To Evolve CX, Evolve Your AX
Contact centers that embrace a strategic focus on the customer experience (CX) will follow a different evolution path than those who stay the course with a conventional approach to customer service. The more modern form of evolution begins with understanding what defines CX and adapting the contact center to support that. This approach recognizes the need to provide agents with the right tools to do their job. Otherwise, the agent experience (AX) will be poor and CX will suffer as a result.
This modern evolution began when customers started interacting with entire organizations, not just the contact center. While agents are on the front lines for most of this, they generally only have visibility based on the contact center. Organizations can continue to evolve by providing agents with a 360-degree view of the customer journey, both from inside and outside the call center.
Here are two approaches that will help your AX keep up with your CX evolution.
Provide a Unified Desktop
Even if CX was driven entirely from the contact center, a unified desktop is critical for a good AX. Not only must agents manage multichannel communication with individual customers in real time, but they’re often managing multiple customers concurrently. Call center agents cannot be effective unless all of this is in front of them without having to switch between screens or applications.
Today’s CX takes things further as agents are often dealing with inquiries that originated from outside the contact center. The customer should have a seamless experience throughout their entire journey and shouldn’t know what is going on behind the scenes. This is where a unified desktop can make all the difference for both AX and CX.
An organization with a modern CX approach will have a solution that ties the front and back office together and supports all types of agents. Some agents will only be skilled using conventional channels like telephony or email while other agents will be more adept with digital channels. A different skill set is required for each set of channels so a singular AX approach will be unsuccessful.
With a unified desktop, agents will be able to seamlessly manage multiple channels. Equally important is the ability for agents to find and interact with employees from across the organization who can help in real time. This could be an account manager in sales, a brand ambassador in digital marketing, a billing supervisor or a customer service advisor in the back office.
Customers have many touchpoints with an organization. While many of them are outside the contact center, a unified desktop allows the agent to manage them all from one interface without missing a beat while the customer is on the line.
Provide Timely Customer Feedback
Most agent metrics are based on internal operations, where performance is assessed on efficiency more than effectiveness. External performance metrics for CX exist as well, such as Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS), but they pertain to the company or the brand rather than individual agents.
As such, agent recognition is built around optimizing operational performance rather than how a particular agent has impacted CX. Organizations need to understand what makes for a great AX and have appropriate mechanisms to support it.
In this context, AX evolution needs to go beyond internal performance metrics to include first-hand CX metrics from the customers themselves. This is not a new idea, but with such a wide range of customer touchpoints now, the feedback data can be much richer. There are two factors to consider in terms of technology to help drive that data. Both become accessible for contact centers as they evolve to a CX focus.
First is the growing adoption of digital channels – an essential component of CX amongst digital natives. Aside from providing call center agents with the communications tools preferred by these customers, many of these tools are conducive to providing real-time feedback. Social media channels are social by nature and a key part of the experience is “shares” and “likes”. The more positive the experience, the greater the engagement – and that is the fundamental currency that drives all social media platforms.
When call center agents use these channels for CX, there are many triggers and prompts for customers to rate their experience. This is valuable insight when adopting digital channels, serving as a customer-centric metric for AX.
Second would be the use of AI in your CCaaS platform. There are a multitude of use cases for AI and sentiment analysis can provide another source of customer-based feedback. Not only can this data provide the unspoken sentiment of customers towards the agent, but these AI applications can do so in real time, and at scale. It has never been possible for contact centers to collect real-time data about every interaction with every customer and every agent. Sentiment analysis will be an important step in your agent experience evolution, not just to help recognize agent performance but also to drive better customer experiences.