There’s a saying: jack of all trades and master of none. The meaning behind this is that a person has knowledge of a variety of subjects and skills, but might not be an expert in any of them. So while that person can speak about a subject, they are not necessarily the best source available to dive deep into the matter at hand.
This phrase can be applied to numerous industries and roles, however, when discussing customer support agents, it can be even more relevant. Agents are subjected to many types of issues and forms of communication, depending on the business the company does.
While agents should be familiar with a wide variety of issues, their need to balance numerous customer issues simultaneously and resolve issues as quickly as possible often makes it challenging for them to become subject matter experts and at times can actually frustrate customers more than they are helping them.
Traditionally, support organizations have looked to hire support generalists because they can be onboarded quickly and they are able to manage a wide range of low priority issues. But what happens when a customer has a specific problem like a high priority software integration that’s not working? That agent might need to communicate with other departments to find an answer while leaving the customer on an extended hold.
Use Specialized Agents
This is why it’s important to think about agent specialization rather than generalization. Customer support agents who are knowledgeable about products, processes, or systems can help customers achieve first contact resolution. This is especially important for high priority issues that can have a huge effect on the productivity and daily business of customers.
Agents that are experts about a specific aspect of a brand like a product or technical knowledge can improve the customer experience. Their knowledge benefits customers in real-time.
Instead of customers experiencing wait times for research or delays because of internal communications between support and product teams, the agent can improve resolution because they are subject matter experts. Specialized agents have high-level product knowledge and are able to present it with ease to customers.
Their deep knowledge provides a positive and organic experience where the customer doesn’t feel like they’re being moved from queue to queue in search of an answer. Of course, specialized agents should be used primarily for high priority and sensitive issues, or VIP customers who need that personal touch.
Curate Specialized Agents Internally
Specialized agents should start within your existing teams. Through data-driven reporting and Workforce Optimization solutions, you can find agents who would be good candidates. Agents who are able to easily explain solutions to technical problems would be great for deep-dive product support issues. Or an agent who is able to assist high-value customers in heated moments and calm them down to reduce any possible churn.
Promoting agents from existing teams can also provide a morale boost as some agents might feel stagnant in their current positions. It might also be necessary to get new hires as specialized agents. These new support members can contribute new strategies to improve specialized agent teams. The end goal should be to build and grow the specialized agent team to an efficient and effective size.
Apply a Channel-Agnostic Support Strategy to Specialized Agents
Once you have your specialized agent team, they need to be prepared to communicate with high priority and VIP customers across multiple communication channels. Each agent should be comfortable speaking through voice calls and chat at the very least.
Other channels, like SMS/MMS or in-app communication channels, may also be contact options and agents should know how to effectively communicate through them and the best practices to ensure quick issue resolution. But each support interaction should be offering the same support experience so that customers aren’t confused or misinformed by different processes.
Specialized agents also shouldn’t be using individual tools or apps for customer communications. While the channel might differ, the agent experience needs to remain the same so they are able to focus on helping these high-value customers.
This requires a platform that supports and integrates communication channels while offering an easy-to-use user interface for agents. The issues they are presented need their focus and the last thing they should be thinking about is the support platform.
Add Specialized Agents to Your Support Organization
Rather than have a large number of generalist agents to triage through issues, a specialized agent team can be an effective solution to improve the efficiency of the organization as a whole.
As support channels become agnostic, the customer experience will be what retains customers in the long run. Specialized agents are a part of that new strategy.