A colleague describes customer service as the heartbeat of a company. I am yet to think of a better description. And in the midst of this global pandemic, that heartbeat is working at about 200 beats per minute.
Why are customer service agents under so much strain?
There are a variety of factors putting pressure on customer service organizations:
- Volume of questions / calls / chats from customers is at an unprecedented high.
- The responses to their questions are changing daily as this situation unfolds.
- Many agents have been relocated to work from home.
- Many agents are unable to get into work and cannot work from home, so total staffing is lower.
- Customers are scared and frustrated (after long wait times). They need answers to their questions and more than ever, they want to hear those answers from a human.
During this crazy time you can either let that heartbeat keep going up until it can no longer do what’s needed, or you can provide the necessary tools to make sure it can keep supporting the other organs / functions.
Why isn’t anyone helping?
Unfortunately the trend in this space over the last several years has been to “contain” or “deflect” customers from connecting with agents. While AI and ML have become familiar terms within contact centers, the primary use has been to engage bots— aimed at preventing as many customers as possible from talking to agents.
How can you help your agents?
Our philosophy on AI and ML in this space is: Let’s use this powerful technology to augment the humans. Let’s allow conversations between customers and agents, learn from them, and use those learnings to drive better, more efficient interactions. This philosophy rings through our platform from our proprietary language models, to our intuitive UI/UX, to our ongoing engagement with agents through focus groups and roundtables to make sure what we are building is working for them.
Why focusing on agents is most important
- It drives the best results: Increased agent efficiency with increased customer AND agent satisfaction.
- Agents are the bottleneck right now.
- Your agents are on the front line — an important face of your brand to your customers.
- Better performing agents lead to happier customers.
- Agents provide the best feedback loop for what works and what doesn’t work.
- During this crazy time you can either let that heartbeat keep going up until it can no longer do what’s needed, or you can provide the necessary tools to make sure it can keep supporting the other organs / functions.
Are you doing everything you can to support your agents so they can serve your customers well?
Rachel Knaster is the Chief Product Officer at ASAPP where she gets to work with a team of brilliant researchers and engineers, and exceptional customers to bring our vision to life while delivering incredible results. Rachel was previously at IBM Watson where she had an early opportunity to work with some of the world's largest companies on how to leverage emerging AI capabilities. She first developed an interest in technology while majoring in Computer Science at Harvard.