Years ago Salesforce wrote a blog post that still resonates with me to this day, and not just because the title is so apt. Despite its simplicity, Happy Customer Service, Happy Customers hits a lot of common-sense notes that other articles before and after it have failed to illustrate. Consider its first expertly crafted paragraph:
“With more than half of customers willing to pay more for a guaranteed better experience from the businesses they give money to, it’s more important than ever to ensure that employees at the front lines of customer communication provide exceptional service. One way is by offering the best possible experience for the customer service agents. Higher job satisfaction will lead to better customer experiences, improved employee retention rates, and increased referrals. When customer service agents feel a sense of loyalty to and purpose with the company they work for, they are more likely to not only stay in their job, but to stay if the company goes through a rough time.”
Part of Panasonic’s mission was to bring its outsourced customer service agents together in a sense of community to increase continuous learning. The other part? To maintain high levels of customer service agent retention and engagement to boost high levels of customer retention and engagement.
See what we did there? Happy customer service, happy customers. Read on to hear about Panasonic has worked with Fuse to successfully launch what immediately became the best and the brightest customer service L&D platform out there: Spark. If you’d like to download the full case study, click here, but if you’d like just a few of the top highlights, read on.
The Importance of Learning in the Flow of Work to Engage and Retain
L&D is probably not the first department that springs to mind when it comes to retaining call centre agents, particularly outsourced call centre agents. But Panasonic had worked hard to identify key gaps in customer service agents’ training and day to day workflow, and it turned out that its L&D programme, which featured rather ‘front-loaded’ onboarding and training, was not encouraging engagement or continuous learning.
While learning in the flow of work and getting knowledge at the point of need is important for most roles across any organisation, it’s particularly important for customer service representatives.
Think about it: no one person is an encyclopedia, and imagine how difficult it must be to hark back to all the training you’ve received in the beginning of your employment in order to answer a question, or to try in vain to search for answers while impatient customers wait on the line. It’s the stuff call centre agent churn rates are made out of.
As Cheryl Ogle, Customer Care Operations Manager for Panasonic says:
“Previously we focused our onboarding programme on lots of training material and learning to be taken onboard in the beginning. However, we realised that by enabling agents to learn in the flow of work, the result was much better. They came across more confident and were far more engaged towards our end customers. Also staff retention and training costs were areas we wanted to improve on.”
Spark: One of a Kind
Panasonic didn’t stop at just making sure it had a great L&D platform that its customer service agents could use alongside the rest of the company. It created Spark on the Fuse platform specifically for its customer service agents, to provide agents with a consumer-like learning solution where they could access learning in the flow of work.
It wasn’t just that Panasonic wanted Spark to have a better search engine so that agents could find things in those crucial moments while customers sat waiting for answers. The search is great, but Panasonic understood the importance of having knowledge data structures designed with call centre agents in mind, and a platform appropriate for a cross-border European customer care team speaking 23 different languages.
That’s right - 23 different languages. This isn’t an everyday requirement for many companies, but when you run a global customer service operation for one of the largest electronic brands in the world, these are the types of challenges that you are met with. You need a system like Fuse that uses AI to translate and enable conversations in near real-time.
You also need a strategy backed by the idea of community in order to get the continuous engagement that matters for call centre agents.
The People’s Platform
What really stands out about Spark is its central focus on social learning experiences. Being a call centre agent can be a lonely job, with performance metrics to make and intense pressure from demanding customers.
Panasonic saw the benefit of a centralised platform that could be used to build a sense of community amongst call centre agents in aiding better communication, and this was what inspired Spark. In fact, the company involved its call centre agents in the platform and learning design process itself, as Cheryl explains:
“We knew that the key to building interest was to involve people in the planning process itself and so from the very beginning, we tried to include agents wherever possible. We asked agents what they’d like to see from a design point of view, and we listened to their opinions about everything from content to functional design. We wanted them to understand that it would be their learning platform.”
Happier Call Centre Agents, Happier Customers
What happens when you give call centre agents an L&D platform that empowers them to learn in the flow of work, giving them the knowledge that they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability while also building a community with a real sense of interaction and social learning?
100% call centre engagement within just a few hours - on the first day of launch, all of Panasonic’s call agents logged on - and all within a couple of hours.
This led to 100% ROI from Fuse in just three months due to reduced recruitment and training costs
Employee engagement rose by an astonishing 33 NPS percentage points in first 6 months
Customer satisfaction rose by 15 NPS points in first 6 months
These are certainly not all of the stats, but to get the rest of them, including the training pass rates and retention of call centre agents, we encourage you to download and read the Panasonic case study today. And if you’re looking to transform your call centre L&D strategy and to increase engagement and retention, please do get in touch today to see how Fuse may work for you.