Top Agent Experience (AX) Trends of 2023

As 2023 unfolds, a key theme for contact center leaders to watch is reinforcing the connection between customer experience (CX) and agent experience (AX). CX must always remain the primary focus for the contact center –this recent blog post identified two 2023 trends that will have a major impact on CX.

However, CX does not exist in a vacuum; when contact center agents have a good experience, the customer is bound to as well. The opposite is just as true, however, and that scenario needs to be minimized as much as possible. Not only do these bad experiences reflect poorly on the contact center, but they pose risk to the business in the form of lost customers, and lower share of wallet from the customers that do stay with you.

Technology has a key role to play, and as contact centers seek to modernize, they need to be thinking about improving both CX and AX. Each, though, will require separate approaches. This post examines two leading AX trends for contact center leaders to focus on.

AX Trend: AI-Driven Automation

As with many other types of jobs, agents spend too much time on manual, repetitive tasks, leaving them with less time to interact directly with customers. In an ideal world, agents would spend all of their time providing effective support directly to customers. Not only would that great AX translate into better CX, but agents would have better job satisfaction and turnover in the contact center would drop.

These are all outcomes that define success for contact centers. To achieve that, IT leaders need to consider what conditions and solutions need to be in place. This is where AI enters the conversation, especially for the purpose of improving AX. AI can easily be viewed as a silver bullet for all your challenges, but the best outcomes arise with clearly-defined use cases. For agent experience, the use case was stated above – to minimize time spent on repetitive, routine tasks. This is a great use case for AI, and is distinct from use cases that focus on.

A core characteristic of AI is the ability to keep improving over time, not just due to trial and error, but also as the data sets grow. Adoption and acceptance of AI is at a point now where contact centers will start seeing the benefits for this particular use case in 2023. AI can assist agents by automating workflows and processes, which is a tangible paint point in the contact center. By doing so, contact centers will streamline agent workflows and achieve a better AX.

The best approach for contact centers to take is to break down agent workflows, much like how you would map out the customer journey. This means looking at tasks before agents interact with customers, then during the interaction, and finally after the interaction. For example, intelligent call routing can divert routine inquiries to chatbots, real-time transcription ensures agents don’t have to take notes during the interaction, and post-call automated surveys gauge customer satisfaction and rate the agent’s performance. To varying degrees, these AI applications automate workflows, and ultimately, contribute to improving AX.

AX Trend: Intelligent Customer Journey Analytics

Another area where AI helps improve AX is customer journey mapping. In 2023, CX will become ever-more digital as 5G adoption grows and customer engagement becomes more virtual. The Metaverse hasn’t arrived yet, but there should be little doubt about the aspirations held by Big Tech leaders like Meta, Microsoft and Google. Regardless of when or if we get the Metaverse, the underlying idea is that the more digital our lives become, the more data we generate. With AI, businesses are capturing that data to understand their customers in ways they never could before.

That’s the big picture story for AI. To tie this to the agent experience, contact center leaders must connect the dots in a certain way. Many contact centers are still rooted in legacy models, where customer service is solely their domain, and their performance is assessed based on operational KPIs. This scenario is not well-aligned with market realities in 2023, and it won’t be so easy to connect those AX dots. A different mindset will be needed, and while not easy, this is where the payoff will be greatest.

To illustrate, consider how customer-centric businesses are utilizing AI. They have already pivoted to making CX their primary success driver and recognize the need to provide agents with the best tools possible to drive CX. The automation trend outlined above is one way of doing that with AI, but another involves taking a more holistic view of CX. With so many digital touchpoints along the entire customer journey, AI is the only way to harness it effectively.

This means tapping data from both inside and outside the contact center to get a 360-degree understanding of the customer. Only by drawing data from across the entire organization can agents provide intelligent, personalized, and empathetic forms of service. This is the essence of the omnichannel value proposition, and with AI, it can be more fully realized.

Not only can AI pull data from these various touchpoints at scale, but with analytics, it can be filtered for the specific needs of a customer, then served to agents in real-time. That’s the kind of capability that truly empowers agents to engage with customers on an informed basis. They are no longer just guessing or making assumptions. When you can leverage AI to provide that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to improve AX.

Learn how Upstream Works AI application integration capabilities improve agent experiences (AX) here.