The success of any B2C business is largely dependent on the performance and productivity of its agents, and yet, agent experience (AX) is an all-too-often overlooked facet of improving the customer journey. In order for your business to deliver high-quality customer service and achieve its goals, it’s essential to provide a positive agent experience, as without it, you could see high staff turnover, poor customer satisfaction, and develop a negative reputation with both employees and customers.
To avoid this, you need to look at numerous factors, such as job satisfaction, engagement, and the tools and resources available to agents to perform their job effectively. If you successfully create a positive agent experience, you’ll yield results in terms of improved customer satisfaction, increased productivity, and higher employee retention rates – but improving AX in an efficient way isn’t necessarily straightforward.
In this article, we’ll explain in detail how to overcome common challenges posed by AX, and explore ways in which you can empower agents by providing them with the tools, resources and support they need to excel in their roles – and deliver an exceptional customer experience as a result.
Understand Your Agents’ Needs
Understanding your agents’ needs means taking the time to listen to their feedback, concerns and ideas in order to better gauge how they’re feeling and what they need to be able to perform at their best. When agents feel heard and valued, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. In addition, addressing their needs and expectations means you can create a more positive work environment, boost team morale and increase productivity – all of which have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and experiences.
There are a few ways you can go about understanding what your agents need and how they feel, including:
- Conducting regular one-on-one meetings: Schedule regular meetings with each agent to discuss their performance, progress and feedback. Use this time to ask open-ended questions and actively listen to their responses.
- Using surveys: Surveys are a great way to gather anonymous feedback from your agents. Make sure to ask specific questions that will provide insights into their experiences, challenges and suggestions.
- Holding focus groups: Bring agents together in small groups to discuss specific topics or projects. This approach can help generate ideas, foster collaboration and identify areas for improvement on a wider team scale.
Once you’ve collated feedback from your agents, you need to take the time to analyse it so that you can begin to address any concerns raised. This may include:
- Looking for patterns: Look in detail at the feedback to identify common themes or patterns. For example, if several agents mention a lack of training, it may be time to invest in additional training resources.
- Prioritising issues: Determine which issues are most pressing and prioritise them accordingly. Consider the impact of each issue on agent performance and customer satisfaction in order to determine importance.
- Developing an action plan: Based on the feedback and analysis, develop an action plan to address the identified issues. Involve your agents in the plan so they know when to expect changes.
The best way to improve agent experience is to ask agents directly what they need and how they feel in their roles, and use that feedback to generate a targeted action plan.
Provide the Right Tools and Technology
Providing the right tools and technology is essential for any business looking to improve the performance of its call and contact agents. The right tools can help agents do their job more efficiently and effectively, allowing them to provide excellent customer service, leading to increased customer satisfaction and retention.
When choosing the right tools for your agents, it is important to consider their specific needs and the type of work they do. For example, if your agents primarily handle technical support inquiries, tools such as screen sharing or co-browsing may be beneficial. On the other hand, if your agents handle sales inquiries, tools such as customer data analytics software or a call tracking system may be more useful.
One example of a tool that can help agents across every B2C sector is a customer relationship management (CRM) system or CCaaS platform. Both can help agents keep track of customer interactions, preferences and history, allowing them to provide a more personalised and efficient service where they can answer customer queries quickly and accurately, at the first time of asking.
Soliciting feedback from your employees on their pain points, and the areas where they feel they need more support, can help you make the right choices when it comes to deciding which tech to provide agents with.
Invest in Training and Development
Investing in training and development is crucial for any business that wants to improve their agent satisfaction and retention rates. According to a Linkedin survey, 94% of people said they would be more inclined to stay at a company if there were more internal training opportunities available. Furthermore, the ATD found that companies that spend more on training yield 24% higher profit margins compared to those that don’t invest in training and development.
It’s likely that higher profits are linked to better job performance as a result of higher engagement. Engaged employees take 41% less sick days and have a 17% higher productivity rate, meaning if your support agents are engaged, they’ll be more inclined to provide a better, more stable service to your customers, which improves the CX as a consequence.
With this in mind, as an employer, it’s imperative that you allow agents to excel in their roles and provide outstanding customer experiences by improving their skills and knowledge, teaching them how to handle complex customer inquiries, informing them on how to resolve issues efficiently, and demonstrating how they can create positive relationships with customers.
To do this, consider implementing training programs that focus on enhancing agent knowledge and skills, such as:
- Product training: Agents should receive comprehensive training on your company’s products and services, including features, pricing and how they compare to competitors. This training will equip agents to provide accurate and useful information to customers in real time.
- Soft skills training: Soft skills include things like communication, empathy and active listening, all of which are critical for agents to establish a rapport with customers and resolve issues successfully. Training in these skills can help agents communicate more effectively and handle difficult customer interactions with ease and professionalism.
- Technical skills training: In today’s digital age, agents need to be adept at using technology tools such as chatbots, knowledge management systems, and CRM software. Training them to use these tools can help increase agent productivity by allowing them to work more efficiently and provide better service overall.
Training and development is ongoing, so make sure to regularly invest in training sessions to keep your agents up to date, and ensure all new agents undergo a comprehensive onboarding process. Consistent training is a core component of avoiding poor agent experience and improving employee engagement, which we’ve established is key when it comes to delivering an outstanding customer experience.
Foster a Positive and Supportive Culture
Creating a positive and supportive culture for agents can greatly improve their engagement and retention, resulting in better service for customers and higher satisfaction rates.
One way to foster a positive culture is to recognise and reward good performance. Agents who feel appreciated for their hard work are more likely to remain motivated and engaged. Recognition can take many forms, including verbal praise, bonuses or public recognition. This not only encourages good performance, but it also sets a positive example for other agents to follow and shows that you value your employees and appreciate their efforts.
Another way to promote a supportive culture is to encourage teamwork and collaboration. This can be achieved through team-building activities, such as group projects or social events, that help agents build strong relationships and support one another. Encouraging a supportive work environment can help agents feel more comfortable reaching out to their colleagues for help or guidance, which can ultimately improve the quality of service they provide to customers.
In addition to improving morale, fostering a positive culture can also improve agent engagement and retention. Agents who feel valued and supported are more likely to be invested in their work and the company’s mission. This can lead to higher job satisfaction rates and reduce the likelihood of them leaving, allowing you to retain highly skilled employees and provide an exemplary service to your customers.
Improving AX With Vizolution
If you’re looking to improve agent experience through the medium of supportive tech, we can help. We provide a myriad of tools that can be used to enhance your agent-assisted journeys, helping improve your ability to provide superior customer experiences. To find out more about how we can help you better your agent experience, please contact us.