agent experience

How to Catalogue the Ingredients of Your Agent Experience

A few weeks back we talked about how to turn personas – a classic marketing and CX tool – inward to help lay the stage for crafting your agent experience (AX).

Now we’re going to take a step further. We’re going to put together an agent touchpoint catalog which will give you a high-level (and relatively unstructured) overview of how your agents come into contact with your organization Doing this will help you home in on points of friction and ready you for the next point in our process: creating an agent experience map.

First, let’s quickly define what we mean by a ‘touchpoint’ from an AX perspective. Basically, and literally, a touchpoint is to be found any time your agents interact with your organization – however tenuously, and whether well or badly. This could be anything from your website to your logo on a water bottle, your office chairs to your operations director, your software to your parking spaces.

Together, touchpoints create the mechanism that defines – in a concrete sense – your agent experience.

Now let’s swan-dive right in, shall we?


Step 1

Assemble your troops!

We’re talking operations managers, team leaders and (critically!) agents, all of whom will have a unique and valuable perspective to draw on.

In the Agile software methodology, it is recommended you keep numbers to a maximum of a two-pizza team. We like that advice, and we like pizza, so we’ll recommend it too. Go on then: get some pizza.


Step 2

Arm your troops!

This is an interactive workshop that involves sticky notes. How many sticky notes? You’d be dismayed if we told you. Let’s just say a lot. Enough sticky notes for you to pretend they’re hundred-dollar bills at a nefarious meeting.

PRO TIP: There is a secret technique to using sticky notes, handed down by mystics through centuries of oral tradition. If you do not follow this advice, your sticky notes will fall off the wall and you will be sad. The advice is this: peel the sticky notes off sideways, not from top to bottom. Trust us.

You will also require pens. Do not hand out fine-liners here, unless you like peering at your wall with binoculars. Use some nice fat felt-tip markers.

Finally, you will need a bunch of little round stickers in five different colors.

Believe in yourself. You’re ready.


Step 3

Have your people form little groups of, say, two each. You may call these groups cadres, factions or Agencies of the Empire. We do not mind.

Each cadre will have a task: to think up – and write down! – each of the agent touchpoints in a given phase of the organization’s operation.

That’s kinda vague, we know. Think of it like this: split the work up at each phase in the work lifecycle of an agent. That means one cadre will deal with the hiring process. One will work on onboarding. Another will take on the daily work. Yet another will tackle exit procedures and career pathways. You get the idea.

One touchpoint per sticky note. Try to think of each touchpoint as the receptacle for a significant moment your agents’ experience as they go about sustaining your business.

Here is a lite example of touchpoints for an agent’s daily work:

  • transport
  • office space
  • kitchen
  • desks
  • chairs
  • computers
  • software
  • headsets
  • colleagues
  • team leaders
  • managers
  • break areas
  • toilets
  • meetings
  • wallboards

As you can see, these things – even if only tangentially related to your actual business – are all things that help shape the experience of working for you.

This process is a lot of work. Set aside your panic, do some light stretching, and keep at it.


Step 4

Guys, take a break okay? (Look at all those sticky notes.)


Step 5

Have each cadre present their findings. Discuss them. Have arguments! Threaten to resign, then take it all back when the donuts arrive.

Add and remove touchpoints as required. Arrange them into roughly logical progressions. Just, y’know, fiddle with them and pretend that you’re being productive about it.


Step 6

Now this is important. Summon the little-colored stickers. You know, those little round ones. Remember: five different colors. You’ll need ’em.

Now you’re going to use those stickers to mark the, uh, stickies, according to the following criteria: entries and exits, peaks, pain points, frequency and resonance. We’ll break that down now.

Yellow stickers: entries and exits

Spread out and find all the touchpoints that represent the first or last interaction in any given phase. In daily work, for example, it’s straightforward: the entry and exit touchpoints are probably both transport to and from work. Apply the stickers to these points.

Blue stickers: peaks

Now find the touchpoints that represent the most intense experiences. (Overlaps with other stickers are fine.) This could be a manager, or an outbound call, or a reward scheme.

Red stickers: pain points

Next, stick up the points that hold pain. The bad coffee. The overly severe penalization for late coming. That sort of thing.

Orange stickers: frequency

With your luminous orange stickers in hand, find the touchpoints that are encountered most often. Notice especially when frequency and pain coincide.

SILVER stickers: resonance

Resonance can be tricky to define, but think of it this way: any time your organization has an opportunity to express its core philosophy or offering, it has an opportunity to resonate. Think perks, sponsored lunches, training programmes.


Step 7

Make sure every person in the session has considered every touchpoint. Now get together again and discuss the stickers – look for commonality and for disagreement, and delve into the reasoning behind the placements.


Wrapping up

You now have a touchpoint catalog. With the sticker exercise, you’ll probably already have an idea of problem areas and opportunities for improvement. Like, if you have a sticky note plastered to death with red, blue and silver stickers, you’ve basically found an uncut ruby the size of your fist. Um, sort of.

But listen: we’re not going to stop here. Next week we’re going to use this catalog as the basis for an agent experience map. Things are gonna get real.

For now, take photos of your work, and maybe write them up on a Google doc. If you can spot changes you can make right now, hop to it! The sooner the better really.

Now have a milkshake or something. You’ve earned it.