Donovan recently lost his credit card. The company sent him a new one, but it has a lower credit limit and some important recurring charges from his old card are being denied. He’s annoyed — and dreading how hard it will be to explain the details and get the situation resolved. Customers with complex problems like Donovan’s are a challenge for service reps trying to deliver a quality interaction.
“ Customers experience better outcomes when the companies they do business with focus on reducing the complexity faced by reps”
To arm reps to deal with the complexity, service leaders invest in systems and tools. On average, 8.6 systems, applications, tools and information resources have been updated or introduced to reps over the past 3–5 years. These resources are meant to improve rep productivity and provide customers with a seamless and effortless experience. Instead, they create more complexity for frontline reps — and don’t help solve customer problems.
Gartner research shows that customers experience better outcomes when the companies they do business with focus on reducing the complexity faced by reps, making it easier for reps to concentrate on helping the customers they serve.
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What factors impact rep productivity most
To better understand how to run a more efficient operation without harming the quality of customer interactions, Gartner studied rep productivity. Research found a total of seven factors that directly impact rep productivity.
“Of the seven, the way reps interact with all the systems and tools they have to use today has the biggest impact on productivity,” says Rick DeLisi, senior executive advisor at Gartner. “In fact, service leaders’ attempts to help reps is most often negatively impacting their ability to connect and effectively solve issues with customers.”
Service leaders need to make changes in the service organization to focus on “the rep experience” to understand how the function can be improved.
Shift from customer experience to the rep experience
Traditionally, service organizations primarily focus on the customer experience. But in order to boost rep productivity, a service leader must understand the trials and tribulations experienced daily by the frontlines of the service organization.
“Instead of asking how to make reps more productive, service leaders should consider what’s standing in the way of reps’ focus on helping customers,” says DeLisi.
Research shows that the shift in focus brings positive results in both the customer experience and the organization's operational efficiency. Improved rep experience can help increase customer satisfaction by 11% and reduce customer effort by 9%.
Improve the rep experience
Gartner research pinpoints two key ways service leaders can tame the complexity for reps and enable them to focus on helping customers:
- Identify and remove barriers to rep productivity: Service organizations devote a large amount of effort understanding their customers’ pain points through customer experience measures such as voice of the customer (VoC). These same activities can be adapted to assess rep experience improvement opportunities. Rather than just focusing on VoC, greater attention should be paid to “VoR” — the voice of their reps on the frontline.
- Quick wins to improve the rep experience: Uncover nonobvious, quick-hit solutions to help reps focus their time and attention on the customer. By studying reps as they work and enabling rep-led solutions, service leaders can take near-term actions to improve the rep experience.