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Are you just paying lip service to agent empowerment?

Call centre agent empowerment is a good thing right? It’s certainly talked about a lot in our industry and there are numerous agent coaching consultants, training companies and even technology providers offering to empower your agents.

But sometimes I find myself wondering if we truly want to give our frontline customer service representatives the trust and freedom that is required to really empower them.

Are we just paying lip service to the idea?

First off, I am one of those who believe that agents are the most under-valued assets in your contact centre. Many of them are caring, committed, conscientious people who want to do a good job, and ultimately increase customer experience. But all too often CRM systems and processes let them down and they become tired, cynical and de-motivated employees.

The problem is that contact centres are built around processes and processes don’t always recognise the human element of good customer service! And to be fair, it is difficult to build a process that meets with industry regulation, brand guidelines and the multiplicity of complex problems that your customers might bring to an agent.

But it’s not impossible...

In my opinion an even bigger problem is the mechanical way too many of our contact centres are run. Take call handling targets. Imagine the scenario where a motivated, conscientious employee is unravelling a tricky enquiry but needs another five minutes to really resolve the problem and knows this will exceed his call handling target.

What should he do?

Solving tricky questions like these offers the real route to agent empowerment. In my next two blogs, I’ll explain what happens when call centre KPIs fail to deliver the right customer experience and offer some tips for empowering agents without unleashing anarchy in their contact centre