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Tools Over Rules

Posted on Jul 14, 2014

Traditional business paradigm reflects the age-old maxim that knowledge is power, and in many ways that idea is just as true today as it ever has been. In contact centers especially, knowledgeable agents can breeze through interactions with customers, quickly answering questions and offering “cookie-cutter” solutions by rote. Common logic says this is as good as it gets, and many contact center managers consider this to be the Holy Grail of customer service. However, for many reasons, it is not necessarily true.

Consider the dynamic nature of “knowledge” in many contact centers. Agents may be required to switch from one campaign to another on the fly, or to handle calls for many different products or services. The volume of information that agents are often expected to memorize can be unreasonable, if not impossible, to justify. Sometimes no amount of training can adequately prepare employees to address every question they will be asked. Instead of efficient, accurate answers, this sort of information overload can create increased hold times, return calls, or inaccurate work. In the worst cases it can even lead to burnt-out representatives and high employee turnover.

The solution to this problem lies in a new maxim: tools are better than rules. Humans naturally desire to learn and to solve problems on their own. Memorization is fine, and the more details that agents can commit to memory, the better. Greater success can be expected, however, by providing agents with a robust set of tools that allows them to access the necessary information on demand, in addition to quality monitoring. Rather than being bogged down by minutiae, software can be designed that empowers agents to find the important answers exactly when they are needed, or to automate and error-proof complex processes. In this way, users can be trained in a fraction of the time and counted on to provide a much more standardized product. They’ll also feel like they did it all on their own, and they’ll go home at the end of the day with a greater feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. It is the very definition of a win/win situation.

We live in the future. Technology can limit and distract us, or it can empower and free us to achieve in ways we never imagined before. In the end it comes down to the choice between tools and rules.