Many businesses are challenged with the ability to utilize their technology investments to their fullest potential.
Facing obstacles such as changes in demand due to seasonality, exponential company growth, adverse events or tightening budgets, businesses must learn to utilize these technologies without increasing their operational costs.
Retail leader, The Children’s Place was faced with such a challenge in 2009. Experiencing rapid company growth, they had to determine a means of scaling their customer service program which included Astute Solutions’ ePowerCenter, without increasing their operational budget.
Ultimately,The Children’s Place partnered with 24-7 Intouch to implement our Certified Labor Solution, which deploys best practices around Astute Solutions technologies with a focus on maximizing agent efficiency and productivity, resulting in optimized technology ROI return.
Below we outline the best practices we deploy and the agent certification process we go through to ensure that our agents are trained and knowledgeable on the technology solutions which they must utilize daily to provide effective and efficient service.
Defining Certified Labor
The 24-7 Intouch Certified Labor Solution was developed to deliver a complete experience from the moment the customer engages with a company’s brand. This proactive engagement can take place over all channels – phone, email, live chat, mobile chat, and social media sites.
There are two main ingredients for success in our Certified Labor Solution. The first is the Astute Agent Certification process itself which many contact centers seek to accomplish to one degree or another. However, given the volatility of agents in a contact center environment, the second pillar, the operational service delivery team, the support structure behind the frontline, is what truly differentiates and drives our Certified Labor Solution success
Fundamentally, our agent certification process can be broken down into a) selecting the right people for the program, and then b) graduating from our Astute University program.
Our first step is building an Ideal Agent Profile in collaboration with our client. This
profile is critical in ensuring we have the right candidate with the right skill sets to service the account. Once a prospective agent meets our profile criteria, the next test is to certify based on the technology. Before hired, prospective agents must be comfortable with technology and be able to navigate our tools efficiently from the onset. If they meet our initial testing they will move to the next phase and focus on training to become experts on our CRM, Knowledge Management and Social Media ManagementSolutions, known respectively as ePowerCenter, RealDialog and Astute SRM.
Once an agent successfully graduates from our Astute Certification, the second phase is to go through content curriculum models developed specifically for our client’s program. The key principle for Certified Agents is that everything is related back to Astute Solutions technologies and how to find the ‘one right answer’ the customer is looking for.
At the end, of this certification process, what you have is a scalable labor pool skilled in the navigation of Astute Solutions software, who are knowledgeable on the program and brand, and feel empowered to suggest layout changes to further optimize our client’s workflow.
Support Structure Behind the Front Line
"If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got" - Mark Twain.
Products, services and most importantly our customers are continually changing, thus holding status quo after a successful program launch isn’t the path to success. Through our supporting Operations Team, we deploy joint technology, contact center operations, and customer engagement best practices to create a unique customer care solution. Examples include:
- Technology Reinvestment – By working together with Astute Solutions on feedback for new software versions or redefining the reason codes and disposition hierarchies for our clients, there is effectively no steady state, but instead perpetual melioration. This continued reinvestment made by our company empowers agents with contextual knowledge of the technology and how it is tailored to their role.
- API advancements – As part of our Certified offering, our Operations Service Delivery team is actively making direct changes and suggesting API enhancements, working to maximize the benefit of the CRM and ultimately reduce the overall labor cost. By running reports on the system to determine how best to enhance the technology for its next iteration, our team can suggest ways to enhance the API for compatibility. This ultimately leads to the improvement of the knowledge management process for our clients.
- Feedback Loop – With a moving target on the knowledge our agents must poses, our “feedback loop” is a key design framework, to ensure that the content they have to access is always current. Via this created loop, and behaviour instilled in the agent certification process, agents actively suggest new content, and our Optimization Manager filters this fountain into concise data which can then be managed effectively and shared within our team.
- Content Optimization – Content Optimization Managers are a value added resource within our solution, continually monitoring and updating the agent database ensuring they have the most effective responses at their fingertips. Our content specialists effectively choose the right information to include, in a language our agents can use to relate to the customers.
All of these techniques, which come from an expert service delivery team, are the basis of our Certified Labor Solution. They act like the Wonderful Oz behind the curtain, pulling the right levers at the right time to ensure our agents are set up for success. Ultimately the increase of the efficiency, quality and productivity of our agents is realized, which is a ROI success story for all stakeholders involved.
This blog post was originally posted on the Astute Solutions Blog.