Personalization? It’s not just for your customers

How will you make a change that really counts?

You already have a busy, efficient contact center, with hundreds, maybe thousands of agents handling a range of products and campaigns.

You have a good sense of what’s happening, by  already watching the usual metrics – average handle times, longest delay in queue, first contact resolution, average wait times, transfer percentages, agent occupancy rates, conversion and upsell rates, and customer satisfaction levels. Maybe you’ve got some personal favorites of your own, as well.

But what’s the best way to increase the contact center’s business value?

In many cases, you know what could be better. The $64,000 question is what adjustments are possible to make those figures move in the right direction.

To keep the math simple, let’s say your agents earn ten dollars an hour. You’re already using a smart mix of targets, processes and incentives to achieve good performance. Assuming that your operations are working well, it will be very difficult to see a big overall improvement – say, 10 or 15 percent – without a really significant change.

Think what that kind of performance improvement would mean. It would be like having every eighth or ninth agent working for nothing, week in, week out. Or having in essence every agent working for $9 or less an hour, and being happy to do so.

It pays to personalize

How big a change would it be if all your agents, from the most skilled and experienced right down to the newest recruits, worked better and felt better? If they were happier, less pressured, faster, and better at leaving customers with a strong sense of satisfaction?

That’s a lot to ask, I know. But there is one surefire way to make that kind of radical change happen. The answer is personalization.

But we’re not talking about personalizing the message to the individual customer here, at least in the first instance. What I’m talking about is a different type of personalization that’s aimed at the individual call center agent.

This is a neglected area, but it makes an enormous difference. If you can introduce systems that automatically understand when the agent needs information, guide when the agent needs guidance, and offer personalized prompts when the agent is in danger of missing an opportunity, you are significantly strengthening the agent’s performance.

Real-time support for real-world interactions

This is special. This isn’t about support that’s based just on an agent’s pre-assessed skill levels, or on group quality scores. I’m talking about systems that can analyze what is happening in a particular interaction, as it happens, match it with the individual agent’s skills and quality scores, and respond fast enough with personalized guidance to affect the direction the interaction takes and the results that come out of it.

It’s not science fiction or blue-sky dreamware. NICE has such commercial systems in operation now with major corporations in the US, Europe and Asia. There are real contact centers where these technologies are already transforming performance. Within those contact centers, our customers can point to agents whose results, confidence, and enthusiasm have all been boosted by this new approach to agent personalization.

It’s the real-time personalization of the tools, the prompts, and the support for a particular agent, at a particular time and place, in a particular interaction and maybe even in a particular mood, that is revolutionary here. And it’s one of the best ways I know to capture those 10 or 15 percent performance gains, with the people you have now, in the markets you’re working in today.    

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