Employee empowerment is to trust the frontline call center agents with decision making for refunds and other matters, since agents tend to make better decisions than their “superiors” who were not involved in the interactions.

By Colin Taylor

The agents on the frontline want to help customers. They want to resolve issues, and to deliver the desired customer experience and the brand promise. Doing these things results in happier customers and happier agents (as they were dealing with happy customers). Not providing the tools to enable the agents to serve customers would be shortsighted and would create friction in the interaction and relationship. Similarly, not empowering agents with the authority to resolve issues also creates friction and unpleasant outcomes for the agent and customer alike.

Incredibly, many organizations limit employee empowerment in the mistaken belief that the agents cannot be trusted with making such decisions. Our experience has shown time and time again that agents tend to make better decisions than individuals who were not involved in the interaction. One client required seven sign-offs to refund a month’s worth of service. We estimated this process cost hundreds of dollars for each $50 refund. What is more, no one on the sign off escalation path could recall not approving a refund.

Since the agent did not have control over approving refunds, they submitted requests whenever the customer requested one, not when they, the agent, felt one was due. When the agents were empowered to make the decision and provide refunds, the number of refund requests actually went down. The agents were better stewards of the company dollars than management had been.

You have already entrusted your front line, consisting of some of the lowest-paid members of your organization with your most valuable asset: your customers. Your customers expect that when they contact you with a problem you will be able to resolve it. Any delay, or excuses as to why it can’t be resolved now, creates friction which as we know erodes customer satisfaction; and degrades both the customer and agent experience. Employee empowerment does require structure, rules, an audit trail and most importantly training, coaching, and guidance, but your agents want to do the right thing for the customer.

You need to get out of the way and allow your agents to serve.

Please Contact ApexCX for all your customer experience needs.

(Apr 27, 2020)