Calabrio - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 5
With customer expectations at an all-time high, brands have never been under more pressure to deliver a great customer experience if they want to compete for business and, ultimately, customer loyalty. For contact centers, that means being accessible when customers need help and offering unprecedented levels of service. This pressure to deliver such a lofty experience is forcing contact centers to modernize, and the cloud is the key to helping them get there.
At Calabrio, we know that the stakes are high, and we’ve designed our entire platform around the needs of the modern contact center. As contact centers evaluate how to deliver the multichannel experience customers want, there is one need clearly rising to the surface: flexibility. With the new Calabrio ONE platform, contact centers now have the ultimate flexibility to move to the cloud and modernize in any way they choose. This includes accommodating:
- Customer needs – Customers want to communicate with brands anywhere and at any time. This means that brands must be ready and available with a multichannel strategy.
- Agent needs – Agents must be both equipped and motivated to deliver the experience that customers want, and that means being engaged and accessible, regardless of time zone or location.
- Enterprise IT needs – Technical operations groups require the flexibility to integrate various applications to solve enterprise problems. The Calabrio ONE platform is built in such a way that it seamlessly integrates with other applications to truly uncover new insights to drive business efficiencies.
To say this is a tall order is an understatement. So how, then, can brands deliver that level of flexibility and accessibility? The answer lies in the Calabrio ONE platform.
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A Flexible Contact Center Platform
The cloud offers unprecedented accessibility for both customers and agents, and it gives contact centers the tools they need to deliver on the promise of a great customer experience. However, platform flexibility is critical as contact centers take steps to modernize because, for many brands, the move to the cloud simply won’t happen overnight. At Calabrio, we understand that every contact center has different needs and that no two deployments are the same.
This is exactly why we designed the Calabrio ONE platform to be the same seamless experience, whether brands choose an on-premises, hybrid, or full cloud deployment. The IT department has full flexibility to move seamlessly from an on-premises solution to the cloud with an ACD-agnostic solution that offers feature parity across all deployment methods. With the Calabrio ONE platform, contact centers have a clear path to the cloud through our flexible infrastructure, all without sacrificing features or consistency.
A Flexible Customer Experience
Calabrio ONE allows companies to communicate with customers across all channels, at any time. With this level of full accessibility, agents can work from different locations—including from home—and across time zones, which gives customers the “always on” service that they want. Every agent, regardless of location, has the same Calabrio ONE solutions at his or her fingertips, allowing the contact center to create a consistent customer experience while giving agents the flexibility that they need.
With Calabrio ONE, brands can:
- Meet business requirements in any IT environment
- Scale to accommodate staffing fluctuations and meet customer demand
- Move to the cloud whenever, however they want
- Give agents the tools they need to be accessible, regardless of location
There’s no doubt about it: contact centers must modernize in order to meet the expectations of customers, and the cloud will get them there. Brands must be everywhere, on every channel, and easily accessible to deliver the right customer experience. To achieve that accessibility, they must have new levels of flexibility to deploy a solution that gets them to the cloud however and whenever they want. With the best technology and the most flexible deployment options, Calabrio ONE gives the modern contact center the tools it needs to meet, and exceed, customer expectations.
Want to know more about what the modern contact center looks like? Learn more about contact center technology trends including the rise of cloud.
Publish Date: November 15, 2016 5:00 AM
We are experiencing change all the time, and today, more rapidly so than ever. Products, technologies, the business landscape, expectations – they’re all in a constant state of flux. This is nothing new. How companies are developing a competitive advantage has also changed.
Customer care is the new competitive advantage
In the eyes of many business analysts, companies can no longer compete by simply driving manufacturing costs down or gaining detailed data on customer trends. These efforts have long been maximized, if not exhausted. Today, companies are competing for the loyalty of customer directly through the service(s) they offer. Neil Smit, President/Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable and Executive Vice-President of Comcast Corporation, says: “Put simply, customer service should be our best product.”
In a similar vein, Gartner estimated that by the end of 2016, 89 percent of companies – in contrast to just 36 percent four years ago – expect to compete largely on the basis of customer experience.
Contact centers are obviously trying to gain ground here by ensuring that agents meet – better yet, surpass – customer demands. So, since this is where the heart of competitive advantage lies today, wouldn’t it make sense to do everything in your power to see to it that extraordinary customer experiences are being delivered by agents and that measures are planned and taken to ensure continual improvement in your contact center?
What have you done to help?
Stop and think for a minute: What concrete measures have you taken and/or are you taking to ensure that this is happening in your contact center, now and in the future? You could, for example, take out the contact-center team (not all of them at once, mind you) for an out-of-the-ordinary lunch on a regular basis. You see, the key here is maintaining – better yet, raising – agent motivation and satisfaction, and rewarding excellent results. Remember, agents, through their front-line contact with customers, also have the power to make or break customer loyalty.
