Time is the key variable in improving the customer experience. But how do you free up agents' time?
The employee experience echoes the customer experience
The concept of customer experience is nowadays a must within companies. The notion of employee experience has developed in response to this concept and postulates that the quality of a company's relationship with its customers is intimately linked to the quality of the relationship it maintains with its employees. According to ParlonsRH's Employee Experience Barometer 2018, nearly 71% of companies consider this area to be strategic.
This employee experience is even more important in a company's contact centers, which are responsible for responding to the many and varied demands of customers. Indeed, a call center agent who is responsible for responding to customer issues can be much more effective and generate much greater satisfaction if he or she has a good experience.
Ideally, companies should therefore work on the quality of the employee experience as they do to satisfy customer requirements. The reality is that in 2018, only 27% of companies say they are actively working to improve the employee experience.
The asymmetry of attention to call center agents
The quality of the customer experience is directly linked to the support they receive throughout their journey; to solve a problem, request a service, obtain information. This support is provided by the call center agent, who is sometimes seen as a simple source of costs to be reduced as much as possible. The consequences are multiple: the SP2C 2018 study conducted by Ernst & Young reveals that a telephone advisor spends 75% of his time performing support tasks and only 6% of his time building customer loyalty. According to the same study, this telephone advisor has a 20% chance of leaving the company less than a year after taking up the position.
In the end, it is the customers who suffer. Who hasn't already waited several minutes to get an advisor on the phone? Who hasn't ever found themselves faced with a telephone advisor who is in a hurry and not very flexible about the solutions he or she can provide? A survey carried out by OpinionWay in 2017 revealed that 70% of clients feel they are being swept from one messaging service to another, with queue times that can exceed 15 minutes during rush hour!
Contact centers, and more specifically call center agents, should no longer be considered as cost centers whose mission is to handle the maximum number of requests. Their mission must be refocused on customer satisfaction and strengthening the company's brand image. To achieve this, telephone advisers should adopt more personalized, honest, authentic postures and be more attentive to customers in order to exceed their expectations. In order to offer this optimal client experience, it is essential to involve the telephone advisors in this process by offering them the same privileges, based on a principle of symmetry of attention. With a successful employee experience, motivation and quality of work are increased tenfold to meet the company's productivity and performance challenges.
If this may seem obvious, why don't all companies adopt such an approach? What challenges do they still need to take up in order to re-establish a symmetry of attention between their customers and their employees?
Presumably, the problem lies in the growing difficulty of reconciling budget restrictions with increased contact flows. The consequences of this are directly felt by telecom advisors, who, too few in number, are forced to adopt robotic postures to deal with the maximum number of requests. Moreover, 95% of them feel that their work is nervously tiring, according to a study relayed by the consulting firm SIA Partners.
Artificial intelligence to free up the time of telephone advisers
Time is therefore the cornerstone of any effort to improve the work environment and productivity of contact centre agents. By having more time, contact centre agents can focus more on processing customer requests and devote themselves to their primary mission: delivering an exceptional experience!
So how do you save time? What tools and methods exist today to relieve agents of monotonous, routine tasks with no real added value?
The last few years have seen the emergence of a large number of digital tools to automate simple management acts within contact centers, i.e. Robotic Process Automation. We are now witnessing the development of artificial intelligence technologies and solutions that automate the processing of customer requests on their preferred communication channel: the telephone!
These new solutions, commonly known as "voice agents", can take a customer call and converse in natural language in order to qualify their request, identify their needs, direct them to the right agent, or even fully process their request by providing them with personalized answers. In fact, the automation rate can reach 60% on average, and over 80% in some cases.
By automating the processing of simple and routine calls, these technologies have a double impact: on the one hand, they allow significant time savings by freeing up thousands of hours of call processing time, and on the other hand, they allow the value of the work of the telephone advisers to be enhanced so that they can concentrate on their core business. It's a virtuous loop with multiple impacts and benefits: time savings, money savings, lower turnover, improved customer satisfaction, better customer retention, increased revenues, etc.
For a harmonized client-collaborator relationship
With the development and democratization of artificial intelligence solutions for customer relations, the role of the customer service representative, and more generally that of the human being, is at the center of companies' concerns. In order to reconcile the stakes of productivity with the challenges of improving the customer experience, it is crucial for these companies to make their employees aware of the importance of their role and to enhance the value of their activities.
By delegating the handling of simple and routine calls to an artificial intelligence solution, i.e. voice agents, companies can now offer their customers immediate and qualitative answers, while positioning the expertise of their telephone agents on more complex and more rewarding interactions.
Artificial intelligence therefore offers great prospects by harmonizing in an unprecedented way the relationship between the two pillars of a company: its customers and its employees.