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How to Uncover the Hidden Customer Experience

This guest blog post was written by Chris Lawson, Lawson Concepts

Chris Lawson has spent more than 25 years championing customer service solutions for Fortune 500 companies and is a frequent speaker on service excellence. His firm, Lawson Concepts, helps contact centers harness information and provides solutions that redefine both the agent and the customer experience.

Those of us who manage contact centers tend to think of the customer experience as something like a short auto trip: You drive from point A to point B, usually taking the shortest path that gets you there quickest.

But just like an actual road trip, all sorts of issues occur along the way. You might get a flat tire or run out of gas. An accident or road construction might cause delays or even detours. And efforts to compensate for lost time could earn you a speeding ticket and an onerous lecture from a highway patrolman.

A military strategist once said “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy because the most brilliant plan loses touch with reality.” It’s the same with the customer experience.

There’s a specter that haunts agent-customer phone interactions and makes mayhem of your plans, communications and training, regardless of budget. It’s called: the AGENT experience. It’s where the rubber of your plans meets the road of reality. And all your efforts to bolster customer satisfaction are for naught if you don’t take it into account up front.

So what’s really happening?

Think about the last time a contact center agent placed you, as a customer, on hold. The agent may have said something like, “I’m placing you on a hold for a moment while I look at your account.” Sound familiar? What was the agent doing during that hold? Most likely, searching for a document to try to understand either what to do next in the process or how to handle the transaction with the available applications.

Studies show that putting customers on hold is what really tanks customer satisfaction scores, which may mean your journey is already behind schedule in the first 60 seconds of the trip. In all likelihood, all those legacy applications agents use are not integrated. After searching, agents are forced to cut, copy and paste data or, worse yet, ask the customer to repeat information.

Because of the spaghetti path you force agents to wade through, you could experience a decrease of more than 20 percent. And it’s the agent’s experience that becomes the REAL customer experience, no matter how perfect your plan.

Agents already spend 14 percent of their time searching for documents to resolve customer issues, and you can expect corporate information to double every 3.5 years. For a 1,000 seat contact center paying an average agent wage of US$10 an hour, that equates to a more than US$4 million annual inefficiency.

As you add documents and change them—something which happens in most contact centers daily—agents must try to memorize more and more locations. They search shared network drives, web sites, help systems, SharePoint sites, emails and more. When (if!) they find the right spot, they must then search within it for the right document and skim its content to determine if it holds the answer they need. If not, it’s back to square one. This process may repeat again and again, all while the customer is on hold.

Transforming how agents interact with applications and accessing information makes for a better customer experience. You’ll reduce operational costs, increase agent morale and decrease agent fatigue. And all that is bound to make customers happier too.

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