Peter Tetlow May 18th, 2020

Agent Experience: Challenges and opportunities


Coffee mug and smartphone on a table

Agent experience is one of the most critical subjects for any company offering customer experience (CX) expertise - such as Transcom. Our agents reflect the brand of our client so they need to be happy, friendly, and knowledgeable. Being engaged when at work means they will enjoy helping the customer and this translates into great CX. If our team are not engaged and are just watching the clock, waiting for their shift to end, then that will come across to the customer.

First then, what are the key challenges to creating a great agent experience? Here are a few of the key ones:

  • Knowledge Gaps: the reality is that by the time a customer reaches an agent today, they will have asked Google or Alexa for help first and checked any easy to locate FAQ. They will probably be frustrated that their research has not yielded easy answers so they need to feel they are speaking to an expert. If your agents don’t have strong domain knowledge in the area they are supporting then that’s going to lead to a poor CX and negative customer satisfaction.
  • Brand Image: if the agent behavior doesn’t match the brand image of the company they are supporting then that mismatch will be disconcerting for the customer. In-game chat support for a FIFA player will feel very different to the way an agent supporting a bank customer will behave and speak.
  • Training: without ongoing commitment to help agents learn and improve they will feel that they are not progressing. This leads to dissatisfaction and lower performance.
  • Reputation: Contact center jobs are not generally seen as prestigious and many people believe there is no career path.

There are the main challenges. Every individual has their own drivers and the reason people go to work is not just to be paid. Most people want to be challenged, to feel they are learning, and to feel useful - to contribute something. If a company is not offering this then the employee will almost certainly feel disengaged, even if they are satisfied with their salary.

We address these basic challenges for agent experience in several distinct ways:

  • Gamification: we can make work more challenging and fun by introducing targets and achievements, so it just feels more like a game. It may sound a little silly to people that have not experienced it, but once you are competing with your colleagues to improve the feedback from customers then it really does become more like a competition - and it’s fun.
  • Career Path: Contact centers today are about much more than just people on phones. Customer service is blending more and more with marketing and sales and there are many specialized technologies, such as AI, being introduced. All this creates a much more diverse path of career opportunities than you will find in many other jobs. You can expect many future CEOs will start out working in a contact center because there is no better way to learn about customers and CX.
  • Tracking the gap between CX and AX: tracking the agent and customer experience and monitoring if they are diverging allows managers to intervene as soon as any issues develop. 
  • Fun work environment: Some might argue that a fun environment is not essential, but I believe that it is important. People want to work in a comfortable space, but also in an environment that is fun and enjoyable. It makes a difference to the experience of being at work and that changes attitude and performance.

This is just a brief summary of some of the main challenges managers face when trying to improve agent experience. I indicated a few of the approaches that can be used to improve AX and I will elaborate more in my next article, where I plan to explore specific levers that be used.

Photo by Coffee Channel licensed under Creative Commons.

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