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October 19, 2022 – Duration 00:26:34
Technology should never be a barrier to delivering great customer experiences (CX). With the right training, it won’t be. The real value of your CX tech depends on how well you use it. If agents aren’t using all the capabilities you’ve invested in, you’re missing a critical opportunity to optimize your operation. Boosting technology adoption sometimes can be an elusive goal. But focusing on one thing — agent training — can simplify the process and ensure success. Inna Ekhaus, Vice President of Genesys Beyond, explains how CX managers can leverage agents’ enthusiasm for learning new skills to get more from their tech investments.
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Vice President of Genesys Beyond
Inna Ekhaus is the VP of Genesys Beyond, the organization within Genesys responsible for training customers and partners worldwide on Genesys technology and customer experience. In addition, she leads portfolio design and commercial operations for the Customer Success and Services (CSS) division of Genesys. She’s been with Genesys for five years and prides herself on being an energetic, innovative, and results-oriented leader who surrounds herself with phenomenal people and wholeheartedly believes in the power of the team.
My life is an adventure inspired by the mantra: “Feet on the ground — head in the clouds!s
Here are conversation highlights from this episode, edited and condensed. Go to the timestamps in the recording for the full comments.
Inna Ekhaus (02:32):
I’ve been with Genesys for five years and I have two roles. I’m Vice President of Portfolio Design and Commercial Operations for Customer Success and Services organization. And then I am also privileged enough to have the title of Vice President of Genesys Beyond, which is the large organization within Genesys for training customers and partners on just about everything. We teach skills around our platform. We teach CX skills. We teach skills that are relevant to the business aspect of running a contact center.
Inna Ekhaus (03:26):
Most contact center employees have gone virtual and the training they need to be successful hasn’t kept up.
Historically, the way training happened in the contact center was that a new employee would come in, they would take some sort of e-learning or PowerPoint training, maybe they’d even sit in a classroom with others and absorb some content. Then they’d go into the actual contact center.
They’d look at the people around them. They may mimic some behaviors that they see. They usually have a mentor or trainer assigned to them. And there’s somebody who they work with hand-in-hand to come up to speed, to emulate behavior, who gives them feedback.
Now that so many contact center employees are remote and there’s such a high turnover rate in the industry — 30 to 45% — it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not only retain the staff, but also to train them. That’s where most contact centers find themselves today.
Inna Ekhaus (04:05):
You need to look at it one level higher before you get into the training itself. How do you define an agent’s work, day-to-day? And what’s keeping them employed? It comes down to having meaningful day-to-day work and feeling like you’re accomplishing something, contributing to something that’s bigger than you.
So, how do you take an agent, a role that’s typically dealing with disappointing experiences — individuals who are calling into the contact center, complaining — and translate that into meaningful work that engages an employee and grows that employee over time, so they stay?
No. 1, the work needs to be redefined. These CX employees are really brand agents. And whenever we do our training around CX, that’s one of the first that we say: These are the people who will spend the most time with your customers. They’re going to create the experience. They are your brand ambassadors. So, the education you put in place for them needs to be around, how do you become the best brand ambassador that you can be? How do you answer the phone and problem solve?
Inna Ekhaus (08:40):
There are a few areas where contact centers could focus.
There are a lot of great digital tools that we at Genesys provides and other vendors provide as well, that are underutilized. We have a whole suite of training around the best utilization of digital tools. How do you turn them on? How do you optimize them for your business? How do you, for example, set up bots to divert enough calls so the calls your agents take are truly the calls that you want them engaged in that will build the relationships and the brand image that you want.
And then for agents, training around the delivery of customer experience, how to communicate appropriately, how to build relationships with clients. How do you build empathy? How do you ask the right questions? How do you make sure that your clients feel heard and understood? People leave brands because they feel that they’re not cared for. It’s not technology that’s driving that decision. It’s a person-to-person interaction that causes it.
Inna Ekhaus (10:33):
I want to share an example. One customer came to us saying they need a solution around CX skills for their contact center staff. They have a lot of folks who are relatively new. We recommended our Beyond CX suite, which teaches agents how to provide the best possible experience, how to show empathy, etc. After a three-month trial with 50 of agents they were able to turn their NPS around from -13.8 to 19.4 — a 32% jump after implementing this training program. No other changes were made. Their average handle time decreased by 2.3 minutes per interaction. So, a huge business impact.
That was 100% due to putting a robust training program in place that wasn’t at all related to the platform. It was 100% focused on delivering of best CX.
It’s a comprehensive program. Students go through an e-learning delivery model, then there are interactive practicals. They listen to customer calls, and they’re able to pick up on things like tone of voice and best ways to respond. They practice those skills.
Once that portion of the program is finished, we have training for the supervisors and managers as to how they coach to those skills and help agents get better and better and better. It’s a reinforcement program.
Inna Ekhaus (13:43):
Yes, and if I had a mountain, I’d be standing on top right now screaming this to everyone — because most contact centers, especially most contact centers using Genesys, already have these tools.
In the Genesys Cloud CX™ platform, for example, we have speech and text analytics. So, most of our customer base has speech and text analytics. It can easily be turned on and start listening to interactions between agents and clients. It can pick up on tone of voice and whether an interaction going in a positive or negative direction.
You can build a model within Genesys Cloud CX that picks up on what does a good conversation sound like, what does a poor conversation sound like, and what are the specific skills that need to be developed to go one way or another? Then, by reinforcing with the proper training, you can continually elevate your staff to become better and better and better.
So, again, the technology’s there, it’s just a matter of using it.
Inna Ekhaus (15:12):
It’s always hard to start something new. The inertia is sometimes difficult. So, I would say, if you want to get buy-in quickly, try it on a small population. You’ll see results fairly quickly and get feedback from your agents right away. You’ll see if it’s working or not.
And I can tell you that in a month you’ll see a change, and then you’ll want to see that change propagate. And the best people to propagate change are the people living it.
So, now you have internal stakeholders who’ve seen the results, who will have the excitement, who will have the energy, and it’ll just spread across the contact center without having the resistance that you’d have otherwise.
Inna Ekhaus (16:35):
It’s almost cyclical. An organization invests in their staff, and the staff start implementing the things that they’ve learned, and as a result, their end clients end up being happier. All the typical contact center scores improve — average handle time, first call resolution, NPS.
But then what happens is a result of that, the agents feel good about themselves, they build confidence. They become the brand ambassadors that they’ve set out to be. So, now you have a whole bunch of agents all feeling good about themselves, feeling confident, solving customer problems, what’s going to happen? The customers are going to feel that positivity. They’ll feel like they’re being taken care of, they’ll feel that connection, and then they, in turn, are going to rate the brand higher.
It builds this culture of positivity, of confidence. Your agents aren’t going to be ready to jump ship the first time that they have a hard day because their work is going to be meaningful, and their work is going to be closely related to the performance of the brand itself. They’ll feel that and their clients will feel it.
Inna Ekhaus (17:52):
Retention will improve, morale will improve, engagement will improve.
And that comes with time? You have to have the fundamentals there first. You have to have the right technology. You have to train your engineering staff, so the technology isn’t a barrier to good experience, it enables the good experience.
Once the technology is there and your agent population is properly trained, they become brand ambassadors, then they create the culture in the contact center. And that’s the culture their clients are going to feel and that’s what’ll keep their clients coming back. It becomes this beautiful kind of symbiotic relationship.