My colleague Richard Holden recently wrote an article on LinkedIn exploring his views on the role of contact center agents - how he believed that their requirement to be product experts has recently been elevated. I strongly agree with Richard and I have been talking about the need for what I have called ‘super agents’ for some time - maybe Richard stole the phrase from me as he closed his article talking about super agents!
But why do we need super agents anyway? I’d recommend that you read Richard’s article for some more ideas, but I would like to add some of my own thoughts here.
Think about the triggers or drivers for a customer service interaction today. There are the general relationship driven interactions, where the customer is just asking for information or is reinforcing their ongoing relationship with the brand - basically just engaging with brands they love. But what about problems and trouble-shooting?
Imagine if you just bought a new laptop and can’t work out how to switch it on because the power button is completely hidden. This once happened to me when the Playstation 4 was released - Sony hid the power button so well that you had to know where it was, otherwise it was invisible.
What do you do? Maybe you ask Alexa… ‘Hey Alexa, where is the power button on a XYZ123 laptop?’ Maybe, you Google the same question on your phone.
Maybe you go to the XYZ Computers website on your phone and click on the HELP button. A bot answers, so you ask the same question again.
If the chatbot is well designed then it will know that it is not giving you the answer you need and will transfer the conversation over to a human agent. This means that before the customer gets to speak to a human, they might have tried two or three self-service channels. They have been searching for answers and the reason they are now talking to a human is because an AI-powered chatbot and Google have failed to find the answer.
So this means that your human agents need to be really smart. You can’t just give them a few days of training and then throw them in, talking to customers. They are usually going to be talking to customers that have already tried the bot, already tried Google, and none of their own searches worked out.
The last thing the customer should hear now is the agent asking ‘could you repeat the problem?’ Or even ‘I have some standard questions I need to ask you…’ The bot should have handed over the discussion history so the agent knows who the customer is and their exact problem.
For a question like this one, the agent should know immediately how to switch on the product because they will know the product range. For more complex problems, they can use their own experience to resolve the problem. The agent could even be supported by an AI/Machine Learning system that listens to the call and is able to suggest ideas based on every call ever received from every customer - the agent could have their own intelligence augmented by the wisdom of crowds.
This adds value to the brand to customer relationship - the agents are seen as experts. It makes being an agent a much more fulfilling job, and it really changes their status. They are no longer just resetting passwords or handling basic questions - they are the only person that can help the customer and they are better than Google! They are the super agents!
First published on LinkedIn by Jonas Berggren, December 7, 2021.