contact center agent knowledgeMany organizations typically struggle with the cost and effort when it comes to on boarding new agent resources into the contact center. In some cases, many weeks of training and expenses are wasted when a customer service representative (CSR) decides that they don’t like the job and leaves the company. This challenge isn’t new to contact center leaders, but recently I’ve discovered an important area of on boarding and training that appears to be overlooked.

I’ve recently been talking with several organizations about their processes around ongoing training practices and managing knowledge for existing staff to keep up with evolving customer needs and new business opportunities. How often do you as a contact center leader send an email communication out to the entire CSR or agent staff advising them of a new product offer or process change? Do you have confidence that it was read, understood, or even interpreted correctly by the staff?

What we regularly see is that most companies are relying on quality assurance reviews and side-by-side manager meetings to monitor and assess agent knowledge and skill levels. Given the fact that usually less than 1% of interactions are recorded and actually reviewed, the chance of actually identifying a knowledge gap around a specific new piece of information using this method is very unlikely. The most common way that companies become aware of problems in agent or CSR knowledge is hearing customer complaints as they happen. This is too late!

The importance of knowledge as part of a customer experience was illustrated very well in a recent study from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI). The survey focused on a population of customers who categorized themselves as dissatisfied. The survey used a scale of 1-5 with 1 being extremely dissatisfied, and 5 representing extremely satisfied. Customers who were dissatisfied with the experience and attributed the frustration to long queue times (some up to 2 minutes) never scored their level of dissatisfaction lower than a 3. However, the customers who placed the focus of their dissatisfaction on the knowledge level of the representative that assisted them always gave an overall score of 1.

With customer engagement and customer effort being top of mind for virtually all companies and organizations today, it’s never been more important to identify areas of frustration and dissatisfaction – and agent knowledge and skills should be one of the first places you look.

Customer confidence is significantly damaged when agent knowledge is questionable or inconsistent. If customers feel that the agent is not fully confident in the information or answer provided, they will call back into the contact center to get another answer. Or worse, they’ll call your competition! Either way, it costs you money and can result in lost revenue.

Unifying Skills and Knowledge Gaps and Agent Training

Getting there requires the ability to bring a range of training, assessment and quality practices together. Leading companies are leveraging technology to unify these environments, including:

  • Training
  • Assessment
  • Resource Skill Assignment
  • Interaction Routing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Reporting

Bringing these areas together allows you to match training delivery to demand, along with the ability to constantly evaluate training message effectiveness, monitor customer satisfaction, and measure business outcomes.

Agents and CSRs are the face of your company – often interacting with customers more than anyone else across your business. Are you doing all you can to make sure that they possess the proper tools and knowledge to provide a great customer experience to your customers?

To learn more about resource skill development and assessment, click here. You can also check out our interactive brief on Five Steps To An Employee Effectiveness Model.