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Empowering Customer Service Agents

Empowering Customer Service Agents: The Superheroes of Support

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Uthaman Bakthikrishnan

Executive Vice President

What do empowered customer service agents do?

They take the time to do something nice to customers. Not because it’s expected. Simply because they can.

This might be the best business strategy of all.

I am reproducing from an article on the legendary Lego customer service.

Luka Apps spent all the money he got for Christmas to buy a Lego Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider set. Against his father’s advice, he brought one of the figures with him to the supermarket – and lost it.

Luka then wrote a letter to Lego:

My name is Luka Apps, and I am seven years old. I bought the Ninjago kit for the Ultrasonic Raider with all the money I got for Christmas. The number is 9449. It is really good.

My Daddy just took me to Sainsbury’s and told me to leave the people at home, but I took them, and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.

I am really upset that I have lost him. Daddy said to send you an email to see if you will send me another one.

I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.


Lego quickly responded.

A customer service rep named Richard said he talked to Ninjago master Sensei Wu, the mentor of the Ninjago clan and a fictional character with a backstory.

Here’s what Richard wrote:

Luka, I told Sensei Wu that losing your Jay minifigure was purely an accident and that you would never let it happen again.

He told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man. You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the weapons of Spinjitzu!”

Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone who saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons. You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines three different Jays into one! I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!

Just remember what Sensei Wu said: Keep your minifigures protected like the weapons of Spinjitzu! And, of course, always listen to your dad.

The story quickly spread on social media and became a branding coup for Lego.

Lego with empowered agents made the seven-year-old’s day. Empowered agents take the time to turn what could have been a transaction into something more meaningful.

Empowered Customer Service Agents Make a Lot of Business Sense for Organizations

Let us look at some published statistics.

  1. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, empowered customer service agents lead to a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.
  2. A Gallup poll revealed that empowered employees are 22% more likely to feel engaged and satisfied in their roles.
  3. Research by Zendesk indicates that empowered agents resolve customer issues 25% faster than those without empowerment tools.
  4. Forbes reports that companies with highly empowered customer service agents enjoy a 10% increase in revenue.
  5. A study by Deloitte found that organizations with a strong empowerment culture have 31% lower turnover rates.

In the world of customer service, empowerment isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the secret sauce that turns ordinary agents into extraordinary superheroes.

How Does Technology Help in Agent Empowerment?

I wrote this anecdote in one of my earlier articles, “Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Customer Experience.”

This anecdote talks about how technology helps empower agents to make decisions in favor of the customers.

I was moderating a panel discussion recently, and one of the panelists shared this scenario with us during the session.

He booked a hotel for a 4-night stay in Gurugram using an Online Travel Agency. It was a non-refundable booking. When he checked in, he somehow did not like the hotel and expressed that to the hotel staff. The hotel staff apologized and suggested upgrading him to the suite room.

He wasn’t convinced and decided to shift to a better hotel.

So, he called the Online Travel Agency and told them he had booked this hotel and wasn’t comfortable staying there. The agent said he would figure out if something could be done while listening to this.

If he had followed the Standard Operating Procedures, the agent would have said, “We are sorry that you don’t like the hotel, but since it is a non-refundable booking, we are not in a position to help you.”

However, this agent took this up with the higher-ups within the online travel agency, ensured that he got the refund, booked him in another hotel, and helped him check in. The agent even checked whether he was comfortable with the new place.

What happened here?

The agent had enough data to know that ‘So and So’ has booked more than 500 nights through their portal in the last ten years. The agent knows he is a loyal customer of the portal because of its integrated omnichannel infrastructure.

He was empowered to decide to push for a refund of a non-refundable booking by going against the SOPs.

The agent ensured that the customer’s lifetime value only increased with this phenomenal customer experience.

The tangible impact of empowered customer service agents cannot be overstated. They go beyond the expected, solving problems creatively and creating memorable customer experiences.

In each case, the empowerment not only satisfies the customers but also contributes to the positive reputation and success of the brands.

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