For brands and businesses seeking to navigate rising customer expectations over the past year, an interesting paradox has emerged. Today’s consumers now seek the gold-plated speed and convenience of the e-commerce world without sacrificing the human touch. This reflects the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers consumer survey.
This survey revealed the four most important factors in an exceptional experience are speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. Meanwhile, ask the people who are directly involved in running a contact center or any other customer service operation what customers really want from their favorite brands. They will say ‘more expanded channels’ (63%) and ‘more emotional empathy from agents’ (62%).
These double-edged customer expectations are highlighted in the challenges faced by those on the frontline. Seventy percent of contact agents say they are managing more calls than they did 18 months ago. This is thanks to a marked rise in the good old voice communication.
In fact, 1 in 3 agents say their biggest challenge is ‘too many calls’. Over the same period, 60% of agents say they are managing far more non-voice calls and that meeting rising customer expectations is a top challenge for the contact center (73%).
Most worryingly, all this is having a serious and detrimental impact on agent wellbeing. Stress puts a negative filter on just about every metric from agent satisfaction and engagement to the service those stressed agents provide. When 1 in 3 agents say they are considering leaving their jobs within the year, you know it is time for action.
Although agent stress is on the rise, there are thankfully ways to help your team. Follow these three important steps towards happier agents – and customers:
At first glance, fast, omnichannel service appears to be at odds with a knowledgeable, empathetic approach. In fact, the real barrier is complexity. By accepting it and recognizing that omnichannel speed and in-depth human connections actually share the same barriers within the contact center.
Both require greater unification of channels for a 360-degree agent view that delivers seamless CX. Both are also held back by insufficient or unsuccessful use of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This leaves clunky or disconnected systems that don’t collect accurate data about agent and customer behaviors.
Investing in greater technology enables and encourages frontline staff to deliver fast, seamless interactions. Our own research tells us that agents appreciate the impact of self-service, automation, and AI.
Rather than fear being replaced by robots, agents now welcome innovative tech as a means to free them from tedious tasks (40%). It also allows them to focus on more fulfilling and higher- value service that only experienced human agents can provide.
It’s clear that many contact centers need better, smarter technology to overcome incumbent barriers and enable forward-thinking agent and CX strategies. But surely, doesn’t adding more technology sound like more complexity and more burdens? The key is seeking technologies that resolve, rather than increase complexity.
Look for contact center solutions that meet three essential criteria for resolving complexity: easy, personalized, and smart. Easy to implement, learn, and use solutions should also integrate with existing core systems. Highly personalized, modern systems are built from the ground up.
These work best because they keep the agent experience and customer journey in mind. Finally, solutions must have analytic capabilities embedded in their DNA– not as an after-thought or as a series of bolt-on tools. It’s time to embrace doubled-edged customer expectations with a strategy that keeps both agents and customers happy.
In our next blogs, learn what we mean by the technology tug-of-war. Then use our 3-point plan to remove complexity in order to become a cloud-smart contact center. Check out the full report here: “Embracing double-edged customer expectations: Navigating the complexities of rising demands and digital-first customer experiences.”