When a customer contacts
customer service, whatever channel they use or problem they have,
they want fast answers. Most expect “now” service within 5 minutes
of making contact online and say that valuing their time is the most
important thing a company can do to provide good customer
Companies struggle to balance providing rapid answers
with the need to ensure their customer service agents are as
productive as possible. While agents are at work, it is critical to
maximize their time and skill sets, so they can deliver optimal
service to as many customers as possible, as fast as possible.
Sounds easy, right?
Not so fast. Great customer service means arming agents
with the right technology and ensuring they have access to the right
information to help them help your customers…as quickly as
So how do you make your agents faster and more
efficient? Let’s take a look at three opportunities to help increase
the speed and efficiency of your customer service operations.
Improve the equipment
First, take a hard look at the
technology that agents use on a day to day basis. It starts with
some basics. How many systems or screens is an agent required to
use? If they have to refer to >1 system or multiple screens to
get to the information they need to solve a typical customer issue
at hand, this is not good. Especially when customers expect the
agent to be equipped with complete information, including their
contact and product data to service information and history.
If customer information is in one system, product information on
another screen, company and departmental collaboration in a separate
system another, you are left with “a swivel chair” problem. Instead
of an end-to-end experience that integrates customer service with
the rest of the organization, each agent is left to perform “swivel
chair” integration by moving their chair as they go from screen to
screen or system to system. They are often required to copy and
paste information from one screen or system to another—not for data
entry, but just to get to the information they need to solve the
problem at hand. This slows agent response and increases customer
Finally, how well does the customer service
management system help the agent manage their work effectively? Can
they easily manage multiple cases or customers? Oftentimes systems
are not optimized for agent work, requiring a lot of effort and time
to navigate to the right information.
Inspect the roadway
Next, it’s important to examine
the overall effects of new technologies. Many organizations have
introduced chatbots in an effort to give customers quick answers to
simple, routine questions while relieving agents from answering
recurring questions. Sixty-nine
percent of customers use them for this purpose. Research shows
that chatbots can answer 80%
of routine questions , speeding response times.
happens when the chatbot can’t answer the customer’s question?
Typically, the customer is transferred to an agent. In these
instances, technology needs to give the agent what they need to
solve the problem. The detailed chat interaction is a critical part
of this service history. Arming agents with prior chat interactions
helps ensure that the customer’s request doesn’t hit a brick
Provide pure power
“Knowledge is power,” said Sir
Francis Bacon. Once you’ve given agents what they need to be faster
and more efficient, how do you empower agents to keep pace with
ever-changing technology, product, and service environments?
As automation and AI increasingly take on common
customer requests, agents are left handling the more challenging
cases. In order to do that effectively, they need the ability to
access knowledge in every area of their company.
The key is
to provide agents with seamless, contextual, automatic search that
accesses information and answers faster by working across multiple
sources such as knowledge base articles, answers in online community
forums, and other sources.
What if the issue is brand new and
affects multiple customers? Given the pace of business today, it’s
critical to ensure your technology can assist your agents by
proactively matching and providing information on known issues. As
an agent handles a case, the system should be able to advise the
agent as to whether similar cases are happening with other customers
Machine learning and other emerging tech can
help surface similar incidents and problems related to product
families or major outages. This keeps the agent in the know as
conditions change and arms them with the very latest in information,
so they can better serve their customer.
And when agents
solve those new problems, make it easy for them to share. As cases
are closed, you should simplify the process of turning solutions
into knowledge articles. Make it simple to submit answers to
knowledge editors using workflow so the solution can be edited and
published for other agents and customers to benefit from.
Shift into high gear
Your customer service agents play
a huge role in delivering great customer experiences. Their work is
hugely important. The latest
- 26% of customers will stop
purchasing from a company after a single bad experience
- 92% will stop after three or fewer bad experiences
Don’t be one of the companies left by the side of the road. Give
your agents the technology they need and keep them updated with the
latest information. You’ll transform their ability to provide
customers with satisfying and fast answers to their issues. And if
you can do that, your customers are far more likely to keep coming