Walk in an Agent's Shoes
Last week, I had the good fortune to moderate a panel discussion on creating memorable customer experiences at inContact's annual user conference, ICUC 2013. During the discussion where we examined some of the components that are needed to generate exceptional customer experiences (people, processes, technology, and metrics), one of the panelists, Amy Latzer, Chief Operating Officer at 2-1-1 Los Angeles County, made a terrific recommendation for contact center leaders to better understand what it's like to be an agent - spend some time fielding customer calls.
As Latzer noted during her comments, contact center leaders don't have to spend an entire day handling customer calls. But even a couple of hours can enable customer service leaders to gain some perspective on the various challenges that agents have to contend with on a day-to-day basis along with steps that can be taken to address those challenges.
For instance, by donning the headset and sitting in front of an agent screen (or screens), contact center leaders can gain a deeper understanding of process or technology snags that might make it difficult for agents to support customers effectively.
Many contact center leaders start as agents and rise up through the ranks. And while a fair number of contact center supervisors often sit alongside agents periodically to identify opportunities for coaching, some supervisors lose touch with what it's like to actually be an agent. Peppers & Rogers Group founding partners Don Peppers & Martha Rogers, Ph.D. frequently recommend walking in a customer's shoes to help understand what it's like to be a customer of your company and how easy or difficult it may be. Walking in an agent's shoes - or at least planting one's feet at an agent's station for a few hours - can go a long way toward understanding what it's like to be an agent and to help identify opportunities for improving the agent experience which can ultimately help to improve the customer experience.