Empower Your Customer Service Agents

#CX
"Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others." – John Maxwell

As a manager in a contact center, you can easily have your customer service agents answer customers across all channels, including social media. You just have to give them the right foundation.

When I tell you to empower your agents, I don’t just mean the type of empowerment technology brings through automation, good user experience, having the right information about the customer, etc. I’m talking about a foundation of tools and trust. About agents actually experiencing that they’re empowered - that you’ve transferred to them both some of your authority and the responsibility that goes along with it.

There are three things that go into empowering your customer service agents:

  • Knowledge base
  • Autonomy
  • Lifeline

Knowledge base

Make sure you establish a comprehensive knowledge base where the agents can find answers to almost any question. If they learn to always check the knowledge base when being asked a question, it’ll ensure a correct response the first time. It’ll also ensure that customer service agents become aware of changes to products or procedures.

For a knowledge base to be successful you’ll need to appoint at least one person who gets responsibility for adding and updating content continuously. When you combine this with working with Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS), you’ll see a significant improvement in both the customer experience and the agents’ proficiency.

Autonomy

Give your customer service agents the power to make their own decisions. When agents are able to resolve issues without having to get confirmation first, they become more proficient and it improves employee motivation and happiness. If you have procedures that limit what a support agent can decide, make sure it’s listed clearly in the related support article in the knowledge base. Also, document what your support agents should do if a decision is outside their authority.

The more decisions you can have your support agents make on their own, the better customer service they can deliver. It also creates happier agents when they are in a position to make an independent decision and resolve complicated issues themselves.

Lifeline

There’ll always be situations in which a support agent becomes unsure about what to do in a given situation. When these situations arise you need to make sure that there is somebody they can ask for help or a clear procedure for how to handle the situation. In many situations, the agent already knows the correct way of resolving an issue but still needs approval. So when the agent asks for help, start by asking what they think would be the best way to resolve the issue. They’ll likely have the best solution in mind, and over time they’ll learn and improve their first contact resolution rate.

Summary

To empower your customer service agents to deliver excellent service you need to make sure

  • they have access to all the (updated) information they need;
  • they have the mandate to make decisions on their own,
  • and that somebody’s always available when they need confirmation or help with a particular issue.

That’s the sure-fire way to have your agents deliver excellent customer service.

contact center management
call center management
team management
customer service reps
Tue Søttrup

Tue Søttrup has been delivering excellent customer service for more than 20 years, the past 12 years as a manager for several contact centers. Tue is currently VP of Product & Customer Success at Dixa where he's carefully nurturing a small bonsai tree that he calls GenZen.