5 Ways to Reduce Agent Effort in Customer Service

You know how the old saying goes: “Happy agents, happy customers.” And although recent research has proven this adage to be true, achieving success hasn’t been simple.

While there are many factors disrupting our agents’ happiness, one is now squarely in control of customer support leaders — ensuring that agents have the right information to solve customers’ problems at first contact.

This article was co-written by Devin Poole, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and Ashley Garst, Senior Content Editor, at Coveo, a Genesys AppFoundry Partner.

You know how the old saying goes: “Happy agents, happy customers.” And although recent research has proven this adage to be true, achieving success hasn’t been simple.

While there are many factors disrupting our agents’ happiness, one is now squarely in control of customer support leaders — ensuring that agents have the right information to solve customers’ problems at first contact. And that information comes in two forms: the right company knowledge and context about the customers’ recent digital behaviors.

When we provide these key ingredients to success, your agents’ jobs gets less murky, and they can effectively resolve problems. With the rise of Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) as a primary driver, companies are focusing on consolidating the agent experience into a limited number of systems. But the missing ingredient is a focal point from which to address multiple issues holistically.

One potential option for this is artificial intelligence (AI)-based search, which can be the throughline for your digital experience. In this article, we’ll explain the potential benefits of reducing agent effort (so you can identify goals) and the different steps you can take to achieve success.

Benefits of a Stress-Free Agent Experience


Your employee experience affects the customer experience (CX) your provide — and vice versa. Having engaged agents helps foster customer happiness.

Gallup reports that companies that invest in an engaged workforce are 21% more profitable, as well as 17% more productive. And, according to the Connected Customer Experience report from Genesys, the top three most important aspects of customer service are, in order: service from an agent who makes it clear they understand the customer’s needs; a speedy resolution; and personalization.

Issue Resolution.

The world of customer service and support has changed massively since customers have become decidedly digital-first. And those changes were cemented in a post-pandemic world.

Especially when known and documented, customers prefer to resolve issues on their own via self-service. But if self-service is disconnected and disjointed — or if their issue is novel and complex — customers will need to talk to a human agent to achieve resolution.

After all, 88% of customer service journeys start in self-service, but eventually end up touching multiple channels including phone, live chat, and email.  This is especially important with younger cohorts, as 38% of Gen Z and millennials are more likely to give up on a customer service issue if they can’t resolve it via self-service.

This means helping customers seamlessly transition from self-service to assisted support is important. Agents must also be well-equipped to help once the need arises, meaning they need access to information, too.

Onboarding and Training.

The agent experience starts even before the actual hiring process. So, if you really want to invest in your staff, onboarding is crucial.

After all the effort of finding, reviewing, evaluating and selecting a candidate, onboarding shouldn’t become an afterthought. Agent turnover can have profound business consequences.

Helping agents get started quickly makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t make sense is having them access information in 50 separate places to do so.

Giving agents access to information that’s centralized, personalized and even proactively recommended will improve training and can make them feel welcomed. When agents are invested in their experience, they become invested in your customers. And that’s a win for everyone.

How to Reduce Agent Effort

  1. Implement a knowledge management practice

If you haven’t already, it’s time to look at the content and information you know is available — and to start digging into what you might not be aware of. Put yourself in your agents’ shoes.

It’s hard to answer questions when you don’t know what’s out there. If your company hasn’t already, it’s time to implement a knowledge management practice. The Consortium for Service Innovation is a great resource for applying knowledge management into knowledge-centered service.

Many organizations have content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, customer support tools, eCommerce engines and collaboration tools (and often multiple platforms in each category) — each with a search capability within its own information silo. Search can often be overlooked or undervalued, but it’s a critical bit of functionality that helps ease the burden of finding information.

Creating a search center of excellence can help surface content repositories so it becomes clear what employees (agents or otherwise) might need access to. This can also garner buy-in from additional stakeholders, helping them feel invested in creating a holistic employee experience that benefits the company at large.

