Danger! Information Overload Kills Customer Experience

It’s happened to us all: You call a contact center, the answer you receive isn’t correct, you have to call back again, and you’re on the phone for 20 minutes or more. Why does this happen? Do agents not care, or do they need more training? Turns out – neither!

It’s true that what agents deliver becomes the customer experience, but we fail to consider what transpires during a conversation from the agent perspective. We train agents to deliver a great customer experience by arming them with soft skills and techniques to manage the conversation and steer it to a positive outcome. However, this is difficult to accomplish when agents must use multiple applications to manage customer data and access numerous documents to provide answers. This confounding transaction path isn’t the agents fault, but rather the fault of the information landfill they have to mine.

No wonder agents have trouble coming up with the right answer—or even the same. Although we live in a document world, agents and customers need answers – not documents. Giving customers the right information when they need it is crucial, and training agents to breeze through the process while maintaining accuracy, sanity, and reducing costs shouldn’t be a pipe dream.

When I ask contact center management about their information landfill, I either get that “wind knocked out of me” expression or denial of the problem. Most seem to know it’s an issue but don’t grasp what it’s costing the organization, so it continues to be ignored.

I equate it to an impact discovery conversation I once had with a marketing vice president who was complaining about how a peer ran the contact center. He said the contact center agents were always giving wrong information to potential customers, and it was wreaking havoc with his marketing plan.  “Answering a phone call isn’t rocket science,” he claimed. “Agents should be better trained.” Admittedly, he had a point, but anyone who runs a contact center knows there’s more to it.

There are those words again: “wrong information.” Agents were giving out wrong information, but the marketing department was partially to blame for constantly changing the materials and sending confusing communications to agents throughout the day. Furthermore, the information and documents were stored in multiple locations which added to agent bewilderment.

It’s a scenario I hear about every day from contact centers, but the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Learn what your call center can do to identify and dig out from your information landfill by attending my session, “Danger! Information Overload,” during the ICUC conference. I hope to see you there, and we can tame it together.

About the author: Chris Lawson is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Lawson Concepts and will be presenting at ICUC 2014.