.
Step 2. Then the agent navigates to another tab.
Step 3. Then the agent opens a dialogue box to see the previous call notes.
Step 4. Then the agent moves to another tab to see current services.
Step 5. Then the agent opens each service in turn to see the current bill payment status.
Step 6. Then the agent closes these views and backs out of two screens.
Step 7. Then the agent opens the billing summary module.
Step 8. Then the agent keys in the service ID.
According to this example, a typical agent may perform eight steps, all within the first few minutes of the call, before the actual call even gets underway! Now factor in updating fields, rekeying data into multiple systems, while dealing with impatient and/or angry customers - multiply this 80 times during an 8 hour shift - and you can understand why agents suffer from stress, headaches, and frustration. All of these steps are also the culprit for high average handling time (AHT), low first call resolution (FCR), and poor customer experience.
At this point you should be thinking: "But hold on! What about all the technologies we invested in to optimize the call center? We just deployed/upgraded the latest CRM/Billing/Knowledge Management systems so that our agents have all the resources they need to perform their job better and faster." The fact of the matter is that while all these systems are excellent for managing customer information they are lacking in functionality and support that your agents need to do their job quickly, efficiently, and with the least amount of roadblocks to prevent them from being successful at their job. To address these issues, call center managers are turning to Performance Support Systems (PSS).
Performance Support Systems leverage the call center technologies you have in place to increase productivity and reduce errors, so call times decrease and more issues can be solved in a single call. They enable a seamless business process within the application or across multiple applications, so that your agent can perform tasks quickly, with fewer errors, and have the time and patience to concentrate on the conversation with the customer.
Here are common reasons your call center technology causes your agent to cry along with the solution that will put a smile on their face AND on the face of your customer:1. Too many steps in the system / multiple systems
As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, agents exert a lot of time and effort alt-tabbing their way between screens, copy-pasting information from one field to the next, exiting one application to open another – just to perform the most basic task. Instead of focusing on the customer, the agent is fixated on completing redundant and repetitive tasks, resulting in high average handling time, abundant human error and a very frustrated customer.
Put a smile on their face with automation: Tedious, repetitive data entry can be completely automated. For example, instead of copy-pasting information from one system to another, the performance support system can automatically enter the information across multiple systems. The PSS can also automatically enter relevant data based on the selections of other data that has been previously entered by the agent, i.e., open the customer view/screen on multiple systems automatically based on the agent's entry of the customer ID in the first system.2. Answers are buried deep in the application
Agents are time pressured to resolve complicated calls quickly and effectively, which isn't easy when answers are buried deep in the Knowledge Management or CRM systems.
Put a smile on their face with real-time guidance: The key to improved FCR is providing your agents with the relevant information at the right time in a manner that allows them to focus on the customer. Performance support provides real-time guidance that constantly monitors the agent's desktop activities and can be designed to display balloon tips that are relevant to the user’s current open and active application and window. These tips guide the agent on what to say to the customer, what questions to ask, troubleshooting, and can also include alerts for critical fields.
The PSS also analyzes the data on the customer and the customer's eligibility for possible promotions or sales campaigns while the call takes place, driving cross-sells and up-sells. Making this information available at the time of the call produces results in more focused pitches which can increase close rates and the average deal size.3. Changes in policies & regulations are not reflected in the application
Some industries, such as banking, health, and insurance have policies and regulations that require the agent to ask specific questions or provide important information. The questions and request for information is usually updated in the protocol/call scripts that the agent uses during the call, but not always called out in the application itself. As these regulations are constantly changing, agents struggle to remain up to date and enter the required information into the system.
Put a smile on their face with validation: Performance support systems can monitor and validate the data entry in critical fields or checkboxes. For example, if the agent enters the wrong information or forgets to enter/select a value (e.g. forgot to check a checkbox), a warning message pops up alerting the agent to make the correction.
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