Whether the pandemic has changed customer behavior forever or just the past year remains to be seen. One thing is certain; however: customers these days are less loyal to brands and more fickle than ever before. Acquiring new customers is hard enough, but keeping them is another matter entirely. Mistakes have a very real effect on the bottom line — 80% of customers have stopped doing business with a company after a single negative customer experience.
In this environment, your customer-facing employees can’t afford a misstep. This is especially true for contact center agents. Their customer interactions are often emotionally charged and will be what customers remember about your business long after they’ve hung up the phone or clicked ‘Add to Cart.’
How do companies ensure their contact center agents act in the companies’ best interest and provide superior customer experiences? Training, coaching and encouraging behaviors that contribute to great CX are all strategies managers can employ to develop contact center agents’ soft skills. Such skills are critical for agents to have, and they need assistance to boost their engagement and productivity.
Giving Managers a Helping Hand
Your contact center agents are the drivers of increasing customer satisfaction and defusing negative emotions and experiences. The outcomes can be staggering — companies that focus on customer satisfaction are found to experience a $12 million increase in revenue for each point increase in net promoter score. Also, for every 1% decrease in negative word of mouth scores, companies could expect an additional $34 million in revenue.
The objectives are clear: increase customer satisfaction while decreasing negative sentiment. Yet managers aren’t always best positioned to influence agents’ soft skills to move the needle on customer satisfaction. This issue has become even more apparent with the pandemic and the distribution of contact center agents. Working from home or in a hybrid office situation (onsite a few days a week) makes it hard for managers to evaluate and coach soft skills as engagements happen.
Given these constraints, a technology solution is crucial, with so many contact center agents dispersed and managers not always able to observe, coach and guide behavior in the moment. A tech solution such as NICE Enlighten AI captures data, analyzes it and recommends actions to improve the customer experience. In today’s world, no one can absorb all customer and contact center employee interactions without assistance. Enlighten AI gives that assistance, capturing what customers and employees are saying and identifying possible issues and outcomes based on customer sentiment. This allows agents to adjust and improve in the moment, rather than after the fact.
Making the Business Case for AI
Remote work creates another business case for incorporating AI into contact center coaching and guidance. Supplementing regular manager conversations with automated processes engages and empowers employees to improve their own performance at their own pace — without having to wait until the next coaching session for those discussions or opportunities. Also, metrics dashboards give managers visibility into customer sentiment as well as the agent behaviors that influenced those sentiments. The dashboards provide analysis of 100% of the interactions, rather than a small sample selected at random.
With all this, it’s no wonder that AI is the No. 1 technology CX executives plan to adopt in the coming years. In the coming year there will be many discussions about whether contact center employees will return to a central office, continue to work remotely or work in a hybrid solution. Whatever the outcome, contact center agents will need more than just manager oversight to help them build their soft skills and deliver superior customer experiences. They’ll need technology that can provide positive reinforcement and encourage them to develop and improve at their own pace.
Positive customer satisfaction is critical for brands to stay profitable, especially as customer loyalty fluctuates. The business benefits of improving customer experience include higher rates of customer retention and increased revenue. But contact center agents can’t influence customer satisfaction without help and managers can’t always be there. In those cases, managers should use technology to build contact center agents up, boost their soft skills and encourage the behaviors that positively affect customers. When used to aid (rather than replace) employees, technology like Enlighten AI can boost employee performance and move the needle on customer satisfaction.
Learn how NICE can help improve your customer experiences at www.nice.com/analytics.