Scheduling Helps Agents Build Better Call Center Experiences
Technology is critical to run a good contact center. If agents can’t find the answers they need to help customers, they’re going to offer bad service. If customers are waiting too long in queue – often the result of poor call center scheduling – it doesn’t matter what the quality of the call might be. If agents can’t move across communications channels when a customer escalates from a chat to a phone call, for example, the customer will become frustrated.
That said, sometimes even the best-equipped contact center in the world won’t get the customer experience right if agents don’t have the skills they need to offer a motivated and empathetic attitude toward helping the customer.
In a recent article for the Taylor Research Group, Bruce Lebowitz wrote that today the focus of a contact center is on the technology and environment rather than the customer experience.
“Working with a healthcare company with a horrible make-shift CRM, a poor virtual call center technology provider and a fairly limited ability to integrate channels, I discovered a company with very happy customers,” he wrote. “The simple ingredient that made the callers happy was that the care agents really cared. As customers were calling to schedule MRIs, the agents never failed to wish them well or express concern for them. Conversations were personal without being invasive. The simple act of caring made up for the multitude of difficulties in the systems.”
These customers didn’t mind minor inconveniences caused by older technology since the agents made up for technology shortfalls with caring attitudes and competence. Unfortunately, as Lebowtiz notes, you can’t train people to care. You CAN, however, look for empathy and humanity in your prospective agents. (It’s pretty easy to tell during the hiring process if someone is a “people person” or not).
“We had to adjust our recruiting criteria to find people who have lived a life filled with caring,” he wrote. “We looked at volunteer experience…we looked at family situations. We invited personal conversations in our recruiting process to better understand the candidate as person and not just his/her professional experience.”
It’s also important to put the caring people onto calls or other communications where their skills will do the best. Escalated calls are one place that their people skills might be needed, as well as calls to cancel service or return products. A good contact center scheduling solution can help ensure that the right agents are on the phone with the right customers. It can also help ensure that agents have enough time to truly help customers rather than rush them off the phone to meet some arbitrary call length metric.
“While we understand that technology and metrics and environment are all important factors in a contact center, the customer’s experience is paramount and when that experience is delivered by a human being who really cares, many of the other variables in a call center fade away,” wrote Lebowitz.
Edited by Alicia Young