How technology is making life difficult for call centre agents
They say a poor workman blames his tools.
But when it comes to customer experience, the wrong tools present major hurdles.
The fact is, you could have the best customer service team in the world but if that world-class team must rely on backwards and buggy technology, they still can’t deliver a good customer experience.
So, how important is technology to the customer experience?
Here’s a breakdown of how, for all their training, call centre agents are only as good as their tech.
The role of technology in customer service
The prevalence of technology in our lives has raised customer expectations.
We’re always connected to the internet, we’re always reachable.
And when service doesn’t match the expectation, we notice.
We have grown accustomed to instant gratification and constant availability.
In customer service, technology comprises the channels we connect on, from live chat software to social media.
It’s the data we store and analyse, allowing us to add the personal touch and improve our offering.
Crucially, technology makes up the tools that help manage it all, from our CRM systems to automation software.
Every part of customer service has a foundation peppered with technology. And when this foundation starts to rot, so too does the customer experience.
The agent experience
Even the most well-trained service agents are dependent on their tech.
So, when these tools are slow, restrictive, buggy or outdated, agents are at a major disadvantage.
In fact, technology is 88% more likely to influence agent experience than compensation.
And last year, agents’ technology woes were the most cited barrier to great customer experience. Indeed, when agent experience suffers, so too does the customer experience.
So, it’s clear. It doesn’t matter how amazing your agents are if their tech tools hold them back.
The problem with technology in customer service
A lack of system integration is a huge tech hurdle holding teams back.
Disparate programs force agents to spend time swapping between channels and tools.
Data ends up in siloes, and agents don’t get an adequate view of the customer. As a result, customers get longer wait times with less personalised service.
Reliance on slow legacy systems is another of the most common examples of poor tech tools that affect agents.
Legacy systems often run slower than updated programs and hardware.
The problem can also extend to a lack of useful tools. For example, specific service channels such as live chat or self-service.
Or, it might be an absence of supporting software that helps improve agent efficiency.
So, how can tech unlock the full abilities of our customer service agents?
Poor tech presents a hurdle between the agent and the customer.
Instead, we need to empower agents with technology.
So, system integration is a must. This means that your different programs and channels should be able to work together.
At the very least, every channel should integrate with your CRM. The goal is to make everything the customer service agent needs accessible within one channel.
Next, the programs, infrastructure and hardware must be up to date.
This does more than reduce the prevalence of disparate systems.
Up-to-date technology often runs faster and is more secure to boot.
So, you help your customer service agents and your IT security team.
You can also use technology to help your agents work more efficiently.
For instance, automation software is a powerful tool for customer service teams.
Teams can use automation to manage data entry into your CRM. Automation can route incoming calls and emails to the right team member.
Plus, with sentiment analysis, it can help teams gauge customer satisfaction.
With such tasks handled automatically, agents can spend more time interacting with customers.
Online self-service options, though counter-intuitive, also support efficiency from your service team.
Agents can apply their skills to customers with bigger requests and issues. Meanwhile, customers with a simple FAQ don’t distract from their time.
This reduces the wait times for customers that need agent help. It also improves the experience for customers with quick FAQs and easy problems.
After all, they don’t have to spend time talking to someone to solve their query.
Technology is an important tool for customer service teams.
When it’s left unmaintained or as an afterthought, it can present a barrier to great customer service.
However, it’s not a replacement for training, either.
Just as technology can hold back the best agents in the world, poorly trained agents aren’t going to create great customer service just because they have the best tech set up.
Both tech and training are core ingredients for providing a great customer experience.
There’s no room for shortcuts.
Ensuring great experiences
The tech that your team has at their disposal can make or break your offering when it comes to customer experience.
There are no two ways about it.
Backwards and buggy tech tools lead to a backwards and buggy service.
For all their training, agents are only as good as their tech allows them to be.