AI, advanced training can keep issuers' customer service from falling behind

Register now

Issuers and financial services companies operate in a dynamic landscape where products change, expand and operate in an omnichannel environment, compliance is critical and customer service expectations keep rising.

As routine customer service queries get increasingly handled by self-service systems, requests coming to the contact center are becoming more complex. Moreover, the boomer exodus from the workforce is exacerbating the problem, with millennial and Generation Z workers expected to pick up the slack.

How can organizations keep up the quality of front-line customer service in this environment? One proven approach is to identify the top-performing agents and “clone” them across all agents of varying aptitude, attitude and generations, and place key information into artificial intelligence and knowledge management.
It is crucial to begin by defining the goals of your customer service organization and ensuring that they are in line with the goals of the business. Then, identify your “best agent DNA,” based on what skills and traits make your best agents the best—who does the job well and, at the same time, represents the essence of your brand? We call these star agents “models” in this article.

Pick the right processes and tools to capture and embody the agent DNA you want to clone. Here are some key considerations. What skills are the most important? What tools can you use to achieve them? How will you know you have achieved them? When will you conclude?

Now you are ready to analyze your agent pool. Which agents have exemplified being a model through performance, knowledge, skills and brand values? When you look at performance, make sure the metrics to gauge it are aligned with business intent. These agents are high in aptitude and attitude. Identify the “makeovers." These are agents with good attitude who need improvement in aptitude. This group holds great potential for improvement and can be cloned to become models.

Now it is time to elicit, capture and embed the “secret sauce” of information (what) and process expertise (how) from the models into your knowledge management (KM) and AI (artificial intelligence) system. You can do it through interviews and by learning from their interactions. Also, make it easy for models to suggest knowledge with the click of a button when they are done interacting with customers. Once captured in the system, that knowledge should be delivered by your KM and AI systems in a contextual manner at the right place and the right time whenever makeovers interact with customers. KM systems make it easy for makeovers to find answers while AI systems like reasoning guide them through processes so they can execute them as masterfully as the models.

Keep regulations in mind when it comes to the who, what, how and when of customer service content, transactions, interactions and processes in the BFSI sector. These regulations often live in documents and flow charts, which should be digitized into an AI system for automated guidance when the agent is interacting with the customer.

Omnichannel customer engagement solutions unify customer interactions across channels—digital, voice, branch office, etc.—for 360 context and service consistency. Such tools make it easy to clone agents not only in your contact center but also across retail touchpoints.

Mavericks are high-aptitude and low-attitude agents. They are capable but often go rogue by not complying with best practices and regulations. In some instances, they may mean well but create damage in trying to be too clever. They need to be managed to the “model” level through ongoing education of noncompliance risks. Of course, radicals should be managed out and so should misfits, who lack aptitude and attitude.

Measuring and managing through analytics is critical for the success of any initiative. Use “control” and “test” groups for benchmarking; make metrics specific and granular (e.g., “within 6 months, makeover agents score 20% higher on satisfaction for complex issues”); go with a robust solution for operational analytics that comes with out-of-the-box best-practice dashboards and reports to get you going quickly; make sure the makeover group knows how much progress it has made through regular feedback.

Most people thrive on recognition of a job well done. Celebrating success is a simple but important step for your organization and, ultimately, your customers.

Consistency is critical to establishing and reinforcing brand loyalty. It not only applies to messaging (which many BFSI companies focus on) but also to the quality of customer service. In addition to making self-service systems smarter, the above method of cloning high-performance agents systematically is a great way to scale service quality. Clone your way to the top in 2017 and beyond.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.