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Agent Collaboration at Core of Great Customer Support Experience

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Agent Collaboration at Core of Great Customer Support Experience

May 04, 2016

  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

The traditional method of customer support – one agent to one customer, unless a cold transfer to another agent was required – seemed to make sense in the past. It was easier to schedule, and it (ostensibly) kept average handle times lower. What it didn’t really make sense for was the customer.

An agent may have spent long minutes with the customer, uncovering his or her problem, only to find the agent didn’t have the skills to solve it. A transfer was then made, and that customer had to start all over again with another agent. Numerous studies of the top customer annoyances include transfers, after which the customer needs to begin again.

The academic thinking today is beginning to tilt away from “one agent to one customer” scenarios to a more collaborative approach. The idea is that even if the agent can’t solve a problem, he or she retains the transaction and simply seems help from an agent with different knowledge. In this way, the agent still “owns” the transaction, even if it takes extra help to conclude it.

Knowledge sharing, or collaboration, is an incredibly important part of a support team's success today, according to a recent blog post by support solutions provider Team Support (News - Alert).

“It's more than two people working alongside each other on the same project,” wrote the Team Support blogger. “Rather, collaboration is an idea built into the nature of the support team itself. When representatives help each other with tickets and share information, customers get better, faster results.”

There’s no such thing as a perfect agent. Most support workers, even the most skilled, will have blind spots in their knowledge. An entire support team is greater than the sum of its parts: they can fill in knowledge gaps for one another. A support system designed around a comprehensive knowledge base – contributed to by all agents -- eliminates the need for agents to scramble to find answers to issues that may have been addressed in the past. A lot of time is wasted in contact centers and help desks essentially “reinventing the wheel” with problems that have cropped up before.

“Businesses can create wikis that encourage team members to create their own support-related content and easily update it when the product changes or when other agents find points to add,” wrote the Team Support blogger. “This kind of group functionality promotes the kind of collaboration your team needs to address tickets more effectively.”

Sometimes, however, knowledge bases, wikis and customer records with notes won’t be enough, and your agents will need to engage in live collaboration, and any support solution you put in place should be make this easy for workers. Getting up from a desk and finding the right person to ask a question adds precious time onto transactions, and risks customers getting impatient (or becoming ex-customers). 

“Office-wide internal chat capabilities promote conversations and teamwork without forcing agents to leave their workstations,” wrote Team Support. “Since chats are generally limited to two people, an internal forum is another feature that lets everyone participate in a conversation.”

An approach like this needs the right solution. Many companies are still building their customer support future on software from the past, which stunts their efforts to build a progressive, collaborative customer experience. It helps greatly to ensure that all agents are working on a platform that provides knowledge, knowledge sharing and live collaboration. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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