When speaking with a customer service agent on the phone, most customers want swift, accurate answers and a human experience. These are the findings of a new online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of NICE.

According to the poll, 59 percent of respondents say they most value having issues resolved efficiently and correctly when contacting a company via phone. The poll also uncovered that 23 percent of customers would rather have a real conversation with a person rather than listening to an agent reciting a script.

Surprisingly, being put on hold and waiting to transfer to another representative were of significantly less importance, with 6 percent citing hold time as most important, and 3 percent citing transfers – as long as the customer received a quick, correct answer to their problem.

In short, the survey reveals that what customers really want from your contact center is excellent customer service – and they want it fast.

It All Begins with Employees

Although most customers still prefer voice for their service needs (Forrester research on communication channel preferences), newer channels such as web self-service, e-mail and chat have resulted in high customer expectations for immediate resolution to issues.

The key to meeting these expectations while still delivering the kind of support that generates customer satisfaction, customer advocacy and ultimately, higher revenue?

Employee engagement.

When employees are clear on your business values, inspired by a customer-centric company culture, and empowered to make decisions that can quickly solve customer issues, they are more engaged and motivated to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

Additionally, with the right systems and processes in place, including access to real time services, companies can enable agents to:

  • Provide more personalized support,
  • Quickly communicate with experts in other departments for assistance,
  • Track their performance to better understand where improvements are necessary, and
  • Increase First Contact Resolution (FCR) at a rate that shows customers you value their time.

3 Steps to Better Engagement

In the white paper, Empower Your Agents to Engage Your Customers, Bluewolf, a global business consultant firm, provides three recommendations for delivering the kind of high-speed, high-touch service today’s customers have come to expect.

  1. Arm employees with the knowledge to meet a customer where they are in the process, rather than starting from Step 1 in a troubleshooting script. Recommended strategies include: educating employees, aligning your website with your support services, and using a strong knowledgebase for easy access to information.
  2. Implement the technology and processes necessary to provide great service to customers and employees alike. Having a “single source of truth” – typically a contact center CRM – that incorporates history of customer interactions, proven solutions and access to internal social networks gives agents the confidence they need to stay engaged and better help customers. In addition, systems with multichannel support and prioritization rules based on business processes allow agents to respond to customers using their preferred communication channel without worrying about how to prioritize each case.
  3. Motivate employees with clear, consistent feedback, and recognize outstanding performance. Agents who consistently receive relevant feedback on performance are happier with their jobs, states the white paper. Companies can further motivate employees through incentive programs, including those enhanced with competitive elements and gamification techniques.