Waiting for That Perfect Someone to Come Along? So Are Your Customers.

I'm sure you can recall when and where you met your spouseyour perfect match. Or maybe you're still looking for that perfect someone who you imagine will complement who you are, share a similar perspective, and be able to respond to your needs and wants.

Well, you''re not alone. Today's contact centers are also looking to pair you with Mr./Mrs. Right, that is, the right agent to manage each and every customer interaction. But how can organizations know which service agent best matches a specific customer, especially when contact center operations extend across states and borders with thousands of employees and millions of customers?

This is where adaptive workforce optimization (WFO) plays matchmaker.

Customer service agents are central in driving the perfect customer experience. Recent studies have found that 42 percent of customers switch companies because they're put off by rude or unhelpful staff, and another 29 percent switch because they are annoyed by a lack of staff knowledge. Happy, well-trained staff is key to providing better customer experiences; in fact, our most recent survey found that 68 percent of customers with increased loyalty attribute it to representatives who were kind and/or helpful. Contact centers must also leverage tools and technology to get to know each employee's strengths and tailor the agent experience accordingly to drive engagement and improve the performance of their workforce. To do so, Adaptive WFO builds comprehensive agent profiles, or personas, based on existing data, such as customer satisfaction scores, average handle time, training and evaluation history, and tenure. These agent personas aren't dissimilar from online dating profiles. They help companies really get to know where their employees excel, allowing them to successfully pair the right agent with the right customer during every interaction.

The profiles take into account behavioral characteristics, like whether the agent performs better in the mornings or evenings, what their strengths and weaknesses are when addressing customer queries, and whether the tone of their voice or the way they interact with customers is polite or abrupt. Using that information can produce better call outcomes. If a customer wants to return a product, customers will automatically be routed to an employee adept at speeding the process and making sure customers are satisfied. Or if a customer has a technical issue, agents can direct the call to a rep with strong product knowledge and a mind for troubleshooting.

Organizations can also use employee profiles to manage operations more effectively when it comes to recruiting, onboarding, shift scheduling, coaching, and incentives.

Companies can more thoughtfully schedule agents so each shift is staffed by agents who are well-rounded in their skills and abilities to handle call volumes across a number of issues. When hiring, organizatiosn can automatically generate desired agent profiles based on the existing profiles of successful agents. Not only is this a major time saver, since the company won't have to build these profiles manually, but it will ensure that contact center employees are truly prepared to manage the incoming queries from customers. The speed and focus of this method is especially helpful during the busy holiday season.

Consider, as well, the ability of companies to deliver tailored coaching and real-time guidance based on the identified weaknesses of specific agents. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, companies can provide personalized coaching to shorten learning curves, improve motivation, and ultimately offer better, more knowledgeable service to customers.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the persona-based approach to employee engagement is that it is dynamic and continuously evolving. That means that as agent skills improve, or their scheduling preferences change, or company goals and onboarding procedures shift, agent personas will be updated accordingly. Similarly, customer needs and preferences will change over time, just as factors on a dating site change. Organizations that adapt will be able to match the right agent with the right customer every time.

Matthew Storm is head of marketing for the Americas at NICE Systems.