As many as 90% of Americans consider customer support quality when deciding whether to do business with a company, according to Microsoft. In addition, attracting new customers is over five times more expensive than retaining existing ones.
Providing excellent support starts with hiring and retaining quality agents. It then requires investing in the latest tools and technology to efficiently empower employees to succeed. With shifts in market dynamics and demands for work-life balance, providing a great workplace culture isn’t always easy. Below is our list of the top trends in agent support to watch this year:
In response to the historic events of 2020, tens of thousands of support agents transitioned to work from home. What started as an act of necessity proved to yield significant benefits for both employers and staffers. Many companies now are doubling down on work-from-home and making it a standard part of their business model.
Remote workers often are happier, more productive and less prone to turnover. Why? People that work at home don’t need to commute to and from a centralized location which saves time and money. They are free to work within the comfort of their own home, which is more relaxing for many employees. Plus collaborative software now enables real-time connectivity with others, regardless of location.
In contrast, however, are the many workers who relish being in the office and separating home from work. It’s this blend, of work-from-home and in-office, that’s driving a trend toward hybrid workplaces. No longer is it necessary for members of a team to be physically located in the same space. By leveraging collaborative tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams, co-workers dispersed around the globe feel as connected as if they were in the same conference room. Digital access to, and collaboration with, workplace peers has replaced the need for scheduled meetings and live phone calls – in many ways making the typical workday much easier to plan and execute.
Find the Right Balance
Regardless of industry, the modern employee is highly focused on their individual workplace experience. While a competitive salary with benefits remains high on anyone’s priority list, many also are concerned about achieving a strong work-life balance. In response to this shift, employers strive to create a positive workplace culture by encouraging employees to take time for themselves, ensuring staff feel a sense of connectedness with colleagues and implementing employee feedback systems to capture staff perceptions.
Some employees may be willing to take a lower-paying position in favor of a more positive working environment; that’s how important workplace culture has become. This can also be true for support agents who may feel undervalued or overworked. Frontline agents often deal with customers only when the end user is already frustrated or even angry. Taking small actions to support and encourage agents can go a long way. For instance, occasionally providing a gift card to a local coffee shop, recognizing high performers in team emails and gamifying new-hire or ongoing training are great ways to keep agents engaged. Plus showing empathy towards agents helps agents, in turn, show compassion towards customers. Small gestures that support and encourage employees can go a long way toward establishing an environment where people want to work.
Empower Your Workforce
Let’s face it: no one likes to be micromanaged. Most employees want to feel they provide a contribution that’s valued by management. As part of emerging efforts to combat the “Great Resignation,” many employers now actively empower staffers by providing them with the right tools, support and resources to carry out their responsibilities with minimal oversight. But empowerment isn’t the same as total freedom. Empowered agents receive clear expectations and know they are held accountable for decisions. They have a clear sense of what they’re responsible for and who to work with. They have the tools needed to execute each stage of a work-product through completion. And they have direct access to management should a question or issue arise.
Employers also are investing in technologies designed to reduce the workload on individual staff members. While several such technologies exist, AI-based software is among the most promising. Many organizations deploy this technology to facilitate self-service for customer-facing inquiries. AI-based solutions such as chatbots help users navigate rudimentary support issues, thereby reducing the total volume of requests that support agents receive and expediting the resolution process. This leaves agents to hone their training and skills on more complicated, and often more interesting, customer questions.
Managing a robust support department can be quite challenging. Fortunately, there is a better option. By blending the best of today’s work-life strategies with leading collaborative tools, Goodbay offers trained support teams to provide your users with a superior experience across the customer journey. For more information, contact us today!