by Dana Averbouch, NICE

Regardless of whether they returned home with a medal or not, every athlete that participated in the Olympic games demonstrated what is possible when people perform at the limit of their ability. Clearly, these athletes have talent but for them to achieve the superhuman efforts we watch from our sofas that talent needs to be recognised, nurtured and honed. Only then can they replicate the same high standards consistently over and over again.

Start treating contact centre agents like athletes

The approach most contact centres take to training and coaching their agents is the equivalent of a group class in the gym. Regardless of their needs and talents, everyone does the same exercises. Anyone who does gym classes regularly will tell you, it will get you fit (if you don’t hide at back and put the effort in), but it won’t get you to the Olympics.

One answer would be to give each of your agents their own ‘personal trainer’, but in the real world this is cost and resource prohibitive. Another, approach is to look at ways to coach, train and schedule agents in a highly personalised way using intelligent automation. This is an approach that is being referred to in the contact centre industry as Adaptive Workforce Optimization.

In just the same way that coaches of professional athletes monitor huge amounts of performance data, Adaptive Workforce Optimization pulls information from many different sources – Customer surveys and feedback, Performance Management, speech and desktop analytics and more. And looks for each individual agent’s…

  • Preferences – Shift schedule, personal goals, incentives, development
  • Attributes – Articulate, personable, patient, knowledgeable etc.
  • Metrics – NPS, CSAT, FCR, compliance and attendance etc.

The system then analyses and correlates the data and builds ‘personas’ for each agent, establishing a model that accurately predicts their individual needs, in order to create and deliver a personalised development program, with training and recommendations that are fine-tuned to their individual improvement needs and longer term career objectives.

Adaptive Workforce Optimization in action

Katerina is a millennial graduate starting out in her contact centre career in sales and service, while Mo is a little older and has been working in the same role for some time and has ambitions of becoming a Team Leaders. Katerina has low customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, whilst Mo is underperforming on his first call resolution (FCR).

This Adaptive Workforce Optimization system can determine that because Katerina is beginning a career in sales and service, she needs more self-assessment opportunities to improve her CSAT scores, along with peer coaching. She is also scheduled for afternoon shifts where she performs better and is given real-time guidance (actions and information during an interactions) to help fine tune her ability to identify cross and up-sell opportunities.

Meanwhile, the more experienced Mo is also provided with self-assessment opportunities but these are tightly focused on those that resulted in a repeat call, to help improve his FCR. He also receives real-time guidance to help with his tendency to get overly excited and talk too fast, and unlike Katerina, he performs better in the morning, so this is when his shifts are scheduled.

In addition to the rewards to the contact centre, wider business and of course the customers, of better performing agents, Contact Centre Managers and Team Leaders also benefit from the impact Adaptive Workforce Optimisation has on recruitment. Just as those running sports teams use the data they have, to understand the attributes of a winner and in turn leverage it to find and attract new talent (the GB rowing and cycling teams are great examples of this), the same is true of onboarding agents.

By treating your agents as athletes you will be following a continuous programme of improvement that transforms each of them into champions, performing consistently to the best of their ability (and your objectives), interaction after interaction. They will be more motivated to improve and less likely to want to leave a winning team, where they feel valued, challenged and are growing both personally and professionally.

For more information about Adaptive Workforce Optimisation, you can watch a recorded webinar hosted by Jim Davies, Senior Analyst at Gartner, entitled The Impact of the Agent Persona on Adaptive Workforce Optimisation.

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