In today’s environment, managing a contact center has never been more difficult. Contact centers are struggling on both ends, to best serve the increasingly demanding customer, while keeping agents engaged, empowered, and delighted. With COVID, most agents around the world went home, and many analysts agree that 70% of contact center agents aren’t coming back into the office. Attrition was already high, and has only gotten worse! It’s crucial now, more than ever, to support your agents in this challenging remote work environment. Providing them with the necessary resources, training, and emotional support can help boost their morale, job satisfaction, and overall performance.
So with all these factors, how do you better support your agents?
Improve the At-Home Experience
Up until a few years ago, agents worked in a traditional call center environment. IT infrastructure, working environment, and supervisor access were all optimized. With the rapid shift to working from home, caused by COVID, companies had to react within days. The shift to work from home, has raised new challenges for IT and agents.
Companies would be well served taking this opportunity to shift away from premise infrastructure and onto cloud. Most business applications, like Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and SAP Cloud, are cloud native, but most companies still depend on premise communication platforms. CCaaS vendors, like Five9, Genesys, and Amazon have robust contact center platforms that can be deployed quickly and maintained remotely. Making the switch to an all-cloud infrastructure is the biggest IT change you can make to support your agents.
Being in the office, the working environment is more in your control. Children climbing onto laps, dogs barking, stealing the neighbors’ Wi-Fi isn’t something you need to worry about with agents in the office, but these become real concerns with at-home agents.
Addressing the home working environment starts with being honest about the real concerns, and being clear on what’s expected, like internet speed and quiet workspace. Start by monitoring things like background noise level and Wi-Fi quality, and use real-time data to first inform the agent and then the supervisor.
Working remotely is isolating and is even more so for agents that are used to easy access to team members and supervisors. Agents need new and better tools, like well structured knowledgebase, so they can be more independent. Opening other channels of communication through tools like Teams or Slack can play an important role in keeping CSAT scores high. Supervisors may need to more closely monitor critical metrics and increase proactive outreach.
Leverage Technology to Improve the Agents Experience
There are many technologies that companies can deploy that are geared towards improving the agent experience. Below are some of the more impactful ones:
Sharing all the necessary customer information in a screen pop before the agent answers the phone reduces agent stress, reduces call time, and significantly increases customer satisfaction.
Give the agent embedded softphone controls, so their fingers never need to leave the keyboard or mouse, saving precious desk space, and reducing unnecessary delays in switching from screen to phone.
Tools like agent scripting and knowledgebase are dramatically improved by using AI and automation. Adding technologies like real-time call transcription can fundamentally change the ways agents interact with customers.
Call transcription, the conversion of speech to text, for both the customer and the agent goes beyond regulatory requirements and quality assurance that initially drove this technology. Real-time call transcription can dynamically drive agent scripting and knowledgebase, prompt the agent when key topics haven’t been covered, and even used to pre-fill forms to reduce agent typing.
One of the best ways to improve the agents experience is to reduce the routine, repeatable tasks asked of agents, like order statuses and address changes. Many tasks can now be handled through IVA (Intelligent Virtual Assistant), both through voice calls and chatbots. When a live agent is needed during an IVA interaction, the reason and the data for the customer’s interaction can be shared with the agent ahead of time.
Mobile App Integration
Deploying the right user flows in a dedicated mobile app can dramatically reduce agent call volumes, but mobile apps can go even further. Giving agents the ability to interact with customers through a mobile app during an interaction, for things like account authorizations, payment verification, and caller authentication significantly reduces call duration and delights both the customer and the agent.
Delighting Agents Is More Important Than Ever
We should all take a moment and recognize how difficult the past few years have been. No other time in our recent history did we have to pivot so quickly and significantly. As we come to a hopeful end to the pandemic, establishing a new normal in customer service is critical. Delighting agents is more important than ever.