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Shifting Left: The People Pleaser with Measurable Results

Shifting left is about bringing solutions closer to customers. This also means taking problems further away from skilled agents. The endgame for both parties is one bumper prize: more time.

In a perfect world, a successful shift left is solving a problem altogether.  No one needs to ask or answer a question at all. Because ideally, the answer’s self-explanatory.

Shift left 1

Of course, this isn’t always possible.

But we can at least shorten the lifespan of people’s confusion. Shifting left involves planting explanations earlier in the service cycle. Perhaps a customer can crack their query on a self-service portal rather than needing to call a helpline. Or a tier 1 agent might hold the knowledge base previously reserved for tier 2 agents. Either way, it’s about giving MORE people a sense of ownership over answering important questions. Which means FEWER questions are escalated overall.

Done right, the savings in resources for our contact centres are deliciously measurable. Shifting left can save bags of agent and customer time.

But how do you nail a solid shift left?

We’ve covered that shifting left can take shape in anything from equipping entry level agents with veteran company knowledge, to self-service portals for customers.

But most of all, it’s about company knowledge being translated into solid content.

If the content is efficient and consistent across all levels of service, then all of those levels should be equally effective in delivering expert knowledge.

How do we know when this happens?

Time-rich tier 2 agents are a golden indicator of a successful shift left.

If we kit out our contact centres with a knowledge base which is easy to use, fewer calls will need to be escalated, as tier 1 agents won’t need to refer up. Even better, more customers will enjoy the rewarding experience of self-solving issues. This gives them a sense of independence and gives our technically skilled agents more time to develop other areas of the business.

There are three key areas to focus on in the shift left:

Customer Journey

Before we even get to the content, we have to think of how people reach it. In the customer’s case, this is usually through some kind of self-service portal.

Take an online banking app. How many clicks from homepage to payment page? Is it easy to pop the payee’s details in? Is confirmation of payment clear, or is it so unclear the customer needs to call the bank up anyway?

Meanwhile, knowledge bases are vital for entry level agents, as well as customers in search of answers. Knowledge bases can be bursting with brilliant content, but if the relevant stuff is buried too deep in a database, it won’t get found or used. As a result, the customer will have to reach further up the chain for information, which returns the strain to skilled agents.


Think of design as the vain cousin of customer journey. If self-service portals are beautifully laid out with spacing, subheadings and even a splash of colour, the customer journey is likely to be far more direct. Equally, clear design and strong signposting will help an unsure agent access answers on a knowledge base without hesitation. Or the need to talk to another agent.

If customer journey is the compass, design is everyone’s map. We need to make it feel easy and look freaking good.


Firstly, we need to work out what knowledge our customers need. Then we can streamline their demand into relevant content. We can do this by isolating repeat enquiries and documenting their solutions into things like bitesize knowledge articles.

To make this content effective, we also need to make sure it’s well written. We want to create comprehensive, digestible and rewarding doses of information.

Great content will empower both customers and agents. By giving a lesser-experienced agent the tools to solve an advanced query, we make them directly responsible for their customer, which in turn builds a closer and more accountable relationship between employee and company, customer and agent.

So if anything, shifting left isn’t about shrugging responsibility, it’s about giving more people the power to care.

shift left 3

What are the results?

More time, less hounded agents, happier customers – all of this can be turned into numbers and positive return.

The nature of shifting left means that if a repeat enquiry stops reaching tier 2 agents over a specific period of time, that niggle has successfully been shifted left.

How can we help make this happen?

The thing is, a knowledge base is a growing beast. Some taming is required from time to time.

This is because a knowledge base expands and contracts with customer need, which demands regular monitoring and maintenance. That’s where we come in.

We’re keen as mustard to dive headfirst into your knowledge base and see how quickly we come out the other side with the solutions. If it’s a tricky journey, we’ll pinpoint exactly how the customer journey, design and content itself can be enhanced, or even created. The same goes for self-service portals, and the rest we haven’t even had time to touch on here.

If you fancy letting us help fortify your front line, do get in touch. That way, your master agents behind the scenes can crack on with the really exciting stuff.

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About the Author
Nick Herbert
Author: Nick Herbert
Managing Director

Nick has been our Managing Director for over 15 years, but before joining Adexchange was a BBC journalist and radio presenter; both of which rely on clarity of communication, detail and efficiency.

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Adexchange Media Limited
Company number: 04344957

The Old Garage, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7NP