With the novel coronavirus sweeping the globe, nearly every communication service provider (CSP) in the world has had no choice but to shift its entire contact center workforce to work-from-home (WFH). In WFH mode, agents tangle with the same complexity and manual procedures they did in the office, now by VPN and home broadband. The day to day complexities agents navigate can be a hurdle for CSPs to achieve the world-class customer experience (CX) they want, especially with WFH as the prevailing model.
Here are five common challenges contact center agents can face that CX leaders want to solve:
1. Too many systems, yet there are always more
For any given order, an agent might need to work with separate ordering, provisioning, billing and scheduling systems to run a process or gather status information. As CSPs enter partnerships and make acquisitions, the number of systems can increase as agents navigate partner catalogs and acquired provisioning stacks. Whatever the root cause, agents encounter more systems, rules and procedures to get the job done.
2. Measured for efficiency, yet tasked with manual procedures
Agents are typically measured by how fast they resolve issues, how well they connect emotionally with customers, and whether customers feel they’ve had a positive experience. But they navigate manual logins across multiple systems to repeat task-oriented procedures that do not help them move faster or serve customers better.
Examples of procedural tasks agents might inherit:
- Keying duplicate orders into different systems
- Making account adjustments in the correct billing system
- Checking appointment status in a dispatching system
- Submitting a trouble ticket to the right support desk
- Logging notes and emailing cut-and-paste follow ups to customer
3. Now the office is home
Many CSPs moved their contact center agent workforces home in response to the pandemic. Agents face practical challenges as a result like finding a private place to work and being responsible for equipment moved home from the office that IT normally maintains. Agents must maintain their home phone and internet connections to do their jobs too. At the same time, they have to learn new systems, look after customers and try to hit their performance targets.
4. More new products and devices are always coming
Most CSPs are under pressure to innovate, introduce new offers and sell the latest devices. Anything new needs support, so contact center agents are always exposed to what’s new. Even as CSPs simplify their product catalogs, agents will bear customers’ reactions to change. Yet agents often must rely on recall and how fast they can look up information in the correct systems to help confused or aggrieved customers struggling with change.
As exhibited in the TM Forum Cognitive Contact Center Catalyst, CSPs are now adopting Intelligent Automation to automate prompts that can help agents manage the deluge of data, communicate with customers and to automate processes like ordering, appointment booking and service recovery.
5. Exposed to the battle for customer data
Customer information is targeted by hackers and identity thieves worldwide. Key CSP processes, like number porting and mobile device unlocking, are attacked in schemes like subscription fraud and digital bank account takeover. Data privacy regulations, like GDPR, have become more stringent as a result, impacting how CSPs worldwide handle customer data and compliance. With thousands of agents working remotely who have access to sensitive customer data, CSPs must evaluate the impacts on risks ranging from insider fraud and misuse of credentials to data privacy violations and network security breaches.
One part of the solution may be Intelligent Automation because it could reduce the number of agents that require direct access to sensitive systems and can monitor sensitive systems and processes with auditable logging and automated alerts. With agents working from home for the long term, issues like these will need to be identified and adjustments will need to be made to fully adapt to WFH and optimize contact center performance and CX improvement.