Google. Amazon. Netflix. These and other companies are fundamentally changing how customers investigate, purchase, and use various products and services, along with expectations for effective support. As the time from an event to an action continues to compress (e.g., ordering a movie, searching for directions, etc.), customer expectations continue to grow. One area where this is very noticeable is in customer service. Customers have little tolerance for waiting, errors, and poor service, and the implications can be devastating for companies unprepared. A recent report revealed that 76 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.
To respond to this challenge and more effectively handle increasingly demanding customers, many companies are beginning to use real-time data, predictive analytics, and guided responses. By informing contact center agents about their performance or by alerting them to issues that are emerging in real time, companies can improve responsiveness and service delivered to customers. Managers can manage more effectively when they know, right away, how individuals, teams, or groups are performing versus waiting for outdated reports and yesterday’s information.
Monitoring and Managing Agent Performance
Are agents spending too much time on a call? Are customers on hold for too long? With real-time data, managers can help agents stay on track with their performance goals and improve service delivery.
Real-time data about calls in queue, average wait time, etc., helps managers and agents identify issues immediately and shortens response time. This can positively impact customer experience and lead to greater satisfaction. Managers can review and adjust agent activity as needed, leading to better service and productivity. For example, by using real-time metrics, a manager might see that one agent is falling behind in answering calls while another is excelling. This type of situation could be addressed immediately and, as a result, positively impact service levels.
Another practice that uses real-time information to enhance agent performance is gamification. Gamification introduces useful aspects of competition, rankings, and challenges to motivate employees to improve performance. Digital signage and other communication tools can be used to show how agents or teams are doing versus one another and against key performance goals. As an added benefit, game-based motivation improves agents' work experience by increasing engagement and interaction with colleagues. This leads to higher retention rates, which has a positive impact on the company's bottom line, and ultimately, the customer experience.
Building a Culture of Productivity
While real-time data can dramatically alter a company's ability to serve customers, it has limited value if employees do not embrace why, when, and how it will be used. There are countless examples of companies that invested in technology, real-time reporting, and other tools but failed to capture meaningful improvements in agent productivity and service. A common lesson learned is the importance of including frontline employees and supervisors in discussions about why, when, and how real-time information will be used.
What are the new expectations for agents? What information will supervisors monitor and act on? What should happen when issues are identified? Who should be involved? At first, the answers might seem obvious, but as companies embrace real-time metrics, they undoubtedly find ways to more effectively drive performance and improve service to customers. This might require behavior change, and companies would be wise to attend to this as real-time information is put into place.
Anticipating Customers' Needs
Due to ever-evolving technological advances, companies can now quickly adapt to and even predict customer demands. While analytics and machine learning become more sophisticated, the core of these advancements—capturing and communicating real-time metrics—will continue to drive product innovation and in turn, customer service. Agents can capitalize on real-time analyses of customer interactions and behavior by using this information to guide their responses, improving both efficiency and customer service.
As the average end-to-end time of customer interactions continues to shorten and inevitably, customer expectations heighten, real-time metrics and communication are critical. To best serve customers, companies need an ongoing auditing process to ensure they're communicating with agents effectively. Are they providing agents with real-time feedback so they can adjust to customer needs? Is there a communication solution implemented that guarantees the right employees have the right information when and where they need it?
Customers are going to share their brand experiences, both positive and negative, so concluding customer calls with happy customers means they are more likely to not only refer their friends but become brand advocates and repeat customers, which has a positive correlation with the bottom line.
Though the pace of business will undoubtedly continue to accelerate, companies can get ahead and stay ahead of increasing customer demands by taking advantage of real-time metrics.
Steve Chang is senior vice president of strategy and solutions at RMG Networks.