Knowing the Limits of Agent Empowerment

Knowing the Limits of Agent Empowerment

In our last article, we talked about the importance of your agents’ interactions and the positive impacts of agent empowerment on the customer experience. Without a doubt, more autonomy leads to faster resolutions and better service. Although it is a valuable tool, we also need to recognize the limits of agent empowerment and how the practice of it changes between industries.

What Is Agent Empowerment?

When contact centers discuss agent empowerment, this usually refers to strategies that provide your employees with the resources and decision-making authority they need to do their jobs. It begins with maintaining consistent, updated sources of business intelligence. However, it extends to ensuring that all tools and systems function as they should. And, it also encompasses ongoing training. Besides giving your agents the knowledge to handle complex problems, it should also empower them to take the necessary actions to perform the next best steps.

In many cases, empowerment means granting agents the ability to rectify service failures and help you recover business. They often achieve this by offering some sort of compensation or special consideration. It varies by industry, but compensation could be anything from refunds, free services, or lower rates to complimentary upgrades and loyalty points. Unfortunately, industry compliance laws and operational policies can severely restrict what agents can do for your customers.

What Limitations Does Compliancy Cause?

Although we can discuss agent empowerment in broad terms, the way people apply it will change depending on the industry. It will also have a greater impact on the customer in certain industries due to the legal limits to what your agents can and can’t do for the customer. Sometimes there are strict policies that must be followed to the letter of the law with no room for exceptions.

For example, there are clear statutes to protect the personal information of both customers and employees. However, HIPAA laws go even further to enforce the laws and guarantee the patients’ privacy. In some situations, safeguarding this information may seem like poor service. But, these boundaries are in place to protect everyone involved.

Additionally, different industries will trigger different types of empowerment. You can’t offer the same types of compensation with healthcare or government programs that you would with a private telecom or a hospitality services provider. Private companies may set financial limits on the amount of compensation you can offer. But, there is usually more flexibility with what you can do to amend the situation. No matter what industry you work in, well-trained agents will be able to leverage their empowerment to find an acceptable solution.

Knowing the Limits of Agent Empowerment

Empowering your agents to solve problems without seeking permission every call will vastly improve your customer interactions. Not only does this allow them to provide better customer service, but it will also create more satisfactory outcomes.

However, there is a difference between agent empowerment, going the extra mile, and going too far. Agents should feel comfortable using it. But, they must also know the legal limits of what they can do.

But even in the strictest settings, knowledge in itself gives agents greater empowerment. Maintaining your knowledge base systems and ensuring that your employees have access to the resources they need are among the most important factors in this. Simple changes can spark an immediate improvement in performance, KPIs, and customer satisfaction.

With so many compliance concerns, it can be difficult to recognize the limits of agent empowerment within your industry. Fortunately, P3 can help you establish best practices that give your employees more autonomy and your customers a better experience.