Proactive Contact Center Agents: An Advantage Hiding in Plain Sight

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Contact center associates have long been at the front line of customer issues but historically, companies have not typically tapped their insight for new customer solutions. What if, instead of being powerless to solve a problem, contact center associates were proactively identifying solutions in a methodical, strategic approach that improves efficiencies, increases cost savings, and increases customer satisfaction?

Forward-looking companies are doing exactly that by empowering front-line staff to make recommendations on how to solve customer pain points and improve the customer experience using their deep domain expertise and insights. We’ll explain what’s needed to enable a proactive environment made of a collaborative village of forward-thinking employees.

Reimagine the possibilities

The best contact center associates are focused on the end-to-end customer journey. They want to ensure the entire journey—from prior to the interaction, during the interaction, and after the interaction—is seamless. They interact with customers throughout the day, and as a result, have a deep understanding of the challenges and questions that customers are struggling with. They are also customers themselves and know what it’s like to interact with a brand’s customer support.

Many customer interactions involve siloed systems and processes. This leads to redundant tasks, disjointed interactions, and difficulty integrating and orchestrating complete customer journeys. What’s more, agents are typically measured by traditional service-level performance metrics—not their ability to think creatively or critically.

As automation technology and AI free humans from repetitive tasks, associates have an opportunity to find more ways to improve the customer experience and make greater contributions to the company’s bottom line. This also allows talented agents to move from an otherwise monotonous role to a more strategic and rewarding one.

Unlock proactive solutions

Encouraging employees to proactively suggest solutions is only the first step; they need to be equipped with the knowledge, training, and data-driven processes to make proactive thinking an integral part of their job, rather than a sporadic event. At TTEC, we streamlined those processes into an engine—Proactive Solutions—that formalizes the steps by which our talented associates transform the customer experience for our clients.

The process includes coaching associates on how to identify customer friction points and collect data to substantiate those observations, providing training on using data analysis tools and journey maps, as well as regular meetings with mentors and coaches to continuously refine proactive approaches.

For instance, we worked with a travel site where users were required to identify themselves through a multi-factor authentication system. However, if they couldn’t successfully answer all four of the verification questions, they were locked out of the site and an agent would have to restore access. Noting that this was a significant pain point for customers, the TTEC team—which had undergone Proactive Solution training—proposed replacing the questions with reverse phone verification, which produced highly positive results, including a 5 percent increase in customer satisfaction and thousands of dollars in saved labor costs.

There are many more benefits to enabling associates to proactively turn their insights into actionable items, such as making more informed budget decisions, identifying new cost savings opportunities, and creating a more meaningful and impactful customer experience.

Proactive associates also need proper incentives and rewards. We have built a rewards system that includes both monetary and non-monetary ways to recognize our contributors, which is facilitated in a gamification platform.

In many ways, proactive customer support is the natural evolution of the contact center. Agents already have the knowledge and insights to deliver more value to the customer—they just need the right strategies and tools to unlock those opportunities.