By Joe Jorczak
Between supply chain disruptions and skyrocketing ticket volume, being a customer service agent has never been more difficult. What was originally considered an entry-level position is now a critical part of a brand’s entire customer experience strategy — in a time when it’s easier than ever for customers to change their allegiance, no less.
It’s no wonder that more than 70% of agents have considered quitting in the past six months.
The role of a customer service agent is to not just resolve requests for help quickly, but to become an ambassador of the brand itself. They must be expert communicators who are adept at solving issues and keeping customers happy so they stay with you. (This is especially important when you consider that it can be 5x+ more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.)
But today, it’s not enough for agents to be great at the human element: the technical expectations heaped upon agents in the digital age are enormous. Not only are they expected to master product knowledge, policies, and procedures, but they must also become process and system experts, learning how to navigate a multitude of back-end systems that store customer information, product documentation, training resources, company policies, and much more. And when they can’t find an answer, they have to know who in the organization to contact who might be able to help them.
Because let’s be real: an agent can be the friendliest, warmest person, but if they can’t help customers solve their issue, it’s all for naught. There needs to be some substance behind the helpful attitude.
It all boils down to this: your agents are drowning in both tickets and complex systems, and they need a lifeline. The odds are stacked against them becoming successful and staying in their roles. But customer support is too important to play around with — so what can companies do to ‘rescue’ their agents?
How AI Can Assist
To address this issue, we’ve seen a flood of companies looking to provide “agent assist” services to support leaders. The idea is that agents need coaching, “next best action” prompts, recommendations, and performance monitoring to help them deliver better service — but it can all get overwhelming.
Further, studies show that agents’ top priority is the flexibility to work from home, but this means they must become proficient without the typical support structure in place. Team leaders and supervisors aren’t walking the floor ready to jump in when an agent hits a roadblock.
The solution? What agents want and need isn’t tools for the sake of tools — it’s ease and simplicity. Rather than layering on more technology to compensate for an already complex environment, leaders should make it easy for agents to do what they already do as consumers: ask questions in natural language and get succinct, usable answers no matter where the data and information is housed.
This is where an AI Search platform that utilizes language automation shines. It has the ability to process large volumes of unstructured data, and deliver precise answers to agent questions — helping agents respond to inquiries more quickly by understanding the intent of a new ticket and automatically presenting the most relevant information from any knowledge source. This is a big improvement over an agent having to hunt for the many places help-related content exists. It also empowers them to act autonomously — from home, or from wherever they are.
The language automation future
In the near future, investment in a language automation platform will deliver even more: it will even enable Support teams to providedauto-generate structured FAQs and knowledge articles based on directly from ticket responses, white papers, case studies, and even voice transcriptions — streamlining agent workflows and boosting efficiency. And the time to start is now.
With effects of the great resignation continuing to play out across the industry, it (literally) pays to make agents’ lives simpler and easier. Throw them an AI lifeline today.