For years, we’ve been hearing about how AI is going to replace human customer service agents. The thought was that AI could be more efficient and less emotional, ready to move human callers from Point A to Point B, without being flustered.
But it turns out, probably predictably, that humans prefer to talk to other humans. They want someone who understands them and empathizes with them. They actually like a human voice.
That said, they want a human voice that actually does help them with their problems. That takes training and it takes a dedicated effort to improve what matters most. Creating the best customer experiences starts with training and is an organization-wide effort.
This year’s Execs in the Know CX Agents report looks at what top organizations are focusing on to improve the customer experience. It looks at the most relevant KPIs, the most important soft skills, and the best way to train people to give better experiences.
Leaders in this field know that AI is vital for providing effective immersive training for human agents. Because at the end of the day, the human experience is the customer experience.
Here is what we learned from the 2022 survey.
Key Lessons from the CX Leaders Summary
The most important lesson from this year’s CX Leaders Survey by Execs in the Know is that to create better experiences, we need to focus on what matters most. Here is a rundown of what we learned.
Fewer People, More Hybrid Work
One of the paradoxes of the last few years is that while people want more human interactions, the human side of the industry is changing. Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to remote work. While remote work was growing over the last decade, it was accelerated (in every industry) by the pandemic. A full 62% of respondents had an in-office and work-from-home hybrid model, with 23% entirely WFH. Only 11% of respondents had every agent in-house.
We also learned about the size of departments. Most, it turns out, are not huge.
- 47%- Fewer than 100 agents
- 11%- 101-250
- 7%- 251-500
- 3%- 501-2000
- 2%- More than 2000
(This is even a bit skewed, since more than 28% of respondents don’t directly oversee agents, so did not answer.)
What we have are fewer people, which requires more training, and more dispersed people, which makes training even more challenging. Luckily, a full 77% of respondents use in-house agents, which at least makes training more uniform.
The KPIs That Matter Most
When thinking about training, it is important to consider what are the most important things to train for. In this, we look at what matters most to businesses and to customers.
Our respondents had KPIs that they most closely tracked. The top four were:
- CSAT (47%)
- Handle Time/Volume (43%)
- Quality/Compliance (36%)
- Resolution Rate (25%)
All of these revolve around the customer experience. The ones that mattered the least (Churn, SLA, Attrition) are more internal.
So what matters most when it comes to customer experiences? Far and away, it is getting resolution to their problem. Problem solving had a 35% response rate, with Communication/Comprehension at 23%. Professionalism and Empathy were virtually tied at 17% each, which makes sense. It’s hard to be professional and customer-facing jobs without being empathetic.
Areas of Improvement
So, if you want to improve performance overall, where should you focus your efforts? Let’s look at what we have learned.
- Customers care most about problem solving
- Businesses care most about CSAT scores
- CSAT is a metric of how well problems were solved.
It makes sense, then, that 33% of respondents said that Greater Proficiency/Speed to Resolution were where they would want immediate improvement, if possible. Following that was Higher Customer Satisfaction at 19%, and then Lower Attrition at 18%.
This might be surprising since Attrition was a metric that mattered least above. But everyone would like better retention. That helps with institutional knowledge and lowers training costs.
It’s possible that this combination – wanting to lower attrition and speed resolution – is why training is the area where businesses are spending most of their time, attention, and resources. Where are they focusing?
- Improving Soft Skills: 26%
- Increasing Training Resources: 24%
- Raising Performances: 22%
- Improving Processes and Tools: 20%
The final key question is what businesses want the most, if they had a magic wand, for new trainees. At 44%, the answer was “Improved Speed to Proficiency.”
Faster time to proficiency. Better overall problem solving. Better soft skills for improved KPIs. You don’t actually need a magic wand. Just the right platform.
AI Coaching for Better Agent Performance
Reading through this, you might be worried that there is a paradox. Teams are smaller, which means fewer experienced agents to help training. And they are far apart, dispersed at home, which makes training even more difficult. But there is a growing need for better customer experiences, making comprehensive training even more important.
These challenges can be resolved through AI coaching. An AI coaching platform can offer immersive training replicating customer experience situations without any real risk. The platform can walk through scenarios, giving employees practice that perfectly mimics the real thing. They get experience with scripts and planned experiences and are able to adapt to tricky situations. This will put them on track to proficiency much faster than just memorizing scripts.
This training helps with “hard” metrics, like call time and churn. But the platform also boosts soft skills, such as empathy and understanding. The AI platform can tell managers areas of improvement, as well as areas that need more personal assistance. This improves performance for new hires and old hands alike.
The Zenarate AI coaching platform can be used anywhere without any new equipment, making it idea for a work-from-home or hybrid situation. WFH employees around the globe can have the same experience right from their home computer, with secure results going to one dashboard.
The human experience, as we learned, is more important than ever. And the AI coaching platform from Zenarate makes your humans better than ever at their jobs.
Download the full CX Agents Report to get more insights on why consumers increasingly value human interactions for superior brand experiences.
Read the original article in the EITK April 2023 CS Insight Magazine.
"As an innovative marketing specialist with 5+ years of driving brands to the next level, I am committed to bringing Immersive learning to the forefront of employee training programs across contact centers globally."