When a customer contacts your call center, they expect answers to their questions and solutions for their problems. They don’t expect to find themselves on hold for a long time or talking to an agent not equipped to answer their questions. In a world where customer experience is more important than ever, call centers must empower their agents to exceed customer expectations at every touch point.
Empowering agents doesn’t mean you blindly hand over the reins. Instead, call centers should establish best practices that encourage and guide agents and managers to make crucial decisions to benefit the customer and your business. Since every agent has a different amount of knowledge, experience, and type of personality, it is hard for call centers to implement best practices that work successfully for every agent every time. The key is to be flexible and strive for consistency in the areas that have the highest impact to the business.
Best Practices to Empower Call Center Agents
1. Capture every conversation
These days, contact centers field more than just phone calls. It is important that you record and capture every conversation across multiple touch points such as e-mail, LIVE chat, text messages and social in addition to phone calls.
With the right speech analytics software, call centers can automatically capture and transcribe every conversation into one database. You can review the calls for keywords or phrases, trends, and automatically score conversations to determine if performance standards are met. Call center managers have access to all of the data captured and can create reports, research call types, and identify performance issues with little effort.
2. Personalize training programs
Not every call center agent will need the same training or education as the agent who sits next to them. Using the data captured by speech analytics software, managers can personalize training programs based on a particular agent’s specific need. Training in the right areas increases agent performance by giving them the knowledge they need to make better decisions in the moment.
3. Make knowledge accessible
Even if a call center agent is comfortable making crucial decisions, it is nearly impossible to do if they can’t access or find client data or information. Other agents won’t always be available to help with their questions. By utilizing the right analytics software with APIs, agents can access information from other systems and databases to better understand the client and make the right decisions.
4. Provide real-time performance feedback
One of the most significant challenges in a call center is offering feedback to agents promptly so they can adjust how they handle conversations with customers. In the past, call centers had to produce their own scorecards based on manually reviewing a handful of recorded calls. The problem with this approach is that it didn’t provide an accurate review of the agent’s performance and the delay didn’t benefit the call center or the customer.
By purchasing an interaction analytics platform that includes automated scoring, call centers can identify metrics they want to grade agents on, assign weights to different categories, and the system scores every call. With real-time analytics, agents receive next best action guidance while on the call so that they can adjust during the conversation. When agents get assistance without having to go to a supervisor they feel more confident in deciding on their own and customers are happier in the process.
5. Give agents permission
You may want call center agents to make decisions without placing a customer on hold to hunt down their supervisor, but have you created a culture that encourages those actions? Building a culture around empowering agents to make decisions is crucial.
Start by giving them permission to make decisions, and realize that if this is a new concept, you will need to define what types of decisions they can make. Set guidelines for certain request types or define a financial threshold they can approve to make customers happy. They won’t know it is okay to take the initiative unless you tell them it is.
6. Accept their decisions
Since nobody wants to feel micromanaged, it is even more important that you accept the decisions they make instead of reprimanding them if it is different than the decision you would have made. Use these decisions as a learning moment and teach call center agents about other options for handling similar situations in the future. If a manager shows disappointment or tells an agent, they made a wrong decision; it will scare them and others from feeling empowered on the next call.
Providing a positive customer experience and exceptional customer service drive long-term success. Call center agents are the frontline of your business and need certain tools to make sure customers are satisfied when they contact you. Use these best practices as a guide for empowering your agents, and watch their performance and your bottom line improve as a result.
Start empowering your agents today!