  1. Unify knowledge access

When workforces are scattered across the globe, accessing multiple knowledge repositories and institutional knowledge (such as workarounds tucked away in OneNote or other application) can become tedious. And when one team has solved an issue, why wouldn’t you want that information made available to all teams?

This was the case for one provider of cloud-based healthcare products and services. The Coveo customer has 400 customer service agents spread across US, Manila, and Chennai, and supports a network of 140,000 healthcare providers.

Its agents searched through seven siloed repositories, ranging from an in-house platform, Microsoft SharePoint and an internal hard drive that stored release notes. Agents also created their own OneNote compendiums to track links, file locations and workarounds.

While you might think all knowledge needs to live in one central repository — this isn’t the case. Instead of expanding your workplace tech stack, think about connecting.

The provider implemented the Coveo unified index, enabling them to index all content sources into a unified search experience. By embedding access in a familiar interface, such as the search box, the company elevated and streamlined the agent experience without massive interruption in their day-to-day.

The results speak for themselves — an 18% increase in agents using manual search, and of agents who do search, more than 75% of clicks are on documents boosted by the Coveo ART machine learning model.

  1. Empower agents to pick up where a customer left off in self-service

Novel or complex issues might still need human help. When customers reach out to your agents, ensure your customer care team has an advantage by letting them know where the customer’s self-service journey ended.

Streamline conversations by surfacing not just documents related to a case and what might solve the problem a customer is calling about, but also what that customer has tried prior to contacting you. This gives agents those much-needed contextual clues that help them respond with empathy — and help customers get back on track.

These insights can include queries attempted and results received, which web pages they visited, and what documents they’ve read — all in a single view.

  1. Offer help proactively to ease complexity

Where do you start when you’re faced with solving a problem no one has seen before? What about if that problem has several layers that separate it from achieving a resolution?

Pieces of the answer might lie in existing enterprise documents. Instead of placing the burden of figuring it out solely on your agents, give them a head start with generative AI. This technique can synthesize the most important details and give agents easy access to them.  And when generative AI is built on a unified search foundation, security protocols are respected and only the most relevant pieces of information are considered. Plus, by offering citations, agents are enabled to dive deeper if needed.

If there’s concern about introducing hallucinations, consider a generative AI solution that uses advanced Retrieval Augmented Generation. This method safeguards generative accuracy and trustworthiness. Additionally, offer citations to show where the synthesized answer came from.

It’s also important to give your agents access to this network with an information swarming button (sometimes called intelligent swarming) that’s implemented right in their flow of work. This button can underpin and connect the swarming system together via a communication system like Slack or Teams – and capture new information after it’s been developed.

  1. Offer embedded training

Customer service agents are like jugglers — not only are they masters of navigating company systems, but often, they’re also searching information resources for answers at the same time. They’re doing this while talking to customers via phone and digital channels and simultaneously taking case notes for that interaction to potentially become a new knowledge article (if needed).

That’s a lot, especially for new agents who also must learn about the company, its products and its customers.

To mitigate escalations and empower staff to tackle the new challenges that come their way, give them the right information at the right time, regardless of support interaction, with AI-powered search. When its accessible right from within their everyday interface, they can search for needed information, be proactively provided with content recommendations that can mitigate a search entirely and help them be aware of what’s out there without having to keep everything in limited memory.

Experienced staff can also stay on top of new developments, as freshly created and curated knowledge articles come their way — without them even having to look.

Improving the Agent Experience

Your employees are the gatekeepers of brand perception; and your contact center is often the front door to your company.

Choosing a focal point, such as AI search, to build the whole employee journey around creates a connected, consistent experience that ensures everyone has access to current information. This enables everyone to do their jobs well, freeing them from tedious tasks and other bottlenecks.

But that focal point is only one step of many — and the process often isn’t linear. Each company will have its own approach, but this high-level view should provide the framework needed to create a plan to reduce agent effort in customer service, improve productivity and increase proficiency.

To learn more about how Coveo and the Genesys Cloud™ platform can help, visit our listing in the Genesys AppFoundry® today.