Our panel of experts share their favourite contact centre innovations and why they believe they may potentially be so beneficial to your operation.
Micro-scheduling allows your homeworkers self-select their own hours, at least partially – i.e. after they have worked the core hours that you need them to work.
Some people may want to book their hours around the school run, for example, starting at 9.30, stopping at 2.30, and then doing a couple of hours on the late shift in the evening.
This list of preferences will enable planners to build up a complex matrix of availability and enable your business to schedule in a highly flexible way – often right down to 30-minute intervals – in order to match available resource to expected customer demand much more accurately.
Micro-scheduling is hugely beneficial when customer demand is inconsistent across the day. If you operate a car breakdown service, for example, you’ll probably experience two daily peaks aligned with the drive to work and the drive home in the evening.
So do you staff-up on a daily basis to meet “peak demand” and therefore avoid missing any vital customer calls?
Clearly that would be hugely inefficient in terms of resources if it meant people sitting around for large parts of the day with nothing to do. So how about staffing up to “core” levels (however you define that) and then using homeworkers and micro-scheduling to plug the “peak demand” gaps?
Thanks to Mark Walton at Sensée
2. E-Learning and Gamification
It’s no secret that working remotely can take a toll on engagement, especially when employees are trying to juggle home and work commitments and are working outside of their workplace environment away from colleagues and managers.
So, keeping the team engaged is crucial to productivity and their own progression. Just a short bite-sized amount of learning of around five to 15 minutes daily can dramatically help raise employee engagement by giving them a sense of achievement that they’re working towards something.
Ideally, it would be linked to themes or small courses, building up to quizzes or opportunities to demonstrate progression, but a selection of varied videos or knowledge articles are just as effective at keeping them switched on while they work from home.
Thanks to Craig Farley at IP Integration
3. Video Customer Conversations
As we became comfortable with remote working in 2020, we have realized that video is an essential tool to bring teams together and enable supervisors to keep an eye on their team’s health and well-being.
With people still nervous about returning to physical locations, connecting via video will be an essential method of continuing to deliver customer service.
For many call centre representatives, looking the part on a video call is a whole new skill set.
Employees should be set up with the right background (even if it is imposed on a green screen), wear appropriate clothing and undertake training on aspects like maintaining eye contact and ensuring their hands are visible.
Having HD webcams is important in creating a more professional video experience.
Remember, agents will also need a real-time support network to ensure they are delivering the best possible service to customers.
Thanks to Richard Kenny at Poly
4. Sentiment Analysis
One of sentiment analysis’s most useful features is the feedback it presents to agents following a call. Whether it was one-sided, if the customer felt frustrated, or if it went well, sentiment analysis provides emotional insights that help call agents improve their service.
Employee satisfaction is often enhanced through this, as sentiment analysis helps agents to enhance their customer service skills, while the customer experience can also be dramatically improved.
There has been an increased demand for sentiment analysis tools during the pandemic. This is partly because it provides a way for managers to monitor employees’ performance remotely.
Say, for example, a call doesn’t go well. In the office, an employee might have walked over for a chat with their manager to discuss it. Now, sentiment analysis knows when a call has gone badly and can send an automated call report.
While contact centres may be able to function without sentiment analysis, when working remotely its benefits are much more significant.
Thanks to Neil Hammerton at Natterbox
5. Quality Management Automation
Quality management is a perfect candidate for technology innovation. Currently the process of scoring and evaluating agents is manual, time consuming and subject to human bias.
Using automated scoring via natural language understanding (NLU), contact centres can now automatically evaluate and score both conversational and non-conversational data sources on multiple dimensions simultaneously.
By scoring interactions automatically and objectively, businesses can efficiently identify issues across 100% of enquiries along all channels, determine the best order in which to address them, and confidently act on objective information. Interactions could be scored for compliance, soft skills, script adherence, and more!
This approach can also identify where proactive outreach may be needed for agents or customers, where the company’s protocol may need to be revisited, and where coaching opportunities exist for agents.
Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge
6. Google-Verified Calls
Increased volumes of spam calls to our personal devices have resulted in fewer customers answering their phone when a business may need to reach them for something legitimate, be it a personal security threat, rescheduling an important event or notifying them of a loved one’s medical condition.
For those reasons, some contact centre vendors are integrating with Google’s newly introduced Verified Calls service.
Even in its infancy, the app is becoming a preloaded feature on all future Android devices and is available for download on existing Android devices.
Google’s Verified Calls service differentiates legitimate inbound calls from spammers by displaying a brand/company logo to aid recognition This signals to the customer that a business has been authenticated by Google, identifying the call as legitimate.
Thanks to Alicja Robertson at Aspect Software
7. Cloud-Based Digital Models
Many innovative contact centres will look to adopt a more agile digital service model, now that digital channels like live chat and messaging apps are coming to the fore.
In fact, according to the graph below – taken from a 2020 Call Centre Helper report – it won’t be longer than three years until the vast majority of contact centres report that over half of their contacts come through digital channels.
To better handle these digital contacts, organizations will work hard to create a cloud-based digital service model that allows seamless integration of voice and digital channels.
These digital models will also support multiple self-service options – like self-help and chatbots – and make it easy to add new digital channels in the future.
Thanks to Aviad Abiri at NICE
8. Self-Service Tools
Self-service is becoming the customer service method of choice within the contact centre. Customers have developed a strong bond with the convenience of being able to solve issues themselves at their own pace and in their own time.
Customers have developed a strong bond with the convenience of being able to solve issues themselves at their own pace and in their own time.
Although customer self-service within the contact centre is not a new concept, by 2021, many organizations are likely to start implementing this innovation as it benefits not only the customer but also the agent.
