Live Agent Series – Part 3

If you have had a chance to read our previous episodes on Omnichannel and Skills-based routing, you have had a chance to grasp how the World has changed in the last decade.

Now, knowing all this, imagine you are hired as a Customer Success Manager at a computer store which has three agents and utilizes a chat button. How would you determine which agent will address what kind of customer request?  The fact is, not every agent is created equal! Some like to specialize in certain products while others might like to know enough generally about all products. 

That’s why there is a growing need to understand agent competencies prior to determining how to handle customer assignments. You might wonder where to start when it comes to competency mapping so let us provide you a step-by-step guide: 

For the first step, an organization needs to evaluate the products or services that are being sold to its consumer base. In order for an organization to have a successful competency mapping, the organization must determine which products will be supported by its customer support services. In other words, what products or services would a user or purchaser be able to reach out for support. Reviewing this as the new Customer Success Manager, we realized that we have 3 products to support: Macbook, Dell Laptop, and iPhone.

In the second step, the organization will match the products and services with customer support and align the correct languages needed to support the product. Because of product availability across multiple countries and continents, it’s important to drill down a list of which specific languages will be needed for a product or service.

For example; if a product or brand is only available in Russia; assigning Spanish as a needed skill could quite possibly cause errors in the mapping. For our computer store, English, Spanish and Turkish were languages required to support customers.

In the third step, it’s important to map out the skills utilized by the organization and how those skills relate to each supported product and service. Once an inventory of skills is created; a standardization process occurs where all skills are turned into universal terms (example: Windows and Windows OS, are combined into Windows OS.)

Once all skills have been standardized, skills are matched to the corresponding product(s) and service(s). All of the needed skills should be assigned; otherwise, the agents will fall short of being able to fully support the product(s) and service(s) being assigned to them.

For our computer store, we determined that Warranty, Subscription Management, Mac OS, and Windows OS are key skills to be mastered.

In the fourth step, skills and languages are assigned to the agents. Languages are assigned based on an agent’s proficiencies (being able to carry on a fluent conversation in a language would make them proficient). When assigning skills consider the team member’s tenure, certifications and accomplishments, and customer success ratings. 

At the end of this step, which languages each agent is proficient in, what skills they have, along with a level assigned to each should be clearly documented/ charted. A (1) would be the lowest skill level (barely knowledgeable) and a (10) skill level would be the highest (skill mastered).

The fifth step is determining what channels will be supported and how each product will be attached to the correct channels. Each channel represents a different way a customer can contact the client: SMS, e-mail, phone call, and live agent are all examples of different channels a customer can use to communicate with an agent. 

Once the available channels have been selected, it’s important to balance them between direct communication and delayed communication. Direct communication is a channel that the customer is expected to be consistently communicating with the agent (ie: live agent chat or phone call). On the other hand: delayed communication is a non-active communication where communication is sent and a follow-up reply is assumed to be sent later (ie: SMS, and email). 

An agent only has so much capacity in a day unless they are working 24/7. It’s a must to balance the capacity between both active and delayed communication. A simple approach would be to assign the agent only three live chats at a time and five emails that they are expected to work on at a time. This way, the agent can respond to emails between the live chats.

The sixth step is the final stage where the competency map is visually built. Products are at the top of the map and the languages apply to them directly underneath, followed by the skills required to successfully support each product. Agent skills and languages have been aligned to the products, the agents who match those requirements are placed under the product, followed by the channels they will use to communicate. 

Here is a nice video on competency mapping:

 

With the visual complete, at a quick glance, it can be identified what products are supported, what those products require to be supported successfully and who is supporting the product. In our scenario, it looks like this:

When new products and services are added, the structure is already built to support them on the map. It would be as simple as adding those to the map and attaching agents that meet the required skill set. 

Are you interested in competency mapping templates or willing to get a second opinion on your competency mapping exercise? Please contact us so we can help you out.

In our next episode, we will talk about how you can build a World-class contact center workforce by coaching them for success and getting the most out of all customer conversations. Stay tuned!

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