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11 tips to improve agent productivity and efficiency

Are you ready to take your customer support team to the next level? Follow these tips to boost agent productivity and efficiency.

By Maddy Storck, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Agent Workspace

Last updated November 3, 2023

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, 72 percent of customers want immediate service. To help meet these lightning-fast customer expectations, you’ll need to foster a productive team of agents.

Agent productivity is the engine that drives your support team across the finish line, helping to satisfy customer needs and provide meaningful resolutions.

Follow this guide to learn how to improve agent productivity and efficiency, so you can take your customer experience (CX) and support team from the middle of the pack to a first-place finisher.

An image showcases 11 ways to improve agent productivity.

1. Establish clear expectations

Setting the right customer service goals and clear expectations for your agents is a great way to improve customer support productivity. That way, each agent knows what you expect of them and can manage their time to meet company goals daily. Without clearly defined expectations, agent productivity may fall by the wayside.

To keep things on track, use key performance indicators (KPIs) to set goals for your agents. Examples of customer support KPIs include:

With these KPIs and expectations in place, your agents must work productively or risk missing these goals.

According to Gartner, setting goals aligned with organizational and employee needs can increase employee performance by up to 22 percent.

2. Invest in self-service solutions

An image showcases four self-service solutions to improve agent productivity.

Just because a customer has a question doesn’t mean an agent always has to intervene. By providing customer self-service solutions, you can decrease ticket volume and help improve agent and call center productivity while offering customers a way to independently resolve their issues. Examples of self-service solutions include:

On top of these customer-facing resources, your business can also dedicate a self-service option for your agents by creating an internal knowledge base using employee experience software. An internal knowledge base can organize and store valuable company information that helps your support agents spend less time searching for answers and more time offering speedy resolutions to customers.

3. Measure and review performance with your agents

Another way to help improve agent productivity is to regularly measure agent performance metrics. Customer service software can help with this, offering advanced data and analytics tools that document agent performance as well as customer service metrics like first call resolution, tickets per hour, and average wait time.

Once you’ve collected this information, discuss it with your agents. Having an open dialogue about your findings can help hold your agents accountable and identify areas of development for your agents and support team.

According to Gallup, employees are 3.6 times more likely to “strongly agree” that they are motivated to do outstanding work when their manager provides daily feedback rather than annual feedback.

4. Celebrate agent success

While exact motivations can vary from agent to agent, evidence shows that recognizing your employees’ good work and celebrating their successes can positively impact customer service agent productivity.

According to Nectar, 77.9 percent of employees said they would be more productive if their organization recognized them more frequently.

You can celebrate agent success in many ways, including giving them a shout-out in your team chat, taking them to lunch, or offering other incentives. With these small but impactful gestures, agents are encouraged to keep up the good work knowing their efforts will be rewarded. Additionally, recognizing your agents can help them feel appreciated and create a supportive environment.

5. Maintain agent well-being

A graphic displays three ways you can maintain agent well-being to help improve agent productivity.

In customer service, a happy agent is a productive agent. It’s important to prioritize your support team’s well-being and create a positive work environment. A few ways to maintain a great employee experience include:

  • Making sure employees take breaks

  • Promoting a healthy work-life balance

  • Delivering a fair and manageable workload

By keeping your agents’ well-being in mind, you can help prevent burnout and keep your agents sharp, happy, and productive.

According to The Hartford, 63 percent of employees state that their health and wellness impact their productivity at work.

6. Use a workforce management tool

Call center workforce management is a powerful way to improve agent productivity. With a workforce management tool, you can easily manage your agents’ schedules and track their activity, productivity, and efficiency in real time. This kind of software can help ensure agents have a manageable workload and provide data to identify pain points and boost productivity.

Empower your agents with Zendesk

Our end-to-end customer service solution gives your team the tools they need to work efficiently and provide meaningful customer support. Give Zendesk a try and see how quickly your agent productivity improves.

7. Make it easy for agents to collaborate

Another way to help improve agent productivity is to make it easy for your agents to collaborate across teams and with one another. Strengthen communication with collaboration tools that let agents share information and collaborate on tickets in one easy-to-use workspace. Some solutions also integrate with communication platforms—such as Slack, Zoom, and Asana—which enables agents to collaborate without jumping between apps.

Your business can also leverage employee experience solutions and employee experience management to streamline agent communication with your HR team. This allows agents to get their questions answered quickly without an endless chain of emails, saving time and providing the information they need to do their job effectively.

According to Queens University of Charlotte, roughly 75 percent of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important.”

8. Provide agents with adequate onboarding and training

Proper onboarding and training can be the difference between a productive and unproductive customer support agent. After all, if your agent is trying to learn about your business on the fly, it can slow them down and hinder their ability to solve customer issues.

To avoid this, prioritize creating onboarding and training resources to help your agents perform to the best of their abilities. That way, they can hit the ground running and efficiently help customers solve complex problems.

According to SurveyMonkey, 59 percent of employees believe that training improves their overall job performance.

9. Use a unified agent workspace

From email to live chat support to messaging, support agents have a lot of channels to keep track of when helping customers. But if your support agents are bouncing from app to app, their productivity can suffer. To avoid this, consider providing your team with an agent workspace that unifies communication channels and gives them all the information they need to assist customers efficiently.

A unified agent workspace can help support agents provide seamless omnichannel customer service, which not only boosts productivity but also allows for relevant, personal conversations with customers—regardless of their preferred communication channel.

10. Automate routine tasks with AI

A graphic showcases three ways AI can help improve agent productivity.

When boosting agent efficiency, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are your friends. AI can help businesses automate routine tasks and workflows, allowing your agents to spend less time answering common questions and more time working on complex solutions.

For example, AI chatbots can resolve customer questions without agent intervention. Chatbots can also assist agents by providing helpful context based on customer interactions, saving your agents time. Additionally, AI features like intelligent triage can automatically analyze requests and determine customer intent (why the customer is reaching out), sentiment (positive, negative, or neutral), and spoken language to help prioritize issues and arm your agents with the information they need to work most efficiently.

According to our CX Trends Report, 74 percent of consumers believe AI will improve customer service efficiency.

11. Equip agents with the right customer context

Customer context to a support agent is like tools to a carpenter. Just as a carpenter would have trouble framing a wall without tools, a support agent needs context to help a customer effectively. Using customer service software puts invaluable customer context at your agents’ fingertips, including names, contact information, and details about past interactions.

This information enables your support team to jump in and resolve problems without needing the customer to repeat themselves, saving your agents time, making them more efficient, and improving your CX.

Use Zendesk to improve agent productivity

With Zendesk, you can keep your agents focused, productive, and on top of service goals with a dynamic agent workspace that surfaces work intuitively and adapts to different roles and workflows. Zendesk equips agents with valuable context and a real-time list of work tasks, allowing them to quickly help customers, deliver faster resolutions, and enhance the customer experience. Try Zendesk for free and start boosting agent productivity and providing top-tier customer support on day one.

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