Last update: 10 Aug, 2021
No, it describes in general terms the support of employees in service and sales. But what exactly does this mean and what is new about agent guidance compared to the good old conversation guide we have been using for years?
To get to the bottom of this topic, I interviewed two experts. I asked Consultant Roland Ruf, who has deep insights into the field thanks to his many projects in the contact centre sector, whether this is a bandwagon that everyone is jumping on or whether the next strategic step to make a centre fit for the future is hidden behind the buzzword. And Marco Kerwitz, who as a product owner knows whether we are talking about technology or magic and who has been accompanying the technological development of contact centre solutions for years.
What exactly is agent guidance?
Roland: The topic is quite complex: it is about giving agents a guide through their interviews. Of course, this starts with the "good old" script, as you called it. But beyond that, guidance means that we really accompany the person through the conversation and support them in initiating the right actions so that the conversation can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion in an adequate amount of time. Not only do the two KPIs that remain important, AHT and FCR, play a role in this, but at the end of the conversation, of course, customer satisfaction and quite classic sales indicators such as cross-sell and upsell.
Marco: I would add here that, above all, the right information must be provided. For example, there must be a smooth transition from self-service to agent service. This is essential, especially to keep KPIs such as call duration under control, but also to spare our customers having to repeat information several times.
Question: How exactly does this look in a real setting?
Marco: Of course, there is perfect technology for this today, and it is not magic. I start here with routing. Today, an ACD and an IVR can do much more than just transfer a call or classify it in a rudimentary way. I call this "smart routing", because it is important that a request is put through to the appropriate employee and, of course, all the information gathered so far. To then visualise this and in the next step present decision support or even a next action, such as an up-sell, makes service an experience. Matthias Riveiro, Partner Customer Practice at PwC Germany, says: "A modern, future-proof customer service needs both: service agents made of flesh and blood and software-based service robots and bots." - and I agree with him wholeheartedly.
Roland: Of course, I would also like to add the classic methods here. Because the right tools are the basis, but training or coaching are still an important component so that employees can deliver perfect service. Because in this way, agents who are "quite good" can really become very good and raise the performance level and thus the service to a better level. We all want more superheroes working in our centres.
Question: So this is about the development of employees?
Roland: Yes, because the "empowered agent" is a fictitious objective, but it is a step in the right direction. We need to trust technology more and more and use it to give agents more decision-making power. Technology provides the framework for this. Because employees can use it to verify their own activities and actions. Of course, the spectrum is wide, and it should be clear that a contact centre rarely consists entirely of "superheroes": as a centre manager, I naturally give a beginner less leeway than an expert, who nevertheless also needs confirmation of their work.
Marco: That's right - I have to be able to recognise that, and that's where technology comes in. Overall, employees should be able to develop further, be given freedom to make decisions and feel more valued. No classic script can do that, I need AI-based solutions.
Thank you very much, Roland and Marco!
Author: Julia Ullrich