It was half past midnight on a rather cold Thanksgiving night. The bay was quiet. A handful of customer support agents like Evelyn were diligently attending to customer calls, tracking refunds, and sending follow-up emails.
For Evelyn, it was just another day at work. As she was about to call it a day, she got a call from a customer residing in El Paso, Tx. An elderly woman, in her 60s, was having trouble connecting to the internet with her brand new smartphone. The troubleshooting steps and FAQs on the brand website didn't help.
The woman had a laundry list of things she wanted to do: send her friends holiday wishes, video call her grandkids, and post pictures of her freshly cooked turkey on Instagram. But without internet access, she couldn't do any of those things.
As Evelyn started speaking to the sexagenarian, she realized that this wasn’t your average customer call. It was a call that needed strong technical expertise and consultation from tech specialists – but none were available that day. What would have otherwise been a fairly easy fix was taking forever.
Evelyn kept calm but, more importantly, ensured the customer was in good spirits as she worked her way toward a solution. Soon enough, Evelyn realized that it was perhaps time to seek help from guided workflows, which contain instructions for diagnosing problems, troubleshooting, repairs, and other key support tasks.
Presto! It worked.
The customer thanked Evelyn from the bottom of her heart for being so prompt and courteous in solving her problem. Evelyn took a deep breath, removed her headphones, and wished her colleagues good night, still trying to absorb the high of being appreciated and thanked today.
But it is not every day Evelyn receives a 'thank you’ note from customers. Some days are overwhelmingly tough and draining for agents. In fact, delivering exceptional customer support often feels like a three-way tug of war between influx of tickets, the agent’s temperament, and tech limitations.
Let me give you a glimpse into Evelyn’s daily routine.
But before that, let's understand Evelyn and her role better.
Note: while most of the tasks and responsibilities will be pretty similar for most customer support representatives, depending on the industry and function they work in, there's bound to be a few minor, but highly specific, differences.
Right after reviewing her calendar and to-do list, Evelyn joins her manager and fellow agents on a huddle. The team plans the day's activities that involve assigning queries obtained from different channels to agents. They also evaluate high-priority requests and escalations and brainstorm ways to handle them.
One of Evelyn’s responsibilities is to adhere to service level agreements (SLAs) while providing omnichannel customer support via channels like chat, email, social media, and SMS, and she also documents critical cases in the knowledge base software. Agents like her spend almost 90% of their workday attending customer calls without breaching the SLA. Standard SLAs include 80% of calls answered before three rings, 90% of chat requests accepted within 10 seconds, and 100% of emails replied within 24 hours.
Evelyn goes the extra mile in following up with customers, especially ones who couldn't get their issues resolved at first contact. She often has to collaborate with various internal teams to gather more granular customer information to resolve tickets more effectively.
Soon, it's almost time for her to log into the CRM system and update customer information right from contact details to complaint history.
Occasionally, Evelyn attends training and feedback sessions which could either be about the product or soft skills required to handle difficult customers. Timely feedback on call quality helps her handle customer issues more independently.
Every solution offered to a customer can turn into a valuable learning experience for any support agent. And that's why Evelyn reserves a few minutes to document the learnings in the knowledge repository so any new agent facing a similar situation can refer in need.
Next, she follows up with customers who had raised serious concerns about a product or service or had to wait in a long queue during the last interaction. She does that by sending an email or simply calling them on their numbers. As Forbes points out in one of their articles on follow-ups, "this can be as simple as a "just checking in" email that goes out a certain number of days after the purchase, a card in the mail to follow up, or a personal call outreach. Evelyn puts in a little extra effort to ensure that her customers don’t feel taken for granted, even remotely.
Customer care is definitely a role suitable for brave hearts only. Every day, agents like Evelyn face a new challenge and devote long working hours to resolve it. And there are times when Evelyn needs to work beyond her shift timings. Worse, inconsistent hours drain her completely, leaving her with little energy to do things she loves the most once she gets home. But ask her any day, and she will tell you how much she enjoys helping customers, despite facing a barrage of complexities every day.
From writing journals and listening to her favorite playlist to cooking a warm meal while watching Netflix, Evelyn just chills for the rest of the day, so she can wake up fresh and take on new challenges.
According to Microsoft, 90% of consumers choose to do business with an organization based on the quality of its customer support. This statistic confirms how support agents' understanding of customer needs directly impacts a company's bottom line. As for Evelyn, she loves to help her customers and, at the same time, hone her problem-solving skills.
But that’s not all. Amidst overwhelming challenges, burnout, and stress, Evelyn has to keep her cool. Part two of this blog will address Evelyn’s struggles of being a Gen-Z support agent in more depth. Stay tuned!