The current cost-of-living crisis combined with the usual stresses of managing a hybrid workforce and higher customer expectations put tremendous pressure on customer service organisations today. These widespread challenges are also holding many organisations back from delivering an exceptional customer experience (CX).
In fact, 83% of contact centre managers say ‘labour challenges have impacted the brand experience for their customers’, citing ‘agent stress/burnout’ and ‘operational difficulty of working remote/hybrid working’ as the biggest issues (both at 40%) followed closely behind by ‘high attrition/turnover’ (at 38%).
Flexible working practices and high customer expectations are here to stay and when budgets are tight, hiring more staff isn’t always a viable option. In these uncertain economic times, contact centres need to find new ways to achieve more and regret less.
Find new ways to nurture your staff – and the contact centre
Here are five top tips for getting started:
1. Uncover opportunities for quick wins
Many companies are undergoing a significant and often disruptive period of digital transformation that costs time and money – but it’s business as usual. At a time when 3 in 5 consumers say they would switch brands due to negative contact centre experiences, organisations simply can’t afford to ignore poor service experiences. Start by uncovering the biggest hurdles to CX in your organisation.
This is where an investment in analytics pays off for example. By quickly detecting customer frustrations and then alerting an agent or supervisor to call them back later in the day, you can reduce churn rate and turn a potentially negative customer experience into a positive brand moment. The beauty of analytics is that it helps seek out win-win opportunities, highlighting where to spend and where to make small changes that ultimately produce big gains in customer service.
2. Elevate functionality across key workflows
Combine data from Workforce Management (WFM) and Quality Management (QM) systems to provide an extra layer of value that optimises contact centre performance. A good example is using quality scores to impact schedules rather than create schedules based purely on agent skills. When it comes to agent skills, remember that how you make your customers feel is just as important as whether you solve their problems. Re-assess performance metrics and coaching techniques to guide agents in delivering fast, efficient service with empathy.
The latest Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) solutions automatically plan agent training to meet individual needs at a time to suit their new home-working lifestyles. The best WEM platforms also provide high levels of agent mobility, hybrid scheduling, and digital channel support to meet the needs of the modern contact centre.
3. Ditch data silos, integrate all the way
In a rush to embrace the hottest technology trends, organisations often overlook the basics such as integrating WEM tools with a whole range of other systems. On a purely practical level, this matters because many larger businesses operate multiple contact centres using multiple telephony systems that increase the risk of creating harmful data silos.
What is more, be mindful that other parts of the business such as HR and marketing are increasingly interested in workforce data, call recordings, transcripts, and customer sentiment scores to drive effective recruitment or sales strategies. As a result, there is a growing demand from businesses to connect WEM tools with other enterprise systems such as CRM and payroll.
4. Centralise staff management
Achieving more and regretting less is only possible when organisations can see the big picture. This is especially the case when it comes to managing your workforce. Success comes when contact centres have a complete, consistent, and centralised view of their staff and staff processes around the world. Ideally, contact centres would all be using the same telephone but many are cobbled together using a variety of systems depending on the preferred local vendor.
Fortunately, specialist WEM providers are able to integrate any number of telephony environments to centralise Workforce Optimisation (WFO) and QM data – regardless of the vendor. This approach also works for companies that operate an outsourced model to handle their customer contacts, allowing them to share and maximise their agent resources.
5. Focus on your people
Many contact centres today recognise the importance of focusing on their people with 96% of organisations planning to prioritise agent upskilling over the next 1-2 years. Nurture agents by equipping them with the top five soft skills that are set to reshape the customer experience: empathy, helpfulness, adaptability, active listening, and patience. Blend these with traditional hard skills such as response times and product knowledge to turn agents into brand guardians with the power to boost customer loyalty and grow profits. All with minimal effort and financial outlay.
When asked what are the most effective ways for the contact centre to support and empower agents, ‘the right tools and technology’ came out top of the list (42%) but invest wisely and be selective. Help your agents grow by giving them the flexible, personalised training they need to truly understand and respond to every step of the customer journey using the latest automated performance coaching and Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics solutions.
All statistics quoted in this article come from the Calabrio State of the Contact Centre Report 2022.