Can Technology Help Make Employees and Customers Happier?

This week’s opinion piece is by Tom Libretto, chief marketing officer at Pegasystems, who explains why investment in tools to help customer-facing employees could go further than you might think.

The Key to Happiness

The phrase ‘a happy worker is a productive worker’ has become something of a tired cliché. But to what extent can arming employees with the right information also allow them to be more productive? And what role does technology play in keeping both employees and, ultimately, customers happy?

Let’s be clear: customer experience is undoubtedly one of the most critical areas of focus for any modern business looking to differentiate itself in an increasingly packed and homogenous marketplace. After all, satisfied customers are far more likely to give you repeat business and recommend you to others.

But with so much emphasis on providing easy and effortless customer service, organisations also run the risk of overlooking one of the most critical aspects of the experience: customer service agents. A recent Pega study found that 48% of customers rated knowledgeable agents as one of the most vital elements of excellent customer service. What this demonstrates is that it’s critical to get this part of your organisation right.

Identifying and retaining knowledgeable agents is not, however, as easy as it sounds. Without the right training, tools, and processes, customer service agents can quickly become ineffective at their jobs. Frustrated by their inability to perform effectively, it may prompt them to change jobs so they can add greater value. In a profession with an already notoriously high turnover rate, this can not only negatively impact customers but drive up training and onboarding costs for businesses as well. 

Tools and Technology

The challenge is identifying those tools that will increase efficiency and job satisfaction so agents can provide a superior customer experience. Many organisations have multiple databases, disconnected legacy systems, and a vast number of applications to manage, all of which makes the job of a customer service agent much more complicated. Our survey found that 38% of customer-facing employees use between four and twelve applications or IT programs to provide customer service, while 40% were frustrated at having to pass customers between teams and departments.

Many of the current issues revolve around the fact that, for many, using existing systems is a cumbersome and slow process – particularly since many of these applications require agents to enter the same information in different places multiple times or sign into several various applications to get their job done. When more than half of customers (59%) rate quick resolution as an essential aspect of customer service, this becomes significant.

The bottom line is that too many customer service agents today are working with insufficient tools. More than a third (34%) of customer service agents say they do not have the right software, applications, or technology to provide optimal customer service.

So what tools do agents think they should be using? Forty-three per cent of customer-facing agents say that having a consolidated view of all past customer interactions would allow them to be more effective, while one a third say they want a unified view of customer data across all channels. Meanwhile, one quarter (26%) say they would be more effective if their system automatically provided the next best available option for their customers.

Other technologies like AI and automation can also help customer service professionals focus on the areas that best suit their skill set. Automated technology can identify the most relevant information to resolve customer issues – often before customers have the chance to realise they even have one – and allow agents to focus on tasks that require human intervention. It’s easy to forget that while customer engagement centre leaders once worked hard to give their agents the ability to analyse customer data themselves across all their channels, the sheer volume of information available means this approach isn’t possible today.

The Need for Resources

To make informed decisions, today’s customer-facing employees need intelligent guidance to get to the right answer quickly. They want visibility into the process to provide customers with transparency. They want already-known information to populate across systems automatically. And they want to be able to quickly wrap-up customer interactions. In short, customer-facing staff want technology that doesn’t just make their lives easier, but that can also make them better informed and more effective at their jobs.

While happy workers may well be productive workers, it’s perhaps more critical for organisations with customer service teams to note that better informed workers are more satisfied as well and that this, in turn, can play an essential role in customer satisfaction. Forty-two per cent of employees consider knowledgeable service agents to be one of their greatest assets. Isn’t it worth asking how much happier, productive, and satisfied those agents would be if they had the right tools?

Like this piece? Find more information in the 2019 global customer service insights from Pegasystems here