The Importance of Developing Empathetic Agents

It’s been called the “Great Reshuffle” — an unprecedented period in the history of work.

Millions of workers worldwide have sought flexibility and fulfillment as they’ve strived to navigate the complexities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and social unrest. In the call center, turnover has been higher than normal — and it is already legendary.

Now organizations are reassessing everything from their business strategies and workforce models to their culture and values as they attempt to meet changing employee expectations.

Learning and development initiatives are taking priority in many companies. In contact centers worldwide, learning new skills is the greatest driver of enjoyment at work, according to the Genesys “Human values” report. In the US, North America (ex. US), China, Latin America and Oceania, 40% or more of the respondents selected learning new skills as a highlight of their jobs.

But there’s a major gap for many companies when it comes to learning. In fact, 71% of respondents in a new MIT Technology Review global survey identify learning and development as an area of the customer experience (CX) employee lifecycle that’s most in need of improvement. And 46% of the 800 surveyed senior executives consider insufficient learning and development opportunities to be one of their employees’ greatest frustrations.

In response, 41% of CX leaders in the MIT survey expect to increase the number of learning and development specialists in their departments. And the survey finds that artificial intelligence (AI)-based coaching and training recommendations will be one of the most widely used technologies for supporting employees in the contact center by 2024.

We’re going to explore some best practices for learning and development programs. And we’ll take a look at BeyondCX, the immersive eLearning program for contact center agents and supervisors that Genesys Beyond recently expanded to meet these new challenges.

Re-evaluating the Agent Learning Environment

As organizations navigate the Great Reshuffle, they must prioritize career development and enable employees’ personal success. This involves creating sustainable programs that connect skill building to career pathing, internal mobility and retention, according to the LinkedIn “2022 Workplace Learning Report.”

But many companies haven’t made this connection between employee skills, career advancement and ongoing business success. Only 10% of HR and business executives say their organizations have a skills database with profiles for all employees.

High inbound volume, an array of channels to support and rising consumer expectations are rapidly evolving the role of agents. Agents are now handling more complex transactions — and the conversation gets even tougher when the customer is already frustrated by an issue they couldn’t resolve through self-service. Agents now need to learn soft skills like how to listen and empathize, in addition to the traditional skills for their role.

And while there’s no shortage of training in modern contact centers, meaningful learning and development has remained relatively elusive, according to the MIT research.

Employee performance technology can be highly effective in helping you:

  • Personalize development: Create a culture of continuous improvement. Empower employees to manage their performance, access assigned learning content and coaching sessions — all while staying on top of their work.
  • Provide the right coaching at the right moment: Train your agents with the right knowledge at the right time. Empower supervisors to perform reviews and agent training during non-peak hours.
  • Gamify your KPIs: Improve performance, enhance engagement and build camaraderie by cultivating your employees’ natural competitiveness.

Take a look at a systematic method for agents and supervisors to build the skills needed to thrive in today’s digital world.

BeyondCX: Powering Contact Center Skills

The Genesys BeyondCX program is a comprehensive, subscription-based eLearning curriculum that equips contact center leaders and agents with the skills needed to bring human and digital interactions together. This expanded program enables agents to deliver a truly unique and meaningful customer experience.

“BeyondCX isn’t your normal soft skills program,” said Annie Kingston, Product Manager, CX Performance Management at Genesys Beyond. “Teaching the agents and leaders in conjunction allows you to create a sustainable environment where providing excellent customer experience is the most talked about conversation. It’s not a once-a-year exercise; it becomes part of your continual development planning.”

Designed with contact center agents and leaders in mind, BeyondCX focuses on continuous learning and knowledge — providing a structured, immersive and programmatic approach to learning. It encompasses a series of brief, light-hearted and engaging episodes featuring interactive motion graphics, audio scripts and video tutorials. Each episode lasts about 20 minutes, plus the time required to complete the additional learning content.

An agent who took the training said, “In my opinion, I really did enjoy the CX Beyond training. The modules were easy to understand: the characters and dialogue made it a bit more entertaining instead of feeling like I was in a classroom. It was extremely educational. It is definitely a program that I believe works and is worth keeping around.”

Another said, “The courses were eye opening for how quickly a call can go sideways…. Since doing the course, I have kept an open mind when someone calls in guns blazing and ready to fight… Instead of getting on that level, I remember it’s not me they are upset with. The course was overall very helpful for me as a tech support agent.”

BeyondCX isn’t a check-the-box training program. Through collaborative exercises and conversations, contact center agents and leaders learn how to build trust, show empathy and tailor the customer experience. It allows them to transform traditional transactions into fluid, context-based interactions.

Knowledge checks in each episode reinforce the content and provide best practices for applying learnings.

A leader reported that his “30-60-90 day dashboard continues to get better as they work though the training and buzz sessions. So far, we are seeing an immediate impact.”

After rolling out Series 1, one company noted “Meetings have not revolved around numbers since the training. Instead, we go over how they relate, feel and how behaviors affect the outcome of calls.”

Ultimately, the program will develop a culture of happy agents who delight their customers and earn their loyalty. But let’s not forget about impacts to important operational goals. BeyondCX can increase productivity, reduce attrition and improve first contact resolution.

A BeyondCX client implemented the program as a part of a larger voice of the customer experience, measuring the quality of customer interactions through customer effort scores; customer satisfaction surveys; and by collecting other qualitative data such as empathy, listening and understanding in agent interactions. With BeyondCX, this organization was able to improve their Net Promoter Score by 32 points and reduce their average handle time by 13%. Now they’re on their way to saving thousands of dollars.

These are just a few of the ways in which organizations can approach the Great Reshuffle and why they should make continuous learning a part of their culture. Making a cultural move involves more than just tactical tips for improving agent productivity; it means organizations must be leveraging immersive learning programs that not only align with employees’ personal and professional goals but also focus on developing empathetic agents. Discover how you can deliver better customer and employee experiences with BeyondCX.