Saturday, September 19, 2020

Align Your Contact Center with Your CX Goals: Part 3 – Agent Productivity

Rachel Anderson
February 03, 2020

5 minute read

In a recent webinar series, Daniel Foppen of Oracle’s CX Service Strategy along with 4 leading service professionals from BISSELL, Pier 1 Imports, Smiths Medical, and Elsevier discuss how implementing advanced contact center functionality improved experiences and productivity at their respective contact centers.

In the third and final part of this discussion, the panel examines the benefits of a unified agent desktop and how to increase agent productivity (while also improving the agent experience).

Read highlights below from the following customer experience experts:

  • Nannette Bromley, Senior IT Project Manager, BISSELL
  • Laurie Simpter, Senior Manager, Customer Relations, Pier 1 Imports
  • Gary Harris, Director Customer Services, Smiths Medical
  • Marc Grant, CX Software Engineering Manager, Elsevier

You can also check out the full panel webinar.

What benefits have you seen from a unified agent desktop?

[Gary Harris] In the past, it was not uncommon for our agents to have 15 to 20 applications open on their desktop. Between processing orders, checking on tracking information, our knowledge information was in a SharePoint site; we were using email in a lot of cases to communicate back and forth.

After implementation, that’s been reduced to 3 or 4. Our agents now, with the exception of 2 of their major job tasks, are within the unified desktop—and we have a roadmap to bring those last 2 in. The knowledge base has been a huge win for us, because some of the departments that went on to the product was our complaints team and our service and repair team and customer service. In the past, if a customer would call for multiple reasons—let’s say they called to place an order, and then they wanted to check on the status of something that was in our repair facility—we had to transfer that because our customer service reps didn’t have that insight.

After we implemented, we can now see all interaction history for all 3 of those departments. And if we don’t necessarily know how to answer the question, we have a knowledge base to search. And if we still can’t answer the question, the last resort is to transfer the customer. So, it’s been a huge win for us in just bringing those down from 15 to 20 applications, to 3 to 4.

[Nannette Bromley] At BISSELL, the consumer care team believes it is important to serve the consumer for reasons beyond just support, knowledge, product registration, or incident reporting. They needed to be able to integrate with company websites, place orders, process return authorizations, and even take a payment. We do DRTV infomercials and we have 4- and 5-payment plans. We need to be able to make sure we can take care of those.

Or maybe an agent needs to process a refund, print labels, provide order return history coming from our Oracle EBS system, or give an order status and tracking statuses for FedEx, let’s say. Our agents are able to truly help the consumer when they call. The Oracle Service Cloud open platform enables features to be developed and added into the agent workspaces and provide integrations to many of BISSELL’s systems. Like everyone, our goal is to have a great consumer experience.

How do you increase agent productivity and improve agent experience?

[Laurie Simpter] I am very passionate about our agent experience. I think there’s a direct correlation between the agent experience and the customer experience. There’s so much buzz in the industry about providing our customers with that seamless and effortless customer experience, but if your agents don’t experience that, they can’t provide it to the customers, and that’s really what we were finding at Pier 1.

We stepped back a bit and tried to figure out, “How do we provide our agents with a better experience?” And as I shared before, a lot of our issues were centered around technology challenges. There were a lot of systems, a lot of siloed information. As we were able to remove those obstacles with a more unified solution, our agents were able to focus less on navigating through the technology and where they were going to find the information, they started focusing more on the customer and creating a great experience for the customer. Letting them focus more on that interaction, and less about the technology, helped improve the agent experience.

We also were able to shift our new hire training, as it was heavily focused on system navigation, and we had a lot of turnover in those first two weeks of new hire training because people who are not technology-savvy were struggling to get through new hire training. Once our agents got on the phones, they had been focusing 100% on technology and not as much on that interaction with the customer. So, the ramp-up time to get them up to speed was very long and drawn out.

Now, with the Oracle solution, we have been able to shift what that new hire training looks like. We’re training on more soft skills, so when our agents come out of new hire training, the navigation through the systems is very easy and intuitive. They are focusing on interactions with the customer, they are getting up to speed a lot quicker, they are happier, they feel more empowered, and as a result, our turnover has dropped by over 50%, and we have seen our QA scores as a department improve from an average in the upper 70s to now, averages in the low 90s. Happier agents translate directly to a much better customer experience.

[Marc Grant] As Laurie said, if the agents aren’t happy and aren’t able to do their job properly, that translates to the customer experience. So, we’re also focused on making improvements that will benefit the agents. They’re the people actually using the system, they’re on the front lines, so it’s important.

We do that by sending out surveys to agents to find out what paint points are, or ask specific questions. We try to sit with users when we can, as often as possible, and I’ve recently done that in our Philippines offices. It’s been useful, and flags things you’ve never, ever thought of that are a problem that you can fix pretty easily.

It’s given us a wealth of insight. We’ve been looking at which fields are made mandatory, for example. When an agent’s working on a phone call, they want to send a customer an email, let’s say with a link, then mandatory fields interrupt their workflow. Once we observed that we’ve been looking at ways to speed that up.

We also found that each agent had a draft of personal responses written in Word documents, so we’ve also looked at how to improve this process, without taking away their individuality, but how to add standard text responses to help them while they’re on the phone to the customer, to be able to seamlessly move through that experience.

We’ve looked at ways to improve productivity such as incidents. Load time on incidents, even a few seconds, whatever it is, if you find that that incident’s not something helpful, they’ve wasted time. Agents were asking for something like an outlook preview to cut down on unnecessarily loading the incident.

So, we built it. It took a while to do, but we’ve linked some reports together, and they can now click on an incident to see a preview, including some thread data of what that’s about, and move on if that’s not appropriate for them. Just that 5 seconds per incident, times 20 a day, times 1,400 agents, I can’t do the math in my head, but it speaks for itself.

That’s just a few examples of what we’ve done and how we’ve tried to improve the agent experience.

Want to learn more? Watch the full panel webinar.

More articles in this series:

Align Your Contact Center with Your CX Goals: Part 1 – The Right Technology

Align Your Contact Center with Your CX Goals: Part 2 – Omnichannel Service

Rachel Anderson
Rachel Anderson is passionate about customer experience, snacks, and creating a farm in her backyard. Rachel is a Campaign Marketing Manager for Oracle CX with 10 years of experience in the industry. by Oracle is the destination for professionals who are building the next generation of customer experience. Here, you can find breaking news, in-depth analyses, expert insights, and useful tools that will empower you to think and work progressively.