Agent Interaction

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Agent Interaction

What is agent Interaction?

An agent interaction begins when the agent sends the first message to the customer query.

Agents end up requiring more knowledge from the customer or more time for the developers to take a glance at the problem. Sometimes, they mess up and hand out the wrong answer, which ends up extending the exchange to other agents.

The average number of interactions an agent requires to resolve a query is a measure of how well the agent knows the product or service, and how good he is at communicating that to the customer.

The average number of customer interactions for a particular customer’s tickets shows whether the customer is a new user or a power user and if they are understanding or aggressive.

It’s always advisable to keep the average agent interaction low, as it is directly proportional to customer disappointment/frustration. 

Agent Interaction
Source: SpringerLink

What are the types of agent interactions?

1. Diagnose Problems and Resolve Complex Situations

If a customer has chosen to speak to a human agent rather than use self-service options to address an issue, then chances are that problem doesn’t have an easy solution. These types of interactions comprise the lion’s share of calls that agents field on a daily basis. According to Gartner, nearly half (47.9%) of phone-based contact center interactions fit this description.

Under these circumstances, customers are looking for agents to help diagnose the underlying problem and find a solution. It’s fair to assume that the caller has exhausted most, if not all, of their self-service options.

Given that the customer has likely attempted to fix the problem on their own or using the digital portals at their disposal, agents need to be cognizant of any frustrations the caller may be experiencing. Rehashing information that has already been provided or suggesting actions that the customer has already taken will only cause more friction. Contact center tools need to integrate with agent-facing systems and interfaces so all of the entire customer journey up to that point is clearly laid out in front of the representative.

Agents also need to be quick and decisive with their support, and agent assist tools that guide them toward the best course of action given a customer’s specific situation can speed the resolution process up significantly.

2. Gather Info, Explore Options, and Work Around Existing Policies

Some customer requests will be well-documented and can be effectively managed by referring to established company policies. However, there are plenty of interactions — Gartner puts the figure at nearly 10% of all contact center calls — that will involve working around those policies. For instance, a customer may want a refund after a warranty has expired.

Navigating these requests is incredibly tricky, and requires a keen understanding of business policy and the ability to run a quick cost-benefit analysis of going against those guidelines. It’s a difficult line to walk for even experienced contact center professionals. Most contact centers empower their agents to use their discretion and authorize them to issue credits, or work with their supervisors to process such exceptions in line with best practices. While this is a reasonable approach under current circumstances, there are plenty of risks to consider — customers who engage in high-effort interactions are likely to churn eventually; the contact center may resolve similar customers very differently leading to an inconsistent customer experience that deviates from the brand promise; the business may lose revenue while trying to accommodate workarounds that are not warranted. 

Real-time agent assist tools can go a long way toward identifying circumstances where it makes sense to work around policies and knowing when to stand your ground. Putting more analytics in agents’ hands can be extremely helpful as well, helping them better understand the commercial value of their actions when addressing these types of situations. In many cases, contact center agents help your customers understand your brand promise and relate to your processes. With the right real-time assistance, you can equip your agents to process a workaround request both in compliance with your best practices as well as with empathy for your customers.

3. Validate the Customer Experience With Empathy and Advise Customers

The contact center plays an important role in the overarching customer and business relationship. Customers may turn to contact center agents for validation after they have run into issues with other areas of the business — say, a pushy salesperson — want to be heard.

A sympathetic ear is critical, and it’s important to also be analytical to understand why the customer is seeking validation. If a customer is placing an order online and calling back to understand order status, a well-trained agent might be able to address that request quickly and move on to the next customer. However, the right agent assist solution can capture insights from the dialog between the customer and the agent to hopefully prevent such a call in the future. Perhaps, the customer called back because the shipping information shared online isn’t clear especially for back-ordered items. The best solution to this problem requires the necessary changes to the customer’s online experience.

While some of these interactions might require the agent to recommend an alternate course of action, the rest don’t necessarily have an immediate problem that needs to be solved. It can be enough to simply listen to the customer and let them know that their concerns are valid and that the company is working to make things right. Advanced speech analytics platforms can be helpful in terms of identifying and documenting these interactions for later review. Again, real-time agent assist platforms can provide the guidance representatives to navigate such delicate situations. 

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