Our panel of experts share their tips for modernizing the contact centre, giving lots of interesting advice along the way.
1. Treat Shift Patterns as an Employee Engagement Opportunity
We can no longer assume that new young recruits want to work five-day, 37.5-hour weeks. For many, that does not sound appealing at all.
So, modern contact centres will be experimenting with shift patterns to better suit these changing lifestyles, instead of thinking in an efficiency-first, Tetris-like manner.
If they can succeed, advisors will be happier and attrition will drop, and that will result in a better, more experienced team supporting their customers.
This is a goal that forward-thinking contact centres like Domestic & General in Brighton are working towards. They surveyed their advisors to find out which shift patterns would best suit them and the most popular option was a four-day, 37.5-hour week – as we found out on a recent site visit.
For more insight into the various scheduling options: The Best Shift Patterns for the Contact Centre
2. Consider Homeworking to Increase Efficiency
Homeworking is becoming an increasingly popular option for contact centres, as advisors are less limited by travel. The initiative can also increase the pool of advisors you can recruit from, in these times where contact centre recruitment is becoming more challenging.
However, homeworking is also a great tool for improving efficiency, through supporting your resource planning, as it makes things like drafting advisors in when contact volumes are unexpectedly high much easier.
The only worry for many is in tracking the performance of homeworking advisors. But with many contact centres now implementing a homeworking scheme, these wrinkles are being ironed out.
In fact, our 2019 research suggests that only 42.0% of contact centres have ruled out introducing such an initiative in the near future, making homeworking a significant part of the modern contact centre.
3. Think More Scientifically About How to Boost Employee Engagement
In many contact centres, employee engagement only goes as far as playing motivational games and maybe a Halloween dress-up or Christmas decoration initiative. We need to move beyond that.
Many of us will have now realized that happy employees make happy customers, but how can we apply this principle to the contact centre?
The modern contact centre will think about this question carefully and look at ways to improve advisor engagement that are backed up by science.
These include creating a sense of purpose around the customer, systematically managing advisor engagement and increasing team leader–advisor communication.
I discuss some of these ideas to increase employee engagement further with industry expert Natalie Calvert in a recent episode of The Contact Centre Podcast.
For more information on this podcast visit Podcast – Employee Engagement: Thinking Beyond Happy Employees Make Happy Customers
Thanks to Charlie Mitchell at Call Centre Helper
4. Kaizen – “Let It Flow” and Eliminate Wasteful Processes
The Japanese principles of Kaizen seek to make continual improvements in personal, home, social, and working life in the same way that contact centres are constantly looking to boost advisor productivity and customer satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at one Kaizen principle in particular, “Let It Flow”. This means eliminating anything wasteful that detracts from running a slick operation.
One such time waster is email traffic, as managers and leaders are sometimes overwhelmed by emails regarding events, shift-swaps, lost property and so on. Modern contact centres will better manage this email flow.
Think about whether these communications can be shifted to a larger community group or intranet platform, which you can oversee, instead of responding to every single email.
So, think about whether these communications can be shifted to a larger community group or intranet platform, which you can oversee, instead of responding to every single email.
Then there is also the option of taking control of your calendar and bookmarking time to look at email, instead of having it take up large random parts of your day.
5. Give Advisors a “Bot Buddy”
With their data processing capacity, artificial intelligence (AI) bots can sift through practically unlimited amounts of information so that advisors don’t have to and can instead concentrate their efforts on the customer.
The more bot buddies are used, the better they get. View them as dedicated virtual personal assistants for advisors.
For example, the latest application of chatbots maximizes AI learning from the contact centre and other parts of the business to provide advisors with the real-time knowledge they need, along with suggested solutions to solve customer queries.
Also, advisors can engage with their customers through speech or text while the virtual technology works hard behind the scenes, using inbuilt intelligence to respond to advisor enquiries and support staff in real time to be an invaluable advisor assist tool.
Thanks to Thomas Rødseth at Puzzel
6. Bring Customer Emotion to the Fore
The modern contact centre should be focusing on customer emotions and building empathy as the nature of contacts entering contact centres becomes increasingly complex.
So the modern contact centre will look to build emotional intelligence and empathy amongst its staff extensively in training, role-playing scenarios where these skills are required.
The modern contact centre will look to build emotional intelligence and empathy amongst its staff extensively in training.
A contact centre with modern technology may look to build on this and those with speech analytics can look further into the emotional context of each interaction.
With such a system, it is also possible to identify trends in the data, such as keywords and phrases that deliver more successful call outcomes and help in driving an emotional connections with customers.
7. Help Advisors to Handle Multiskilled Tasks
In the past, contact centres have often focused their advisors on carrying out single tasks. While this may have created advisors who were experts in meeting specific customer needs, it doesn’t meet the needs of a modern call centre.
Modern call centres are automating simple and repetitive transactions and need their advisors to be capable of handling and resolving more complex issues. These “super advisors” need to be expert in a range of different skills.
These skills could include closing sales, solving problems, collecting debt, retaining customers, converting calls triggered by marketing campaigns and upselling.
Super-advisors will also need to be able to perform well across multiple channels and switch between them as contact volumes fluctuate.
By boosting workforce management (WFM), improving their coaching programmes and utilizing other technologies to identify multiskilled advisors, modern contact centres will address customer needs better by ensuring that the right advisors with the right skills are available at the right time.
Thanks to Frank Sherlock at CallMiner
8. Use Gamification to Tackle the Challenges of Flexible Working
Flexible working is evolving rapidly, and although remote employment offers many tangible benefits to both advisors and employers, it’s not without its challenges.
