How we build back better, with sustainability in mind
There’s almost a degree of nostalgia now, for those 2020 memes of silent cities. Empty streets, clear skies… Lockdown hit the pause button in ways we never anticipated. And for teams and organisations, there was a chance to pause and reflect too, even as many worked harder than ever to maintain continuity, in the face of unprecedented challenges.
Customer service was certainly a case in point, as Jeremy Payne, Group VP Marketing and Alliances at Enghouse indicated. “While COVID put a pause on many aspects of global consumerism, contact centres ended up running even hotter during the crisis. We talk about the environmental savings of working from home, but we have to remember the human cost as well.”
As Enghouse’s survey research earlier this year was among the first to highlight, customer service agents are burned out and exhausted, and quitting their positions in higher numbers than ever seen before. Up to 90% of respondents suggested they’d be looking for a new position in the months ahead.
“That’s not sustainable, in any sense,” Payne pointed out. “There are energy consumption costs you can measure, but there is also an opportunity cost related to continuity, where you have to expend time and other resources on recruitment and onboarding and retention. Even the direct energy cost of shipping new equipment, and replicating training and induction processes, all adds up.”
So creating a better experience for the people involved needs to be part of the sustainability strategy for every enterprise – and opportunities grasped, to actively improve things. Which aligns with what customers want as well.
“From the angle of energy consumption, it’s all about the total effort it takes for a customer to solve their problem – because whether that’s human energy, computing time, data, it’s all incremental consumption. The future ‘greener’ contact centre will build back in a way which minimises consumer’s need for it in the first place.”
So, it makes sense to take advantage of the average consumer’s growing comfort with UC functions and advanced online communications, to take them out of the CX queue altogether where possible. This also avoids boring and repetitive interactions for the burned-out agent, as well as relieving some of the pressure manifests in the growing call queue.
“We used to call it call deflection, and see it as a means of stopping problems arising in the first place.” Payne explained.
But the reality is now a lot more positive:
“We have cool things today like predictive analytics, to anticipate demand in new ways, so we can manage resources better,” he described. “We have the intelligence to give customers what they want, a lot more quickly. And we have more knowledge management and self-service tools, which people can use at a time which best suits them.”
While customers might not be thinking in explicit sustainability terms, they all know they have finite resources, when it comes to discretionary time, patience, and attention.
“If we enable customers to solve their own problems quickly, they’re not consuming the energy of the organisation.” Payne concluded.