Empowerment: do we really need it?

Contact centers agents especially front line agents are often took for granted, they are under-respected and under-paid from both their employees and customers, where they are the one performing most stress-full and difficult jobs.

For a few years, industry has been bombarded with the word Empowerment. Empowerment means to give your agents the authority to perform. Now the question is will this empowerment give a benefit to agents or it will be a burden for them. As we all are aware handling calls while managing QA levels is not an easy job.

We are concerned that agents will be victimized by the concept. Leaders will think, “Well, last year, we empowered you! Customer satisfaction scores should be higher, costs per contact should be lower. Revenue should be up. As per our analysis empowerment will place additional unreasonable expectations on agents.

Let’s examine what empowerment actually is and why “decision-making” is a better term for what we want agents to be empowered to do:

What is “empowerment,” anyway?

Leaders are empowered. Can we expect the same level of empowerment provided to agents? Even if a leader makes a bad decision, it will not affect his job but if an agent took a bad decision what would be the consequences of it?

Empowerment is not the right word, we can emphasize on decision making.

Now, let’s talk about the types of decisions we want frontline agents to make. When we trust them enough to make these decisions, and give them the resources and training they need, we’ll enable them to provide extraordinarily good customer service.

Here is what that might look like:

Updating a knowledge base article instead of helping customers

Imagine there’s some kind of crisis and the contact center is slammed – a bug in a software update, and the calls, emails, and chats are mounting. One frontline customer service agent has a great work-around and wants to update the knowledge base article on how to help unhappy customers. If this agent is truly empowered, they can make the decision to take themselves off the phone to update the article.

Staying on the call as long as is needed

An empowered agent know how long to stay on a call or chat or email and when to wrap-up. Do you let your agents stay on the phone as long as they believe they need to? Can they stay on the phone until the issue is fully resolved?

Calling a customer back

Do you trust your agents to decide to make calls, not just receive them? Are they empowered to reach out to customers proactively to see whether they liked their purchase, or if they have any questions about the updated mobile app?

Switching Contact Channels

The customer emailed in with a request for help, but the empowered agent believes live chat will enable them to solve the customer’s problem more quickly and with less frustration. Are your agents allowed to offer to reply to customers in another channel?

Making Expectation to policies

Without asking for a manager’s permission every time, can your empowered agents decide to refund a shipping charge, add a second user to a single-user account, or accept a product for return when your company has a no-returns policy?

When we describe a frontline agent’s level of discretion or responsibility, we owe it to them to choose a term with a single, recognizable meaning. “Empowerment” has an exciting, cape-and-tights superhero vibe, but it means something different in every contact center or customer service team. “Decision-making” is concrete.

About ZRG

Founded in 1994, ZRG International is an ICT solutions company with a major focus on customer interaction technologies and solutions. We offer experience and innovation to help businesses manage customer relationship and achieve higher customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

ZRG has a proven track record of introducing innovations and exciting new possibilities in the customer communication areas. Our line of solutions cover all aspects of customer communication including customer contact center, CRM application suite, quality assurance suite, call center management tools, self-service automation tools, campaign management and teleconferencing. Our solutions are deployed at mission critical contact centers that are being used to provide information, assistance and services to millions of users each day through live agent and self-service based applications.

ZRG has an experienced and knowledgeable team capable of quickly designing and adding tailor-made features in our solutions for site-specific requirements. By using open standards systems, specifications and protocols, we ensure maximum flexibility and future growth of our solutions. We use innovative techniques to deliver latest features and integration capabilities in a most cost-effective manner. Our deployment team has successfully completed all our projects well before the deadlines.

Every day, on every project, we deliver value through our accumulated technical knowledge and project management skills. Our expertise delivers immediate benefits to our clients with cost and time savings. Our solution delivers increased operational efficiency and staff productivity to our valued clients. This is what we do. We deliver beyond expectations.

For more details:-  www.zrg.com

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