Characteristics of Successful Customer Service Agents and How to Develop Them – Part Two

customer support best practices

Numerous variables contribute to the success of contact center agents. The fun of working in contact centers is largely due to the dynamic environments that exist within; they are always changing and evolving. At Telecom, Inc., we navigate change by implementing customer support best practices that have been proven to succeed, regardless of the environment or circumstance. In this article, we continue to offer the key preparation and planning steps we take to ensure productive agents, which in turn ensures happy customers and successful programs.

Application of QA Prompted Feedback

The quality assurance process that evaluates the quality of customer support, is critical for both contact centers and clients. QA efforts are also instrumental in uncovering ways to impact production results. It is incumbent on management to effectively convey the value that QA feedback offers, and agents should embrace every opportunity to become more effective by applying techniques offered in training sessions.

Quality assurance feedback has the potential to be misunderstood and viewed as a mechanism for criticism. Employers must make sure to establish the proper perception and understanding of the positive elements of QA feedback, from day one. Don’t forget to include a quality assurance overview as part of your new employee orientation, incorporate an introduction to the company’s QA process and the benefits of embracing feedback.

Share your QA report card with new staff as a group, as agents will be more inclined to embrace the process and not feel singled-out, as might be the case if discussed individually. A good practice is to establish cause-and-effect thinking when discussing the value of QA observations. Provide case studies with before and after results from current agents who effectively applied remedial training recommendations prompted by QA analysis.

Efficiency in Access and Application of Knowledge Base Content

Publish helpful content, such as FAQs/responses and other knowledge-based materials, to aid your staff in their efforts, and train on both access and application of this content. This is particularly important in complex programs where agents are “shared” across multiple projects or tasks.

Knowledge-based content offers agents a way to access the information needed to properly assist customers. Providing the content is valuable, but if agents can’t access it promptly, the value is diluted. It’s imperative that management and technical teams work together to come up with the best solution for providing this information to their staff.

When presenting support content to your agents, do so in a user-friendly way and train your team on the logic behind how information is categorized. For example, if you have numerous FAQs, and corresponding responses, to address a set of unique questions related to prices, shipping or return/exchange options, group them under separate headers or folders that allow timely access to the proper questions and responses. During training, encourage feedback from your team about the effectiveness of the categories. Oftentimes, your front-line staff are the ones who suggest the most effective ways to present content.

The consistency in the presentation of these tools is even more important if you have staff serving customers across different brands under an enterprise umbrella that may have different policies or, in the case of a call center outsourcer, working on behalf of multiple clients. Being able to quickly access the appropriate information until it is fully memorized drives down handle times and impacts customer satisfaction scores.

Offer Flexibility with Personal Workstations

Workstation comfort cannot be overstated. The customer service role is one where agents are often supporting customers who can be challenging at times and downright rude at others. Allow your staff to be as comfortable as possible within the professional constraints of your business policies and any applicable compliance standards.

Review what is allowed at an agent’s workstation, allowing as much flexibility as possible. This is particularly important given the fact that so many agents are currently working from home. Little concessions that may seem benign can make a big difference in an agent’s overall disposition. Allowing for personal items like family pictures or trinkets, things that don’t negatively impact production by taking up space can be quite rewarding, particularly when agents complete a call with a difficult customer. A glance at a family photo can serve as the grounding motivation for an agent to shake off a rough call and begin the next one with a smile.

Comfort is another important consideration related to any job and is particularly important when one is restricted to a workspace all day, as is the case with support staff who are typically seated. A comfortable seat or yoga ball goes a long way in determining an agent’s comfort and can help keep minds focused on providing excellent support without physical distractions.

Lastly, and especially important once again due to the rise of virtual work, allowing agents to wear comfortable clothing also impacts employees’ moods. If agents aren’t providing support through video conferences, allow for flexibility. Make sure staff understand the options available that align with your company’s policies. In the end, your most productive agents are typically those in the best states of mind, offering the pleasant demeanor that customers seek when reaching out for help. Small concessions can provide great rewards so solicit input from your staff on their preferences and establish rules that allow your staff to be productive, comfortable, and compliant with the needs of their jobs, all at the same time.

Advocate For Internal Communication

Your staff serves as brand ambassadors and are the front-line of customer communication. Maintaining open lines of communication with your internal team benefits the agents, your company and customers, and cannot be encouraged enough by management.

As everyone familiar with the customer service role knows, it is a challenging job. Customers can be trying, and this job is one many companies struggle to effectively fill, often dealing with agent turnover and burnout. Make sure to provide your staff with the resources required to communicate their needs or concerns with peers and management.

Numerous stakeholders support agent efforts, and you should provide a way for them to effectively communicate with each other. Team Leaders, Shift Supervisors, Account Managers, Quality Assurance, Analysts and Trainers are some of the vital support staff that agents rely on. The roles of each of these individuals or groups vary by company, and protocols for communicating with them should be established and presented in training as part of customer support best practices.

Regardless of the topic, program-specific, customer-specific, or agent-specific access to feedback and direction is vital for agent success.

Many contact center platforms have embedded internal messaging options. For those that don’t, supplementing platforms with dedicated instant messaging applications is easy to deploy within your center or across your network of agents. Make sure to train agents on how to effectively utilize each messaging application and the protocols related to using them. You should also set up messaging groups, which serve to communicate across several individuals simultaneously, a great way to ensure that content is delivered in a timely and consistent manner.

Video conferences are also effective in bringing groups of agents together for training, focus groups, calibration sessions, and keeping your team on the same page. There has never been more technology available to customer service teams than there is today, and the ability to communicate has never been more important., Provide as much support to your staff as possible and make access to communication channels and training on how to capitalize on what they offer a corporate commitment. Program results will improve, management tasks will become easier, and agents will have peace of mind knowing their voices are being heard, contributing to a higher retention rate and greater job satisfaction, which benefits the entire team.

Learn Customer Support Best Practices From Telecom, Inc.

These are just some of the important steps that leading support teams like Telecom, Inc. are taking today to ensure successful customer interaction outcomes. To learn more about Telecom’s approach to driving success in our agents and implementing customer support best practices, please contact us or schedule an appointment.

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