Published: September 15, 2020 | Comments
As a recent FT article highlighted, “The image of a seamless, 24-hour global work ethic (from the contact center industry), relies to a great extent on humans in large offices – ‘butts on seats.’” Covid-19 is dramatically changing the contact center landscape as we know it, and much of that workforce is dispersed.
So what critical disciplines and tools are the foundation of great management of your business in this changing landscape? And how can you evolve to ensure you’re getting the best performance and customer satisfaction possible, wherever you can?
Here are some ideas on how best to support your agents:
Onboarding and Culture
The best candidate for the job may look different than before. You may be looking for completely different people compared to your traditional hires. You’re going to need self-starters who are motivated and that aren’t afraid to speak up as they settle into their new role.
Once you find the right candidate, you need to integrate them effectively into the organization. You need to ensure your new agents aren’t just thrown in the deep-end. According to Glassdoor, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Despite this, a study by Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.
Make sure you have a robust onboarding process where:
- Each new team-member member gets to meet their team and key managers in the business. Give them a feel for your company culture even if it’s only via video calls.
- You can cover all the HR aspects and get the admin out of the way as quickly as possible.
- You can ease new team-members into the role by showing them the systems and procedures through video training.
Appoint a mentor – a key person your new hire can go to when they’re feeling anxious or have any questions as they settle into the role, and encourage them to schedule regular, virtual coffee meetings. According to HCI, 87% of organizations that assign an ambassador or buddy program during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.
You’ll see we are discussing company culture. We know it’s difficult to keep this going while everyone is working remotely but it’s vital, as a BreatheHR’s Culture Economy Report 2020 highlighted, estimating that toxic workplaces cost the UK economy £15.7 bn ($21 billion) every year. Encouraging existing employees as well as new agents to contribute to conversations, turn up on team calls, and join in online quizzes or cocktail hours will help to keep people motivated even in this disjointed world.
Best Tools for the Job
AI and voice analytics are changing the way in which many businesses operate and contact centres are no different. Conversational analytics will help you to analyze the vocabulary and sentiment in your most established performers and pick up on where new starters are struggling, too. This is so important when you’re unable to stroll around your call center and listen into conversations taking place.
Here’s a reminder of why conversational analytics (CA) is so important for your agents:
- Agents require less training or can move on to different campaigns without spending hours reading reams of training manuals.
- Your agents have the ability to focus on the conversation, rather than the process, which means both agent and customer have a better experience. That means your staff retention improves dramatically.
- It provides actionable insights to help improve performance and motivate agents.
Automating the intensive process of monitoring agent-customer interactions at scale can help to highlight which agents might need further training, and on what in particular. Also, there are repetitive call center tasks, such as listening to agents calls and manually evaluating agent’s performance or screening the calls for quality assurance, that can be automated to make the role more enjoyable. Given automation is a proven way to reduce attrition investing in automation makes even more sense when you look at the numbers.
The Customer is Always King
You’ve heard it before, but your agents should never forget that delivering frictionless customer experience is critical to your organization’s success. Help them to really understand what makes your customers tick, the variety of different requirements and to share experiences with their peers to help better the experience for all. It’s also important to remind your team, no matter how difficult the client interaction is, that being polite and positive will pay dividends.
It takes a certain type of person to succeed in a contact center, and an incredibly motivated one to work from home successfully. Covid-19 has been a catalyst for digital transformation this year, pushing businesses from all industries to embrace smarter technology and smarter policies to support their people and allow their operations to thrive. Solutions that you once viewed as a “nice to have” are now a necessity.