Some 26 years ago, I was a tech support representative working at a call center for a prominent software company. I started as a first-tier support agent, working primarily on consumer fax products before I moved up the ladder and became the international support liaison. I vividly remember my first few weeks onboarding. Each support agent had an assigned mentor, and mine was the toughest one in our group. I could not ask him for help unless I had systematically gone through all the possible questions and scenarios for each variable customer problem and exhausted all the information at my disposal.
In those days, this information mainly consisted of FAQs, knowledge base entries, and technical notes. I must admit, that I had one of the worst call times, or more commonly known today as average handle times (AHT). I attribute that to two reasons: first, I tended to get irate customers, many of whom were second or third-time callers, and second, I had to make sure that I had exhausted every possible resolution scenario before coming to my mentor.
Notably, my customers were irate because not only did they have to wait on the call queues for more than 45 minutes (sometimes an hour), but also because previous agents had simply told them to follow a set of instructions found in a technical note. The most common technical note (and the panacea to all software problems) was our infamous “sanitize and reinstall”.
My peers had AHTs of 12 minutes while mine were closer to 40 minutes. Why was there such a disparity? The reality was that I was spending quality time with my customers. I did not have the luxury or the heart to tell them to simply follow a set of instructions in a technical note. Instead, I was compelled to meticulously walk them through every step of the way until their software was back to normal and I had recovered all of their data. At the end of the calls, my customers were totally satisfied and would often ask me why the other agents did not do what I had done. And certainly, I would defend my peer’s position, but I really could not tell my customers that we were all about metrics and not the customer experience.
Today, call centers are more commonly referred to as contact centers. And in customer support, the customer experience is what is most important these days – not simply your support metrics. Contact centers have adopted a number of strategies and technologies to provide an optimized and enhanced customer experience, including advanced telephony technology, integrated CRM software, workforce optimization with quality and training support features, advanced speech recognition, voice recording, IVR, desktop activity tracking with real-time analytics, chatbots and artificial intelligence technology.
These new technologies can help customer support organizations in three key areas:
- Process automation capabilities help support agents to identify workflow step outliers, understand any underlying performance drivers, and improve workflow performance completion times, completion rates, incident outcome, and closure rates.
- Real-time agent guidance technology can help support agents deliver essential customer and process information within the specific transaction context. It can also help to automate repetitive, time-intensive tasks and provide guidance on the spot.
- Workflow and desktop measurement features helps support agents uncover deficiency issues such as undue customer effort, abandoned workflow steps, activity step timings, and unnecessary desktop application activity.
If we had such systems when I was a support agent, with the ability to measure desktop and workflow activities at a granular level, it would have given my entire team a tremendous advantage and would have drastically reduced our call queue waiting times.
However, many contact center organizations are still not taking advantage of these great technologies. Perhaps it’s because they have not been exposed to it. Or, maybe it’s too prohibitive. Whatever the reason, contact center organizations owe it to their agents and customers to consider these new technologies if they are truly serious about improving efficiencies, quality of service and increasing employee and customer satisfaction.
If you would like to learn more about how OpenText™ can help your contact center organization with best in class desktop analytics and agent guidance technology in our OpenText™ Qfiniti product suite, please visit our website.