Customer Service - An Agents Perspective

At the CCA Conference last week, I sat and listened to presentation after presentation describing how AI and Automation were the future of the Contact Centre Industry with numerous predictions of how much AI will reduce contact volume or how many humans will be replaced by machines. During one of those ‘very interesting’ presentations I started to ponder if there was any other industry that sometimes forgets about its most important asset –its people! All the talk about technology, AI, automation, Chat Bots and the like… sometimes we forget about the people we depend on day in day out to deliver exceptional service to our customers and skills we will need to equip them with in the future in the new world of customer service – that’s the real Leadership challenge!

It’s all about the people here at Kura and Inisoft; our Culture is our Business and our Vision is to be Unrivalled in Developing People. We have a clear focus on the development of people inside the business. With this different type of thinking we asked the CCA to conduct some research in the industry; we had previously commissioned research on what Customer Service Leaders had to say; now we’ve conducted a similar research from Advisors within the industry.

The findings were very interesting, and showed some clear disconnects from the leadership and the guys who are tasked to do the job – 42% of respondents cited their senior management never or very rarely came to the shop floor and spoke with them. Not surprisingly that over a third of advisors said that they felt morale in their contact centre was poor or very poor, with a third also saying they didn’t feel valued as an employee…That is worrying; we ask our people to have empathy with the customer so you can relate to their issue and help resolve it… making it feel real… do we practice what we preach at the leadership level?

Another quite shocking stat I came across was the number of systems we ask our people to deal with on any given transaction. The research uncovered that 57% of people use between 4 and 6 applications whereas 28% use between 7-10 applications. You can just imagine where your focus would be if you were using so many disparate systems whilst speaking to the customer!

Quite refreshingly when asked what advisors enjoy most about their job, two of the top five answers were, “Helping Customers” and the “Opportunity to Solve Problems”. We all do like the feeling when we’ve helped someone out, or solved an issue, it’s no different for our advisors; in my experience most advisors are passionate about helping and solving customer issues, sometimes they feel leaders don’t help them do that enough.

When asked what they least liked about their job, the top ranked answer was the focus on meeting targets – now we do love our targets and metrics in contact centres, we measure everything and anything! I don’t think it’s necessarily the focus on meeting targets, but as I described at the recent Engage Event in London when Leaders don’t spend enough time getting the basics right for their people including the right targets, it becomes hugely demotivating for people, I would hazard a guess that some of the respondents are living through the pain of targets not set correctly then the unhealthy focus of meeting those unachievable targets.

In summary, it’s clear from an advisor’s perspective; let’s get the basics right for them. Equip them with the skills they will need in the age of the digital customer and automation, let’s give them the tools to do the job, unify their systems, make technology do the hard work and let them focus on the customer and motivate our people by having stretching but achievable targets.

At Kura, our focus being our people helps us ensure we are meeting all these challenges by always bringing it back to our advisors, if it doesn’t work for our people or the customer, it’s not the right thing to do – a simple but challenging rule.

If you would like to read more regarding this topic, click here to download our latest infographic or register your interest in our research series with ContactBabel and the CCA on Customer Service – Leaders vs. Laggards.