The terms “call center” and “contact center,” and even “customer support,” often evoke the same image for many people: a sea of cubicles with antiquated phones armed by agents heads down with script manuals in hand. This is, of course, the picture we have always been shown on screens big and small.
At Agero, we’re delivering a new reality for the contact center in the modern world.
Consumer expectations have shifted immensely: from the channels we use for communication and engagement to the way agents deliver support to the way we anticipate and respond to new service needs. We have evolved in response, reimagining the contact center ecosystem - the people, technologies and communication channels we employ - to enhance the end-to-end experience for consumers, service providers, clients and contact center employees.
Having recently taken the helm of contact center operations following a 21-year journey managing our network and leading product development, I am excited to lead the organization in redefining what a “contact center” truly means.
It takes practice and experience to march to a different drum
Demand for driver assistance services continues to grow. Brands seek more positive touchpoints with customers to build loyalty and affinity. As the leader in this space, and with over 50 years’ of experience, we aren’t just another contact center or services company. We are uniquely positioned with more capabilities than any other to alleviate friction for consumers and brands throughout every stage of the vehicle ownership journey. From research and purchase all the way through to trade-in or repurchase, we have the products and services, the tools, and the knowledgeable people to ramp up quickly and start helping - fast.
Before Agero, I studied music, with a focus on drumming, and while it wasn’t my career path, I learned from my nearly 40 years as a drummer that practice makes - maybe not perfection - but at least improvement. We drive continuous growth in our contact centers by building on our long-standing know-how with practices in new training mechanisms, new approaches to staffing and more. We learn as we go and we’re always improving.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to serve all of the different situations drivers will find themselves in
As a father of three, I know how each child has their own personality and needs - how I foster one is different from how I foster another. The same holds true in the driver assistance space, where a consumer’s request for help could be in the extreme: an accident scene in the middle of the night or needing a jump start on a busy road, in the rain, with kids strapped in the backseat. It could also be on the other less emotional end of the spectrum (though how stressful or emotional a situation is depends on the customer themself), like: teaching the new teenage driver how much air to put in a tire in winter, having a new car delivered across the state, or scheduling an appointment to address a recall. Each of these scenarios requires a unique approach to deliver support with accuracy, knowledge, speed and empathy.
Leveraging our blended human/digital response tools, we can reach customers how and when they want to be reached. Employing our automated, AI-driven algorithms for escalation, we can anticipate and avoid service issues, like delays, before they arise. Our expanded vehicle handling services and dedicated consumer affairs organization have given us new abilities and agility to solve driver problems throughout the entire ownership journey. The mix has also strengthened how we plan for environmental and macroeconomic shifts impacting our industry at large, from seasonality to national driving behavior to inflation. We solved over 65 million driver problems last year, which is just slightly more than how many problems my wife and I solved at our house with three little ones.
We cannot emphasize enough how important DIGITAL is to the Customer Experience
We have made a lot of changes to our contact center operations due to changing demand for how and when consumers interact with brands and the rapid expansion of Agero’s range of services. As part of this evolution, we have developed and delivered new digital dispatch management platforms for the agent, client and Service Provider partners, creating greater transparency than ever before into how services are delivered. We’ve also introduced Agent Chat capabilities for Providers so they can skip the phone lines when needing live job assistance. For customers we’ve created efficient digital intake capabilities for those who prefer to have greater control over the request experience. Even more recently we added self-service payment capabilities which gives customers more privacy and accuracy.
Digital solutions aid our focus on collecting information accurately and securely, getting providers dispatched quickly and helping drivers get back on the road as fast as possible - freeing up our highly trained human teams to handle outlier situations that may need a higher-touch approach.
Our agents have the technology and support to exist beyond the cubicle
Contact centers today must meet the new reality of workforce management. Our associates have proven day in and day out that they’re able and eager to deliver outstanding service to clients wherever they work or wherever they are from. We have leaned into this opportunity for greater flexibility and balance, diversifying and strengthening our talent pool more than ever by drawing on resources from across the United States and beyond to address the vast driver assistance needs Agero supports. Through this approach, we have created hubs, including our Clarksville innovation center, that are a combination of permanent and flexible call centers with both onsite and remote teams. This architecture gives us the ability to tap into a broader workforce for an ever more highly trained, skilled, and dedicated staff - both on and off-shore - to meet our fast-paced growth. Supporting customers day in and day out, providing empathy, problem-solving quickly and being able to share a smile over the phone line takes commitment. We understand the balance needed in the work environment to keep our associates energized and excited when they log on for work.
People + Technology + Scale = Agero’s unique ability to deliver digital driver assistance
At Agero we often say how each event is addressed uniquely with equal parts People + Technology + Scale. Over the 21 years I’ve worked at Agero I have worked intensively in each part of the equation. This new role allows me to bring all that experience together around exciting new opportunities for driver assistance. In the past I’ve managed Agero’s massive Scale - our road service and towing network. I’ve focused on People overseeing contact center agent training and quality assurance programs. More recently, I was on the Technology team, managing our Customer Experience and Product development, driving home the importance of digital with a customer-centric approach. Before that I led Agero’s data and analysis squad, where we developed algorithms to better manage volume surges.
As we reinvent the modern contact center, I’ll personally be drawing on all of my experiences to work effectively with the team to deliver on our promise for a better future and better experience for drivers, for clients, providers and employees.
Meet the Author: Chris Small - VP, Contact Center Operations