Empowering Support Agent Excellence with Thoughtful AI

Last month, I had the opportunity to moderate a webinar alongside two executive leaders I’ve admired for some time. Charles Coaxum is SVP of Customer Support at Automax, formerly of Cisco, Centrify, and Demandbase. In his spare time while living in Las Vegas, Charles rides bikes and works on classic cars in his spare time. Renee Bastine is the Senior Director of Global Customer Support at Everbridge, formerly of RSA Security and Oracle. When not gambling with her husband, Renee crochets gifts for friends and family in Boston.

Charles and Renee’s inspiring careers span different industries, verticals, and company sizes – and underscore the timelessness of their wisdom, even on a topic as progressive as generative AI. Following are some of my top takeaways from our vibrant conversation about how to architect world-class customer agent excellence with a thoughtful use of artificial intelligence.

1. Resource tradeoffs always matter.

Said Charles, “In CX, we’re constantly trying to get better and to provide a better experience for everybody involved.” While growth stage businesses may need to prioritize moving more quickly to double down on what works and rapidly prioritize resources away from underperforming initiatives & channels, large enterprises often feel the impact longer if they don’t react fast to rectify unoptimized dollars, despite fewer resource constraints.

2. The agent experience needs to be prioritized or else…

When the basics aren’t in place, said Renee, to ensure tech support engineers have necessary best practices and standard operating procedures, it’s impossible to use technology to expedite efficiency. In fact, in that case, technology accelerates disorder. However, when the basics underpin technology, agents have more time to generate content, help customers with self-service, and more.

3. Measuring what matters can go wrong if you aren’t careful

You have to be careful when focusing on an individual, said Renee, because it’s easy to lose sight of other KPIs you also care about. “It’s a balance to make sure that you’re not breaking something else while you improve another thing.” Adds Charles, timelines depend on what the particular issue is that you’re striving to address. For example, customer issues need to be addressed quickly, whereas the performance of new products or features may need to be monitored.

4. Generative AI excels when triaging issues and suggesting pre-written content for recurring situations.

Said Charles, generative AI is a great equalizer. By intelligently triaging issues, generative AI liberates agents to interact with customers at a higher level because they’re no longer doing that work themselves. Similarly, Renee’s systems route calls with repetitive questions to surface pre-approved answers without involving agents. As Charles said, generative AI “allows the agent to leverage whatever their superpower is.”

5. Spend time face-to-face with agents before using generative AI

Before leveraging AI, said Renee, you need a cohesive approach to every process. To acquire that level of granular understanding about her agents’ common, recurring experiences, she sits down with each one individually to gain a sense for what burning issues she needs to attack first. By asking consistent questions and slowing down before acting, “I say that I wish I’d addressed problems sooner way less often.”

If you want to learn more from Charles and Renee, you can watch the webinar recording here. Thanks to our partner AptEdge for hosting!