Customer Service, Outsourcing, Training & Development

The Growing Importance of the Universal Agent

A colleague and friend recently shared an all too familiar story.

Shortly after the onset of COVID-19, he had an urgent need to speak to his bank.  Over the course of a few days, he tried to make contact on several occasions, only having to hang up each time due to unmanageable hold times.  Finally, after more than a week of trying, he was never so relieved to hear those magical words, “Hello…how may I help you today?”

The very competent young woman wanted to help in the worst way.  Unfortunately, her training was specialized to a limited number of functions, so she wasn’t able to help with his request.  As you might imagine, this led to a frustrating and lengthy cycle of being bounced from department to department before finally finding the person who could solve his specific issue.

With research suggesting that inbound contact center volume has increased by several hundred percent since the start of COVID, this is an unfortunate scenario that many consumers faced and many brands were ill-prepared for.

While self-service and AI technology tools can certainly add value to deflect a reasonable percentage of inbound traffic, at the end of the day there simply is no substitute for a highly competent well-trained representative with an empathic soul to be your customer’s guide, especially during stressful times.

And today, those customers who require live agent support expect more than simply the means to support rudimentary transactions.  They expect timely answers from knowledgeable representatives capable of putting their minds at ease, even if the primary role of that representative is unrelated to the purpose for which the customer is in contact.

The combination of these factors has led to an increased need for highly trained Universal Agents in the contact center environment. While not a new concept, the importance of these key components of a customer experience team has risen dramatically over the past year.

In the most basic of terms, Universal Agents hold a wide variety of responsibilities, from handling basic customer service issues, collections, or product and technical support to engaging in online customer chats, taking orders, and even cross-selling.  Contact Center Pipeline Magazine accurately describes them as “empowered, knowledgeable and highly skilled representatives who have the potential to directly impact customer experience, customer loyalty, brand reputation, and revenue.”

At Servicing Solutions, we’ve experienced great success from the use of Universal Agents on behalf of our clients.  Key metrics are improved, including:

  • First Call Resolution
  • Customer Wait Time
  • Average Handle Time
  • Agent Productivity
  • Net Promoter Score

All of these metrics have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, so the importance of the Universal Agent in the contact center cannot be understated.

As technology continues to fuel the move towards self-service customer service options, brands who refuse to overlook the key role of highly trained human agents will keep their customers satisfied and come out on top.

Ready to explore how to arrive at the right blend of powerful technology tools and highly trained human agents?  We’d love to chat.  Give us a call at 844-877-6583.