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Employee engagement strategy improves customer experience

Contact centers already suffer from turnover that puts customer experience strategies at risk. Companies need to tackle better customer experience via employee engagement strategy.

It's no surprise that many good companies have successfully invested in the customer experience to drive ROI. But...

the best organizations are taking it a step further and focusing on the true foundation of customer service: the contact center agent experience.

Employee experience matters, and companies are taking notice. According to Bluewolf's latest report, one-third of companies cited improving the employee experience as a top objective for 2016. To make improvements, it's crucial to understand the employee experience as more than key performance indicators (KPIs), like employee engagement and turnover rate. It's time to start thinking of service agents as customers themselves.

It's time to start thinking about customer experience management (CEM) strategy and employee engagement strategy in tandem.

Employee expectations on the rise

Bring all customer service information into one easily accessible view.

Outside the workplace, today's employees are consumers of intuitive, user-focused digital products -- such as iPhones and Uber -- whose hallmarks are easy-to-use interfaces. Consumers have no patience for digital tools that are hard to use; 90% of users report abandoning apps due to poor performance alone.

Plus, there's an influx of Millennial employees, who have this year surpassed Generation X to become the largest demographic in the workforce. These digital natives have grown up in an environment of increased usability and expect immediate service, easy functionality and a tailored digital experience that resonates with them. Good businesses understand that they can no longer afford to ask consumers to use complex systems. The best business applies this philosophy internally to its employee engagement strategy.

The best way to improve agent experience

Although employees' expectations continue to rise, their daily tasks are not getting easier. From the same Bluewolf report, employees cite data management as their most time-consuming task, and 70% report having to enter the same data into multiple systems to do their jobs. The less streamlined the processes, the slower agents are, and both agents and customers become frustrated with the service experience. Contact centers already suffer from one of the highest turnover rates of any business division, so low agent satisfaction puts an organization at risk for failure. Customer service organizations simply cannot afford to put employee experience second.

The best way to improve an employee engagement strategy and an agent's experience is to establish a single user interface (UI). When defining the management process, take an outward-in approach: bring all customer service information, which may live in multiple systems, into one easily accessible view, or UI, with real-time integration. Agents become more efficient, not having to waste valuable time logging into and toggling between different systems. Australia Post, a Bluewolf client that implemented Salesforce Service Cloud, streamlined its user interface and increased efficiency and employee engagement:

"We've halved staff training time and reduced the number of agents' clicks from 160 to only 11," said Brady Jacobsen, Australian Post's general manager of customer sales and service. "They can now concentrate on the customer instead of navigating through multiple platforms. We have greater ability to improve customer service through organizational collaboration, and providing access to customer insights across [our entire organization]."

What can you do now? Continuously improve your internal tools and your employees' experience, with the same level of intent that would be brought to improving the customer experience. The workforce craves it now. Soon, they will demand it.

About the author
Bob Furniss is the customer care practice director for Bluewolf Consulting. For more than 35 years, he has focused on customer experience. As a leader of enterprise contact centers -- and then as a consultant for more than 20 years -- he's had the opportunity to help companies create service roadmaps, develop change strategies, implement customer relationship management applications, and engage more effectively via new digital and social channels.

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This was last published in December 2015

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