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Confessions of a customer service agent

July 12, 2021

Using digital technologies for less complex tasks can improve the lot of call center workers, increasing job satisfaction and making time for proper interaction with customers.

“I really enjoy my job,” says Sarah*, a customer service agent working for a public sector organisation, “but we’re treated terribly.” This statement will not come as a surprise to anyone who has worked in a similar role. Customer service agents typically have gruelling roles and often bear the brunt of people’s anger when things go wrong – even if the fault had nothing to do with them.

The daily deluge of irate and even abusive customers can take its toll, leaving agents feeling anxious and lonely. We spoke to anonymous customer service agents about their experiences and the impacts of doing such a job.

“I do find it demoralising,” admits Sarah. “A customer might be getting emotional, and you can’t leave someone in that state even though you know that the next few people are going to have a go at you for calling them late … I’ve had a few sensitive situations that did affect me for a few weeks.”

Along with the challenges of handling upset clients, customer service agents cite the pressure of call targets as the most difficult aspect of the job. “The new manager wants all appointments back-to-back,” says Sarah, “and wants us to handle six customers per hour.”

While the experiences of Sarah may be common, they are not inevitable. Digital technologies can transform the experience for employees, customers and managers alike.

For example, automated customer service tools can provide consumers and clients with more and better self-service options, enabling them to easily access the information they’re looking for without having to wait in a queue for a call handler to be free. In turn, customer service agents have fewer calls to respond to and can therefore focus on the more complex enquiries.

Digital customer service workflows can further reduce workloads by using virtual agents to deal with common requests, again freeing up staff to concentrate on those issues that require human intervention. Automation and artificial intelligence can also collect information up front, making it easier for agents to resolve those cases that do come through to them.

 

“Automated solutions can also augment frontline employees’ response capabilities, which can enhance customer service delivery and provide more rapid customer service recovery when a service failure occurs.”

 

Companies using the customer service solutions offered by the digital workflow provider ServiceNow have reported improvements across a range of key metrics, including staff satisfaction scores and the level of service provided to customers. At the insurance software brand Cheshire Datasystems Ltd (CDL), there was a 50% reduction in calls and emails to the service desk, and it took just five minutes to process certain customer service requests that previously took hours.

Likewise, Basware, an invoicing and payment company, reported a 75% reduction in customer response times, a 30% decrease in resolution time and an 11% increase in customer satisfaction scores.

These changes benefit the employees who handle the calls and enquiries. At the digital services firm Capita, the staff satisfaction rating rose to 85%, while the higher education provider Deakin University witnessed a 33% increase in staff satisfaction compared with the previous year. At SmarTone, a telecommunications provider, employee attrition fell by 50%.

Indeed, while there might be a perceived tension between automated and human customer service, these types of IT solutions show that automated workflows can allow customer service agents to be a more human face of a business – and, ultimately, to feel that they’re treated as human in themselves.

 

Want to know more about automation workflow for customer service? 

 

Visit us at: Handcloud Solutions

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