Valur SvanssonValur SvanssonMarch 29, 2019
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6min1567

This article was co-authored by Josh Ayres, Head of Emerging Technology at IP Integration.

 

This week, 5,000 Contact Centre professionals descended on London for the Call and Contact Centre Expo – a two-day, annual event centred around Customer Experience management. 

Exhibitor stands and seminars were awash with talk of the sector’s coming of age as it embarks on a period of digitalisation, with emerging technologies placing the industry firmly on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution.

Among the speakers was OmniTouch International’s Daniel Ord, who leads CXM’s Contact Centre Masterclass.

It is an exciting time for the Contact Centre. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Contact Analytics, and chatbots have opened up a world of possibilities and are changing the face of the Contact Centre – enabling brands to shorten processes, and free up agents to spend more time on delivering an exceptional Customer Experience.

How to smooth the path to digital transformation

The benefits of these emerging technologies are undeniable. Take the chatbot as an example: at a very basic level, it reduces pressure on the Call Centres, giving customers an additional outlet and instant access to information. From a financial perspective the benefits only continue, with research indicating that the use of chatbots will result in cost savings of over $8 billion by 2020, primarily in banking and healthcare. In fact, leading analyst house Gartner believes that by 2020, chatbots should take over 85 percent of customer service interactions.

However, before looking to implement any new tool, organisations must define their goals so that the path to digital transformation reflects their brand values and is also focused on what that organisation needs. Less attention should be given to the features that vendors are promoting.

The customer is king

As with any implementation, questions need to be asked. How will the technology fit into the Contact Centre? Which systems does the tool need to integrate with? How will it be rolled out to customers? How will employees use and embrace the automation tools?

There are no right or wrong answers here, and no one-size-fits-all approach; instead organisations must choose tools based on what provides the greatest value, while offering the simplest integration for the most manageable cost. The customer must also be a prime consideration here, and the impact of any technology on a customer’s journey with a brand must be assessed.

The adoption of technology, if done well, should only enhance this customer journey. After all, customers today expect so much more from their brands than ever before; expecting instant access to information, irrespective of the channel used, as and when they want it. Speeding up processes through automation, providing live chat functionality, and digital agents will only improve Customer Experience levels more.

Time to invest?

It goes without saying that the better the Customer Experience, the happier the customer. A happier customer means better review ratings, greater referrals, increased return business, and potentials for upselling. In the Contact Centre – the voice of a brand – this is more important than ever.

Digital transformation will not happen overnight – nor should it. Change should be considered and measured based upon an organisation’s requirements and what suits its customers and objectives best. What’s great is that with a host of amazing technology to pick from, the time has never been better to start a journey of transformation.


Valur SvanssonValur SvanssonFebruary 5, 2019
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7min1697

Usually referring to romantic relationships or friendships, when one partner starts to ignore the other without any explanation, the practice of ‘ghosting’ has now hit the workplace.

It refers to situations when employees walk out of their jobs without so much as a goodbye, or when candidates with a job offer simply disappear, never bothering to respond, or – if they do accept – failing to turn up on day one. Some people have even pretended that they’ve died in order to avoid awkward conversations with their would-be employer.

In the US, where unemployment levels are at an all-time low and there are more vacancies than job-seekers, employees seem to feel little remorse about walking away. The term even made it into the US Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book, which reports on changing economic conditions in the US, suggesting that ghosting is a significant trend and not just a flash in the pan.

The trend is catching on in the UK too. According to CV-Library, a somewhat surprising one in ten working professionals in the UK have ghosted their employer, citing reasons such as mistreatment by management, unrealistic workloads, and/or a lack of flexibility in their schedules.

These reasons might be legitimate, but the underlying driver for ghosting is the lack of employee engagement. Staff can easily become frustrated – and have their heads turned by others – when a working culture becomes dysfunctional, when there is a breakdown of communication or when they spend their days on boring and demotivating tasks because they don’t have access to the rights tools and technology

The effect on call centres

This disappearance of employees is a particularly worrying prospect for call centres, where turnover is consistently high due to the challenging nature of the role. Agents are expected to deal with frustrated customers eager for answers they are not always equipped to support, often with clunky software that is years behind the technology they use in their everyday lives.

Working in a contact centre can be hard. If an agent believes they have better career prospects elsewhere, it’s no surprise that they want to leave, and ghosting removes the need to even explain their motivations.

How to tackle ghosting

By focusing on improving employee engagement, contact centre operators can find a solution to this most modern of problems. In essence, this involves providing employees with more reasons to stay than to leave.

Here are just a few ways to keep agents happy:

Audit & upgrade technology: According to Ultimate Software, 92 percent of workers say that having the right technology directly impacts their job satisfaction. Teams may grow frustrated if their call centre tech is lagging behind the apps and gadgets they use outside of work.

Offer well-defined career paths: Agents want to develop their careers. If they feel valued and recognise the benefits in staying in their role with the chance to advance through the ranks, they are less likely to look elsewhere. Technology can help with this career development. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and smartbots stop agents from having to undertake repetitive tasks, freeing up their time so they can concentrate on complex, more rewarding activities. They could even become robot team leaders, overseeing a team of digital workers; a highly sought-after new skill.

Reward everyday achievements: Recognising and rewarding employees who achieve great results is another simple way for employees to feel appreciated. Gamification by, for example, the visualisation of employee KPIs encourages competition and teamwork. A simple wallboard can do this to great effect.

Offer competitive wages: Of course, pay is a highly motivating factor. If people are offered a competitive salary, they are going to see the value in staying put.

The cumulative benefits of improving employee engagement

Boosting employee engagement has many other advantages too.

The loss of talented agents is never a good thing, especially when it affects overall contact centre performance. If agents are motivated, they are more likely to provide exceptional customer service. More often than not, happy staff also means happy customers. What’s more, lowering staff turnover rates also helps reduce costs associated with recruiting, on-boarding, training and IT provisioning.

Employee engagement programmes also help with the retention of the very best talent. The brightest agents tend to be the most alert to better job offers. It is vital to keep the highest achieving – and usually most profitable and valuable – agents focused on, and motivated by, their current roles.

Ghosting is inconvenient and impolite, but it’s not only the wayward employee who is at fault. It’s a warning sign that staff feel demotivated, unhappy, frustrated and under-valued; and the business must take some share of the blame.

To fix this, contact centres should focus on incorporating labour-saving technology that frees up agent time so they can focus on more inspiring tasks. By creating a more positive employee experience, companies will soon find that there are fewer reasons for staff to pull a disappearing act.




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