Wake Up, It’s Time to Rethink Your Agent Assist Strategy

Wake Up, It’s Time to Rethink Your Agent Assist Strategy

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An Open Letter to Management

We need to talk. About how you’re supporting us. Or not supporting us. As your contact center agents, we’ve been your guinea pigs for too long. You’ve tried to get us to work harder, be more empathetic, you’ve implemented weird monitoring, and pushed us to get through more calls quicker in lots of strange, torturous ways.

News flash Einstein: None of it has worked…for us at least.

No matter how many monitoring tools you Big Brother us with, you’re never going to get the results you want because you’re going about it all wrong. 

Here’s how you’re going about it all wrong:

Your "tools" are just focused on making calls shorter and reducing AHT, NOT helping us do our job better.

Your Big Brother software doesn't help us, it just tattles on us when we make small slip-ups. Can you say paranoia?

Customer surveys and satisfaction scores are incomplete at best, wildly inaccurate at worst, yet you make us live or die by them.

In spite of the millions of dollars you spend on technology, none of feels like it was designed with us in mind. None of it even feels like it was designed by anyone who spent a day working in a call center. Do they even know what we do? Do you?

Have you ever considered the fact that we aren’t hitting every benchmark you throw at us because we don’t have the tools or support we need to do the job? And no, your latest shiny object, empathy coaching bots, don’t count as anything but ridiculous. I mean, think about it… robots with empathy?  

Stop monitoring us. For real.

If you want your contact center agents to be successful, you need to help us.

Look, I want to be a better agent — we all do. But it comes from giving customers better experiences. And the only way to do that is if we have the ability to address every possible request or complaint that could come up. An empathy bot isn’t going to do that. It’s a distraction, it hurts the process and quite honestly its insulting.

I’ve worked in this business for over 20 years, I don’t need a bot telling me when customers are upset. I can usually tell from the rising volume of their voice. 

What can you do?

Frustrated AgentIt’s pretty simple: Get rid of all this busy work that’s bogging me down. Seriously, do you have any idea how much time I spend hunting down information that should be right in my lap? Or how much of my precious life is wasted processing requests that should only take a few seconds?

Here’s a recent example. The other day, a customer asks me to reverse an overdraft fee. Easy-peasy, right? Nope. Had to put them on hold for five minutes. Fives add up. Customers subtract. So much for customer experience…

A $35 fee takes five minutes to fix, and I’m the one who has to explain why my AHT is 10 seconds longer this week than last? How about you go talk to the person who created that ridiculous process in the first place?

Rather than sink however much money into that fancy touchy-feely robot, why don’t you just automate that one job? Think of how much time and grief you would save us! And money? That used to mean something.

Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of other ideas.

frustrated agentIf you started to think about contact center tech from our perspective, you’d find a lot more ways to make things better around here.

Take our password system. Do you have any idea how often I get bounced out of an application and need to log back in? At least 10 times a day, easy.

“What’s the big deal?” you might be asking. “Just type in your password again.”

Well, I just so happen to have more than 50 passwords for all of my accounts. How am I supposed to keep track of all that? In the amount of time I spend finding the right login for the application, I could have helped at least one or two or ten more customers.

Sidenote: Those chatbots that you promised would pick up the slack for us don’t seem to be getting the job done. At least if the number of complaints I get from customers about them is any indication. Seriously, I’d say 60% of the calls I field are because one of our chatbots actually made the customer more upset. I suppose that’s impressive, in its own way.

These are the types of problems you should be helping me solve. Not saddling me with some robot who tells me to “slow down” or “show empathy.” Seriously? I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve probably handled a million calls. I think I’ve got the whole empathy thing down pat.

Bottom line: Get this whole big fancy tech to work for us for a change!

Here’s a thought: Maybe you should teach those botstards how to show more empathy. If our chatbots and self-service tools were half as effective as our contact center agents, we probably wouldn’t be receiving so many calls right now. They’re the first point of contact nowadays, right? Well, teach them to understand simple customer commands so you can give customers a good impression right from the start. Or you could just keep ticking them off and then passing them along to me… how’s that strategy working?

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a contact center agent with two decades of experience. I’m sure the next expensive piece of technology will finally have things figured out. Definitely.

Mike… your “Best Agent”

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