Cameron Smith of Genesys discusses the influence of workforce management (WFM) tools on the customer experience and employee engagement.
Creating an amazing customer experience requires organisation, planning and setting up both the infrastructure and workforce to deliver extraordinary service.
It doesn’t happen by chance; you must cultivate the culture where great service is rewarded and remove all barriers to providing that service. And WFM tools play a major role in great customer experiences.
Imagine what the ideal customer experience is for a situation in which you need to reach out to a contact centre. Let’s say that it’s a support issue where something isn’t working as expected. You use the phone and your call is answered on the first ring.
The agent on the end of the line answers the phone cheerfully. He or she knows who you are, your purchase history and what product you have. Within a minute, they give you the advice needed to troubleshoot or resolve the issue — and are very knowledgeable about the problem.
After the call, the agent follows through on everything they’ve promised and acts with care and compassion toward your issue. You feel respected and look forward to the next chance to interact with them.
For the ideal scenario through a chat interaction, you experience the same level of care and compassion reflected in the language the agent uses in the chat — and they don’t require you to type a long elaborate story to resolve the problem. The whole interaction takes less than a minute and you didn’t have to look up any information.
In both cases, you also receive a post-interaction email with notes of the interaction just in case there was any misunderstanding — even though there wasn’t.
You walk away happy and satisfied but are completely oblivious to the intricate orchestration that had to be put into place for this type of experience. There’s a direct correlation between the ability of a company to organise and deploy its workforce and the satisfaction (and happiness) of its customers.
For this ideal interaction, the agent needed to be:
- Available to answer the call
- Knowledgeable in addressing the reason for the call
- Have the training to gain this knowledge
- Have the tools to answer your questions
- Follow up post-call with what they promised
- Be content in their work so that attitude would reflect to you
The Role of Workforce Management in Employee Happiness
John DiJulius, author of The Customer Service Revolution, notes: “Your customers will never be any happier than your employees.” And tools around WFM contribute to this employee happiness — and eventually create an ideal customer interaction.
Setting up agents for success and happiness happens long before they sit down at a desk to make or receive calls. It happens when they leave for work. It includes whether or not the agent had a say in when he or she started work, which days they can get off and when they can take breaks.
Employees who have a say around the basics of their work environment are more likely to feel empowered, rather than just showing up at a prescribed time because they’re worried about losing their job and income. They also can be more focused at work because they can work around family or social obligations. They’ll have a good workflow in their lives and won’t see work as an interruption.
From a business and workforce management perspective, considering employee preferences when setting up shifts and schedules requires you to have a good handle on historic call volumes, average handle times, queue times, first call resolution rates and even which types of calls are coming in. You don’t want employees who are incredibly happy working a particular shift only to have customers wait on hold because of a shortage of agents during other shifts.
The latest generation of workforce management tools can model call volumes and account for agent preferences. They let you see how adjusting schedules, or the number of agents, will affect call handling. They can look then look at trade-offs of having employees select their preferred shifts.
If we assume that people want to be productive in their work and that offering value to others produces a sense of worth, then it’s critical for companies to ensure that their contact centre agents have the knowledge to address or resolve customer issues. Agents don’t like passing on customers, and customers also don’t like being transferred from agent to agent.
Imparting knowledge at scale can be daunting; tools that can organise agent training can offload manual work required by a manager to assess and assign agents. The result is that an agent is more likely to be well trained and the customer happier that their issue has been resolved on the first call.
However, even the most knowledgeable agent encounters questions that he or she might not be able to answer. When that occurs, it’s important that agents can quickly access information, so they don’t frustrate customers and bear the brunt of their anguish. Agent tools that can surface information during a call mean much better experiences on calls and the higher likelihood of a first call resolution.
Lastly, for an ideal customer interaction, make sure agents can keep their word and follow up on any items discussed in the call. WFM tools that automate some of the work after the call reduce the likelihood of an agent forgetting to record pertinent information. And tools that automate the follow-up process with customers can be game changers for ensuring continuity of resolution across many agents.
Working at their preferred times, empowered with the knowledge to handle questions and with tools they need so that they can focus on their work, creates happier agents. And happier agents lead to fantastic customer experiences.