If the customer finds clarification or quick answers to issues themselves, then they won’t bother calling the contact centre, shortening call queues and allowing agents to concentrate on solving complex issues instead.
9. Hybrid Ways of Working
2020 has been a rollercoaster. For one, it’s pushed us into the realm of remote working. Regardless of what 2021 brings, contact centres should avoid “going back to the norm” when it comes to different ways of working.
Contact centre managers should evaluate how well working from home has worked for the organization and employees alike – and they should also be reflective of individuals’ choices and preferences.
The benefits of working from home are apparent – including a healthier work/life balance, lack of commute and even increased productivity and focus.
Contact centres should use this as a time to be reflective, avoiding “going back to normal” straight away and being prepared to review and accept change if it works for the organization.
Thanks to Alex Stenton-Hibbert at Business Systems
10. An Evolution of Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is nothing new, but the profound impact of variables such as changing expectations and engagement preferences, along with shifting attitudes to emerging trends, technology and process adoption, is.
Therefore, CSAT must be measured diligently and consistently, at all stages of the customer journey.
To raise their CSAT scores, some contact centres solely focus on first call resolution (FCR) rates. This is a mistake. The KPI they should be scrutinizing is their customer churn rate.
Granted, attracting new customers drives growth, but losing customers bankrupts companies.
Do you want customers to continue doing business with you?
Factor in regular, relevant and real-time feedback. Contact centres exist to serve. As such, they should be the virtual front door to a business, never an emergency exit.
Thanks to Neil Titcomb at Odigo
11. Virtual Assistants and Chatbots
Conversation AI – i.e. virtual assistants or chatbots – can resolve many customer requests and problems upfront in the call.
Yet it’s not always necessary for customers to speak to a live agent to receive service, meaning agents can reserve their time and skills for more strategic customer tasks that require intuitive, human reasoning that AI can’t replicate.
For example, a customer might call a retailer’s customer service number to check the status of their order. The AI bot can validate the customer’s identity and order number, ask what they need help with, identify the corresponding solution keywords, ask follow-up questions and fully resolve the issue.
Improvements spurred by conversational AI have the potential to impact the employee experience, customer experience and organizations’ bottom line.
Thanks to Andy Bird at Lifesize | Serenova
12. Customer Analytics
With AI-driven analytics businesses can get (and act on) findings without the help of internal expertise.
Contact centre analytics is finding – and telling you about – issues you didn’t even know you had, and that makes a difference in business results and customer experience.
Imagine this… your agent is on a call, and they have real-time gauges that tell them how they are performing in that real-time conversation based on behaviours that ensure a great customer service.
Also, automated discovery enables you to find issues creating poor sentiment in several interactions, and ties them to related conversations, all in a drill-down interactive dashboard.
Then, automatically feed those topics back in for real-time quality and coaching, ensuring closed-loop feedback – without manual intervention.
Thanks to Laura Basset at NICE InContact
13. Virtual Contact Centre Enhancements
Delivering excellent customer service now goes beyond the physical walls of the contact centre.
With the increased move to cloud-based contact centres where communications are concerned, agents will be increasingly empowered to service customers through a single interface from anywhere in the world.
Customer service teams will need to know they can do their jobs from anywhere, because their entire communications system is in the cloud and easily accessible with an internet connection.
Effective output analysis of customer–agent engagements generated through AI tools will increasingly identify trends and patterns of frequent requests and the best practices needed to solve them.
Thanks to Rodolpho Cardenuto at Vonage
14. Identifying At-Risk Customers
While there have always been vulnerable customers, more people than ever are faced with unemployment, financial hardships, illness and more.
Organizations need to have a strategy for identifying at-risk customers and equipping contact centre agents to manage customer relationships with sensitivity, flexibility and emotional intelligence.
Analytics solutions help contact centres capture, analyse and monitor 100% of customer interactions across multiple channels in a single system. This includes monitoring for specific words and phrases that indicate vulnerability and assessing emotion like agitation and stress.
Once organizations identify vulnerable customers, they can properly equip agents with real-time guidance on how to best to communicate, directions on how to stay compliant and deliver fair outcomes and post-interaction training to improve future performance.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
15. Passive Voice Verification
Most organizations rely on active voice authentication to confirm a caller’s identity and limit access to sensitive information to specific callers.
However, this method requires a caller to knowingly participate in authentication by verbalizing a pass phrase or providing personal identifiable information (PII) like the last four digits of a credit card. However, that data isn’t always secure.
Enter passive voice verification. It tracks the caller’s identity during the entire duration of the call, without their knowledge. It takes the caller’s current voiceprint and matches it against their archived voiceprint to detect imposters, plus it matches the current voiceprint against archived voiceprints of known fraudsters.
Contact centres can also use passive voice verification to quickly identify valued customers and provide them with VIP service. Plus, it can increase success rates in outbound marketing activities by knowing which person in a household may be most responsive to a certain pitch.
Thanks to Yasir Bugrara at Voci Technologies
16. Automating Complex Processes
Are clunky or inconsistent IT processes slowing down agents and customer experience? Is technology, including CRM system issues, holding people back? Find out fast with effective desktop and process analytics and then switch to smarter technology and processes.
Consider optimizing complex processes such as staff scheduling using the latest intelligent adherence solutions or deploy sentiment analysis and stress predictors to nip employee motivation issues in the bud.
These analytics systems work well alongside chatbots that communicate the latest schedules, opportunities for overtime or important company updates on current issues including safe homeworking to all frontline staff.
The latest bots can also be used to automate employee requests and approvals for shift changes and time off. They also provide agents with immediate personalized recommendations on schedule changes.
Thanks to Magnus Geverts at Calabrio
For more from our panel of experts, read our articles: