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  • GUEST BLOG: What skills do the agents of tomorrow need?

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    Agents in service and sales are often the first point of contact for customers and therefore, the face of the company.

    A satisfied customer is fundamental to the company’s success. The agent contributes significantly to this. The moment agents talk to customers is often a stress test for the relationship – either the company tries to sell to the customers and hence demands something, or the customer has issues that need resolving.

    At the same time, the demands placed on agents in service and sales are constantly changing.Customers have much more choice, are better informed and use many product and price comparison methods to ensure they’re getting the best deal for them. Businesses need to keep pace and be customer-centric in order to make the customer experience a positive one, retain customers and stay competitive. This requires a holistic approach, ranging from factors such as employee selection and training, to the technologies used. The market changes triggered by digital automation can be adapted to and mastered using automation.

    Michael Brehm, founder and CEO of i2x, an automatic voice recognition and artificial intelligence trainer, considers these 5 skills essential to the contact centers of tomorrow:

    1. Empathy

    The ability to recognize subtle cues and personality traits make people working in contact centers irreplaceable. But, computers can help agents to recognize clues from the language used in calls, to draw conclusions about emotions. This data can then be paired with recommendations for the agent on actions to be taken. However much technology can help, human empathy remains fundamental in the contact centers of the future.

    2. Trainability

    The right language makes a difference. Agents should speak idiomatically and accurately. The voice that is used should not be underestimated. If, for example an agent speaks too quietly, the customer will not understand the agent. If they speak too loudly, the customer is deterred from carrying on the conversation and will feel ignored. Saying too many filler words water downs the agent’s message, comes across as unprofessional and should be avoided. Continuous training right when they are in a call or about to make their next call is the most effective way to perfect the agent’s language and speaking style.

    3. Self-confidence and resilience

    Customer service or cold calling can be frustrating. So, it’s necessary to have intrinsically motivated employees who master every workday with their positivity. In addition, it is important to continuously motivate and cheer agents on, through supervisors and tech tools. The use of user-friendly tools in the call center of tomorrow, and today, can increase motivation, loyalty and job satisfaction.

    4. Broad and subject-specific knowledge

    Nowadays, agents are often all-rounders and have to deal with many different products with varying details and functions. With high employee turnover, three things are important:

    Fast-learning employees

    • Efficient onboarding
    • A knowledge management tool

    The knowledge management tool should be optimally integrated into day-to-day business and show relevant knowledge with as few clicks as possible. i2x comes with a feature that triggers content immediately when an associated word, e.g.“refund policy”, is detected in the conversation.

    5. Attention to data detail

    Entries in CRM systems are one of the most common sources of conflict between supervisors and agents. Supervisors review reports that agents fill out with information, but information can often get lost in translation. CRM systems only reach their full value when agents make the entries correctly and completely. Amplifying your data organization skills using technological tools such as assistants that record and summarize each conversation are valuable. This allows agents to dive back into past calls and navigate their way through crucial points. As a result, data entry becomes simplified and super organized.

    The agents of tomorrow need room for training and education. If there are opportunities for personal development, agents remain motivated and loyal in the long term. Innovative technology that supports everyday work and training, coupled with regular feedback, provides a foundation for the continuous development of skills and future-proofs the agent of the future.

    i2x offers technology that combines feedback with training and knowledge management. This combination empowers employees to improve their phone skills without the need for expensive training or taking up the time of their team leaders. i2x’s automatic, personalized and company-specific feedback addresses personal development areas in a targeted manner, improving conversion rate, increasing customer satisfaction and shortening the agent training period. For the first time, supervisors have the opportunity to collect and use all data that is generated in the contact center – using i2x’s automatic phone call transcription and analysis abilities. This creates a structured database that is versatile – allowing insights to be gained on not only agent behaviour, but trends, problem areas and team management.

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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