The secret to customer satisfaction is agent experience
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
Customer-obsessed companies are always looking for ways to increase customer satisfaction (CSAT). To achieve this, they put strategies in place, run surveys, and invest heavily in their tech stack. But one area that deserves more love, attention and discussion is the support department’s front line; let’s put agents in the spotlight. After all, happier agents lead to happier customers and happier customers are repeat customers.
Let’s start by evaluating how we understand our agents. What is an agent's goal? Support leaders might believe an agent’s goal is for them to meet their target KPIs, focusing on number of tickets answered and scores on customer feedback surveys. But what is their day like? Unfortunately for many support departments, an agent’s end-goal is to clock in and clock out. They want to earn a paycheck but aren’t motivated to do more than that.
To flip the script, some customer support industry leaders have begun focusing on the happiness of their employees first. The idea goes that any positive culture built within the company will be felt when interacting with the company.
The North Face’s Senior Manager of Customer Experience, David M. Schmidt highlights this change in approach during his talk Exploring New Landscapes in Customer Experience, “I'm going to start looking at going beyond the survey scores. It's not just about the number on the score, but how did those scores translate to behavior? How can we modify and change and enhance our behaviors to get better scores coming out of those surveys?” By focusing on what agents need, they are better prepared to succeed, which will augment the success of your support organization’s outputs.
Watch on-demand: Exploring New Landscapes in Customer Experience with David M. Schmidt, The North Face
Investing in agent experience to avoid repeat costs
A support organization’s biggest expense is its people. The hiring, training and retention of agents is incredibly costly and the average turnover of customer-facing agent positions sits at approximately 25% quarterly. Yes, that means that some companies are churning through their entire organization in just over a year.
The total cost (time, resources, additional management oversight, etc.) that organizations are spending to have agents trained, retained, and succeeding completely overshadows the cost of investing in resources that will maximize agent happiness and efficiency. A great place to invest in your team’s happiness is to start with the technology that they use day-to-day. A support software should meet (or hopefully exceed) all of an agent’s needs, offering the ability to scale with your business over time.
Having a simple, pain-free onboarding process, helpful internal learning resources and active teamwide communication channels creates an environment where agents feel supported and can be more productive, something that is easily made possible with the right customer support solution.
Making product decisions with your agents, not for them
To see where your agents stand regarding their role on the team, talk to them, ask them questions. Learn what they don’t like, where they see bottlenecks and what blocks their productivity day-to-day. Making changes for your agents — recommended by your agents — will maximize agent efficiency, happiness and this positive energy will be reflected in the customer experience.
Is your customer support solution empowering agents to succeed and improve? Is it helping agents to help themselves? If agents are spending time jumping between windows, struggling with integrations that don’t interact seamlessly, and are siloed in their communication, it’s time to consider a unified customer support solution.
Agents may not even know what customer support resources exist that could improve their quality of life. Implementation of product features like an integrated, internal knowledge management solution enable agents to maximize response times and provide quality answers, even if they don’t readily know how to solve a ticket and helps agents learn from others’ experiences.
People view agents as cogs in the machine, as if a customer support team exists on a manufacturing floor, but it's not a cohesive way of running a business. Agents that are empowered to be productive will make for:
Rather than building and scaling your support operations with tools that focus solely on meeting KPIs, it’s important to consider your agents’ needs and if their productivity will be stagnated or boosted, as they are the ones primarily using the customer support product.
Building customer support environments to be enjoyable
Customer satisfaction and agent happiness are inherently linked. Satisfied customers are due in large part to agent efficiency. Agents that are efficient and maximize customer satisfaction are generally happier because they are performing well in their role. Customers want reliability and consistency, which is the same experience that our agents want, yet customers’ voices are more often elevated and emboldened, as they have a great impact on revenue and brand reputation. It’s all part of the happy, healthy culture in a successful customer-driven company.
"The more freedom, fun, and positivity you can bring into your teams — without sacrificing quality — is one of the best ways to supercharge your customers’ experience.”
— Carl Lane,
Product Solutions Expert, Wix Answers,
and former Customer Care agent, Wix.com
In addition to focusing on the relationship of agent productivity to agent happiness, it’s also important to listen to what agents want in terms of work environment and team culture. Even if teams are remote or are outsourced via BPO, there are plenty of activities you can implement to promote a fun working environment that will keep agents engaged and excited to be a part of the team.
Remember, your agents are your frontlines. They are who customers see first and are almost exclusively who customers will ever interact with. If they are not happy when communicating with customers, customer behavior will follow suit.
Support leaders are scrambling to create a balance between happy team members and happy customers. Skip the stress and knock out two birds with one stone by investing in your agents from the get-go, happy customers will follow naturally.