Advancements in technology have made it easier for organizations across all industries to improve their employee experiences. But in the contact center and customer service spaces, ensuring happy employees is even more critical to a company’s success.
In our latest Conversations That Matter podcast episode, Successful CX Is Built on a Strong Employee Experience, we explored the importance of employee experience and how technology is helping companies empower their agents. Randy Ksar, our Head of Content and Influencer Marketing, sat down with Ivan Kotzev, a Research Analyst at NelsonHall, to discuss his view of the customer experience industry.
Myth Busting: The Final Goal of CX
We usually begin our podcast by asking guests for one myth they want to debunk about customer experience. Ivan discussed the common myth that there is a utopia for customer experience in which companies strive for a perfect end goal.
Ivan explained: “Across the industry, there’s an idea that you can reach a final goal of CX through technology with the right investments and people. But we’re in such a dynamic space that we are constantly moving the goalposts as an industry, and factors like competitors and customers are pushing expectations even higher.”
There is no final stage of customer experience and no goalpost that organizations can pass to reach a stable state. That’s because there are constant external factors impacting what organizations deliver to customers, which means they have to push their performance to the next level. It also means companies have to keep looking to the future and constantly innovate to keep ahead of new challenges coming out of left field.
Improving The Agent Experience Is Vital
Ivan has been in the customer experience game for around 20 years, having trained as a journalist before starting work for a telecom firm in his homeland of Bulgaria. The company redesigned its customer service team, which saw Ivan step into a customer experience role. That positions him perfectly to comment on how the contact center industry has evolved over the last two decades.
One of the critical things Ivan has seen is that some of the challenges that existed 10 to 20 years ago continue to blight the industry. For example, we still see very high attrition among contact center agents. It’s often not seen as the most exciting or glamorous job, and many people don’t see starting on the floor of a contact center as the ideal place to launch their careers.
However, there is movement in the right direction as companies place a growing focus on the employee experience. That includes understanding the right agent profile they require, how they find the right talent and how to engage employees to ensure they grow and take on more responsibility.
Ivan also explained that technology investments are increasingly aimed at enhancing the employee experience. “Technology investments are focused on making agents more effective and helping them solve the issue on the first call,” he said. “Companies are also using tools to identify the sentiment of the conversation and assist agents with knowledge articles, suggestions and next steps.
“This is most likely to be the industry’s biggest investment in the long term. The traditional way of scaling operations was to hire more people, and the traditional way of scaling costs was to go offshore. But many of these solutions aren’t available anymore, so now businesses need to look at options that help them enhance the agents they already have.”
Evolving CX Requirements
Roles that were traditionally considered to belong to marketing departments are increasingly permeating the customer experience remit. Ivan has been working on lines of business that exist adjacent to customer experiences, such as content moderation, trust and safety. And, as he explains, these issues are a crucial focus for many brands.
“Consumer brands that sell directly to customers need support in the massive online marketplace that we all use on a daily basis,” he said. “That includes filtering content, the products they upload, and ensuring reviews are answered and information is accurate without infringing [upon] copyright or duplicating other content. There’s a lot of work to be done, and historically this has been considered the work of the marketing department. But many of those roles now are fitting into the CX space.”
Focusing On Agents’ Mental Well-Being
Ivan believes the longest-lasting investment will be in enhancing the employee experience when directly dealing with customers and at the backend. For example, content moderation is increasingly seeing best practices focused on employee wellness, resilience training and mental well-being.
“All these factors are seeping into the relationship between the outsourcers and their clients,” Ivan explained. “I expect this to be part of the contractual terms down the road, in terms of having a mental health specialist and a hotline people can call.”
Ivan Kotzev, Research Analyst at NelsonHall
We recently explored the need for businesses to recognize and reward employees’ efforts, in terms of their good performance, achieving goals, hitting new milestones and exceeding expectations. Focusing on agents’ mental well-being will be a strong focus for enterprises going forward, which includes understanding their needs, motivations and requirements and appreciating their efforts in the right way.
New Technology Delivers On CX Requirements
Businesses are under pressure to continuously evolve their products and solutions—including their CX offerings—to delight customers. And with today’s conversational artificial intelligence (AI) technology, they can drive higher engagement, satisfaction and loyalty—both from their customers and their employees.
Conversational AI allows businesses to understand every conversation in real-time, augmenting call center agents to help them deliver a more efficient service and truly deliver on customer demands.
Hear Ivan’s thoughts on the CX industry and employee experience challenges by listening to the Conversations That Matter podcast episode in full on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Spotify. You can also follow Ivan on Twitter and LinkedIn.