One such challenge for contact centres offering homeworking is in keeping homeworking advisors engaged and motivated. This is where gamification software can be helpful.
A gamification platform linked to specific company key performance indicators (KPIs) that uses game mechanics such as points, badges, leaderboards, rewards and recognition is ideal for motivating desired behaviours and improving business outcomes.
Gamification can support remote advisors, by providing fun and compelling training, helping avoid isolation, and by keeping the lines of communication open, while it can also track and reward adoption or use of best practices and deliver continuous feedback.
Thanks to Sian Ciabattoni at Noble Systems
9. Rethink the Advisor Desktop
Today’s consumers are digital-first and so are today’s next-gen advisors. However, many contact centres still use phone-centric advisor desktop tools in this modern world.
When desktop tools do not help advisors, the customer experience suffers as well. Yet, according to Gartner, 84% of contact centre advisors say that their desktop tools are not very helpful in handling customer queries.
One solution to help to modernize the advisor desktop is to layer a digital-first desktop on top of legacy desktops or use a digital-first desktop in tandem with a legacy desktop in a “duo” mode.
Many organizations are effectively using the duo mode with one monitor showing customer context from systems of record, such as the CRM, and the other monitor featuring a digital-first desktop.
Thanks to Anand Subramaniam at eGain
10. Focus on Reducing Customer Effort (and Surveys!)
Customer journeys are ideally as frictionless as possible, so modern contact centres will be tracking customer effort in some way, but it is best to do this without surveys, as these bring their own frictions.
Relying solely on surveys to measure these metrics is inadequate due to low sample sizes as well as the inherent bias of survey takers. And we don’t want customers associating us with junk mail and survey fatigue either.
Relying solely on surveys to measure these metrics is inadequate due to low sample sizes as well as the inherent bias of survey takers…
The modern contact centre should not measure effort by surveys alone. It is much better to do so by analysing the words, sentiment, emotion and tone used in actual conversations.
By applying text analytics and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to evaluate the level of effort expressed in any piece of customer feedback, contact centres can now quantify their customers’ effort across all feedback and interaction channels.
11. Automate Much of Your Quality Process
Insights and analytics in the contact centre have traditionally required quality auditors to manually sample and listen to calls.
However, in the last couple of years, machine learning and AI technology have started to support the use of analytics to identify insights and enable fast, scalable coaching in near real time.
Also, this approach allows organizations to evaluate 100% of the customer interactions instead of basing decisions on two to five calls per advisor each month, as might be the case when calls are scored manually.
Automatic scoring based on a set of customizable criteria allows consistent, objective assessment of behaviour, such as advisor quality, compliance, customer effort, sentiment, emotion or simply customer intent.
Thanks to Shorit Ghosh at Clarabridge
12. Revaluate Your KPIs to Ensure You’re Measuring the Right Things
One good place to start when modernizing your contact centre is to make sure you can gather and report the right KPIs.
KPIs can tell you whether something is a trend or a fad, identify gaps in meeting performance targets and provide unmistakable proof of the value your contact centre delivers to your organization.
Yet legacy call centre systems often lack adequate data collection and reporting, which is a key reason why many modern contact centres have moved to the cloud.
With these enhanced reporting capabilities, round out your KPI suite by focusing on metrics that align with your organization’s strategies (e.g. loyalty, low cost).
Then, ensure that each department sets the same performance targets, analyses the results and makes moves to close gaps.
Thanks to Mark Ungerman at NICE inContact
13. Ensure That the Front Office and Back Office Are Working Together
Collaboration between departments within any organization can deliver positive results. The front and back office of a contact centre are no exception.
Both departments are involved in the full customer journey and, as such, a more holistic approach needs to be taken in order to deliver a good customer experience.
Blending a contact centre’s front office (customer facing) and the back office (indirect interactions with customers) has always been a tricky task. However, both departments are involved in the full customer journey and, as such, a more holistic approach needs to be taken in order to deliver a good customer experience.
Modern workforce optimization technology, such as OPX, can be used to integrate processes, provide cross-operational visibility and drill down into data between the two departments.
Moreover, it can feed data through the inbound interaction systems to give customers the accurate estimates or updates on completion times that they are now demanding.
14. Revisit Your Routing Strategies
It’s nothing new that customers want to get in touch with organizations in whatever way most convenient for them, pushing contact centres to adopt an omnichannel approach.
But, with that in mind, it also means that they must be able to service the customer seamlessly from one touchpoint to another by connecting customer journeys across any channel.
Get omnichannel right, and you can retain up to 89% of your customers, compared to only 33% for those with weak omnichannel campaigns – according to Invesp.
An omnichannel routing solution can make advisors and employees more productive too. Rather than having to jump from one tool to the next, advisors can find everything they need within the same environment.
Thanks to Garry White at Business Systems
15. Use Speech Analytics to Gather More Customer Insights
Calling is still many customers’ preferred method of communication with a business, with the majority believing that speaking to someone is the fastest way to resolve an issue.
So the potential to gain valuable insights from voice-related customer interactions is clear, and experts forecast that the speech analytics market will reach $1.6 billion by 2020.
With speech analytics, contact centre managers can get a clearer and more complete picture about what is happening during customer conversations and use this information to create actionable strategies that will boost top-line growth.
Supervisors will also be able to search through call recordings for specific keywords and phrases that can provide a window into customer attitudes and advisor performance.
Thanks to Tim Kimber at NewVoiceMedia
For more from our panel of experts, read our articles: