Why forming an undisrupted connection between agent and customer is vital to any business
Delivering an excellent customer experience is now more challenging than ever. Contact centre agents are battling an array of noises while working from home, such as crying babies, barking dogs and delivery drivers ringing their doorbells while they try to work. This noise pollution coming from their personal spaces causes distractions limiting their ability to provide that all-important CX. For customers, this is a serious problem. Imagine, for example, calling your bank to make a transfer and hearing the agent’s family chattering in the background while you read out your account number, or even listening to the vacuum cleaner in another room while you explain your health concerns to your GP. You feel a complete lack of privacy, which can quickly translate into a lack of authenticity, too. And for big businesses, this is a sure-fire way to see customer satisfaction plummet. But first, what constitutes an authentic customer interaction? CX Today welcomes Krisp COO, Robert Schoenfield, to tell us about it.
“An authentic customer interaction translates to more of a personal interaction, and that doesn’t mean that customers sharing their personal stories with contact centre agents, but they feel like they’re speaking to somebody who’s not in a big room with 100 others.”
Authentic customer interactions crept up the importance scale during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was down to a spike in phone calls to contact centre agents from those longing to interact with another person during periods of isolation caused by endless lockdowns and those unwilling to experiment with alternative channels on offer. This placed more value on the interpersonal element of CX and as a result, provoked higher CSAT scores, customer loyalty and satisfaction generally.
Schoenfield adds: “The feedback from customers is that they would rather have a little bit of a side conversation with the agent while they’re on hold or waiting for an issue to be resolved. They enjoy talking about the weather, or their plans for the weekend as opposed to listening to ‘on hold’ music or complete silence.
“This helps to form a personal connection between customer and agent. But if the customer feels like the agent is sitting in a room with lots of other people, there is no personal connection. The customer is very aware of the noise and the buzz of others being around. That opportunity for an authentic connection with the customer is lost, and it actually causes the customer to share less.”
Contact centres faced huge challenges of late due to COVID-19. But as nations come out of the pandemic, in an attempt to harness some form of ‘new normal,’ cultural issues in the contact centre have remained.
Traditionally, the technical running of the contact centre is achieved through metrics and KPIs while supervisors would tend to agents on a one-to-one level when they experienced issues with challenging customers, offering up supervision and support. Yet with many agents now working remotely – and on a permanent basis – that one-on-one support is no longer on offer and as a result, contact centres are battling to maintain levels of CX while agents are scattered all over the globe. Add to that mix difficult remote working conditions, such as agents living in noisy urban areas, those with loud neighbours, or even agents living with multigenerational family who have no personal space to do their work effectively. This has created a recipe for disaster for contact centres.
Schoenfield says: “The first thing contact centres did was focus on bandwidth and security – very quickly, within the first four weeks, CSAT scores for those at home tanked due to background noise, with customers feeling they didn’t have any privacy.
“But as soon as that was fixed, those scores turned around massively. One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to get tens of thousands of agents working productively from home and safely. Creating a consistent customer experience, independent of location, was a big issue. Lots of companies don’t realise how closely connected agent experience and customer experience are. You get a bad agent experience that’s going to translate to a really poor customer experience.”
CCW Digital’s Customer Contact Industry Review states that companies continue to recognise the contact centre as a ‘value centre,’ with nearly 68% of companies viewing their customer contact team as more valuable now than it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also revealed that employee well-being is the number one focus for today’s contact centre leaders, with 70% identifying it as a challenge that “keeps them up at night.”
Krisp’s AI powered noise cancelling software has been aiding contact centres throughout the pandemic and beyond by supressing background noise during calls. The solution works by adding a virtual filter between an agent’s microphone and a calling app to act as a barrier to stop background noise passing through the call. It’s the best toolset to help agents really thrive in their home environment, confident that the noises around them aren’t being heard by their customer on the other end. The solution essentially promotes authentic customer interaction and EX as a whole.
Schoenfield explains: “All of a sudden their personal comfort soars and the agents begin to settle in. They don’t interrupt the customer due to being unable to properly hear them clearly, they don’t apologise anymore – it only takes a matter of days for agents, after they start using Krisp, to have the trust and the confidence that it works every time, all the time.”
“And that all translates being authentic. If you’re worried about what’s going on around you, you can’t be present in that customer conversation – and being authentic is synonymous with being present. By removing the distractions between the customer and the agent, stress levels also dramatically reduced.”
The Krisp solution is vital for the success of contact centres moving forward, as it follows research showing that 22% of companies have found that agents working remotely are more productive than those working on-premises. There are multiple reasons for this, as Schoenfield explains.
“They’re happier, they’re more comfortable. And those are really the two biggest things. But I think that’s it’s really about being able to have more time for their family and not having to spend so much time getting to important meetings and rushing around an office. It’s all about balance.”
Noise pollution isn’t a new thing and has sparked numerous issues with offices going back decades. It’s only now that the world has a solution on offer to cancel out those distracting sounds and give businesses the tools they need to really prosper. And with hybrid and remote working here to stay, Krisp’s solution should be a permanent fixture in any workspace.