Your contact center agents’ journey plays a critical role in customer experience

Often what should be obvious is not all that obvious

If we had to think through every possible scenario for every decision, we probably wouldn’t get much done in a day. While no decision is made with certainty, even with all the information available, often we pay dearly for our overconfidence and in our own abilities to make good things happen. This is no different in a contact center.

Country singer Eddie Rabbit (ironically born in Brooklyn, New York) penned his ninth number one single in 1981 with the smash song “Step by Step”. If only . . .

In 2017 the French state railway SNCF spent $15bn on a new fleet of trains. Unfortunately, the new trains were too wide for 1,300 station platforms across the country; a problem that will cost an estimated €50m to fix. It’s like ordering a big, new car without checking the width of your garage.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link

Decisions much like the game of Jenga start with the obvious. While it’s true in Jenga that the tower can fall with any piece, under most scenarios, the tower usually falls between 25 and 35 pulls. As the game proceeds, it’s not obvious which of the pieces are controling the tower’s stability. Each decision is more curial, each piece more relevant. The tower ultimately falls because there is no way to support the weight of the blocks.

Understand the Price vs. Cost

Changing Your Contact Center? It All Starts With Your Agents’ “Step by Step”A major retailer is so committed to Net Promotor Score or NPS as the guiding factor to improve corporate top and bottom-line, that no one will argue the “customer is the only sustainable value of any business.” Leadership has made it very clear that compensation, promotions, and status will be tied to the region, district and stores performance – only 9’s are acceptable. Sadly, the same retailer is unwilling to pay the cost associated with good customer service as competitive pressures have forced reduction in store hours, cut budgets, and employees asked to give more of themselves for less rewards.

In this case, the NPS score is irrelevant, as leadership has lost sight of the cost associated with successful customer service.

The Importance of Majoring in the Minors

The most basic elements of decision-making are the need for proper sequencing to make sure we really understand the “Why, What and How” we solve or add to a value proposition. Many of the greatest blunders can be traced to simple mistakes that often cost successful business models to falter. Recall the Mars lander that crashed into its surface due to a single calculation that was not converted from the metric system standard.

“Why” is often associated with a business plan. A good business plan has all the stakeholders involved and getting the frontline involved in the final plan. Most likely, the French state railway train conductors and engineers would have caught the problem immediately.

Call center agents represent the frontline of all business, and the wealth of knowledge that exists is often taken for granted. Generally speaking, agents just keep doing the same things over and over; they can be overlooked as minor players in the corporations’ success. However, these agents understand the “Why, What and How” to solve ongoing challenges.

With the advent of new forms of self-service, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), the kinds of contacts reaching contact center agents will be more complex, harder to solve, and more time consuming. So who better so ask what is required for success as a first step, than these front line ambassadors?

The Golden Opportunity

Contact center leaders have a golden opportunity to improve business performance, by understanding and shaping the agent journey, the same way they do their customer journeys. To bridge that gap, any new application regarding customer interactions should be reviewed with agents who interact the most deeply with your customers on a daily basis. Missing that opportunity can cost a business – and often does more harm to the brand than management realizes.

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Zack Taylor


Cisco Global Collaboration