Amidst the development of this competitive differentiator, we’re witnessing a number of powerful trends. Artificial Intelligence systems, for example, are taking over many of the simpler tasks. Technology today can replace a bus driver with an automated, self-steering bus in the middle of a busy city, quickly taking passengers to desired locations.
Robots just don’t make it
However, more complicated tasks, such as delivering the very best customer experiences, can still not be carried out by robots or automation. Neither can a fantastic website or the latest Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system replace human agents. When customer calls, chats or e-mails come in, only well-trained, competent agents, understanding of the customer issue at hand, can provide this.
I’m not talking about needing to deliver WOW experiences; rather, dealing with the issue at hand, quickly, professionally and satisfactorily – with minimum effort required on the part of the customer.
However, agents need to have the right energy and motivation to do so. Automated workforce-management (WFM) solutions can go a long way towards raising the energy and motivation levels of agents, necessary for producing outstanding customer experiences. In fact, today, WFM does far more than just replace clever Excel spreadsheets (even though some may be amazing).
Keep agents focused and motivated
Leaving scheduling, shift swaps, vacation requests and the like to WFM automation keeps agents focused on customers. Imagine the amount of time and effort spent on scheduling, shift swaps and vacation requests through verbal or e-mail exchanges, the answering back and forth, the approvals, the pending approvals, etc., and how that impacts the loss of focus in a +1,000 agent contact center.
Teleopti obviously spends supreme effort working on core WFM functionality, such as schedule optimization. However, equal effort is spent on functions, such as agent preferences, training planning, gamification and mobile interfaces. Why all this effort? Because these make agents more empowered and engaged. Because without energized, competent, informed staff, any contact center will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to compete in the modern business climate – even with the very best optimized scheduling.
As the importance of contact centers expands, so does the scope – and importance – of WFM. If you’re still using Excel sheets for forecasting and scheduling or an older WFM system, do take a look at some of the more modern WFM systems, with a scope far broader than you might possibly have imagined.
Make contact-center staff life easier
Using a modern WFM system is as simple as checking off a few boxes on your smartphone on your way to work. Check for any schedule changes? Swap a shift? Request a day off? Send approval? Check, check check – done. How about matching up five suitable staff members with some vital training, ensuring the right trainer will be in place, that a room is available, and, most importantly, that the service level impact is minimized? ? Check, check check – done.
Publish Date: November 11, 2016 5:00 AM
A recent McKinsey study of 150 call center leaders found that focused investments are needed to improve the skills of contact center agents in both service and sales, and to hire new ones who can handle increasingly complex interactions, in order to cope with changing consumer needs and contact preferences.
This is hardly surprising. The world is rapidly moving towards a sophisticated combination of automation for low value transactions and inquiries, and rich, personalized customer experiences that have the potential to deliver strong differentiation. And this is already translating into smaller teams of highly skilled agents equipped to provide ‘exceptional’ customer service, improve customer engagement, create cross and upsell opportunities, and prevent increasingly demanding customers from defecting.
The same study found that nearly half (47%) of the executives surveyed rated ‘investing in new technologies’ as one of their top priorities over the next five years. So on one hand, contact center leaders need to improve agent skills and recognize that technology investments are required. Yet, as we all know, on the other hand, there is often significant pressure to reduce operational costs. An effective workforce management (WFM) solution will help to cut costs, particularly when combined with improving agent performance.
Therefore, it makes complete sense to adopt an approach that addresses significant improvements in agent performance as well as reducing operational costs. Given the sheer ‘scale’ of the challenge faced by contact centers – often hundreds and thousands of staff are employed – the only way to do this is to pinpoint and replicate key skills and behaviors that deliver the best business outcomes at an individual level – i.e. to address each agent’s specific competency requirements and skill gaps. So how do you do this?
Benchmark employee skills and knowledge
Knowing what skills and knowledge your employees have is crucially important before you can analyze links to positive business performance. Benchmark using all available performance data – sales reports, quality management scores, length of service, training undertaken, etc. – making sure they are values that can be analyzed later and common amongst groups that require comparison.
Determine a clear goal
This is crucial as it drives the direction of any analysis and without clear goals or objectives it is difficult to achieve a real performance gain since you don’t really know what you’re looking for or want to achieve! Plus you’ll waste time and money and be little the wiser at the end of your analysis!
Pinpoint which skills and knowledge are linked to the best business outcomes
Once you have determined your goal, use analytics to identify the causal skills and knowledge factors that are driving the desired business outcomes. Continue by analyzing your best performers but remember, ‘best’ should not be a subjective view. Use available data and analytics to agree the definition of ‘best’ that most accurately fits the organization and its goals and objectives. A competence management solution within a WFM solution goes a long way to show what best performance looks like by pinpointing the key skills of top performers, what they are doing differently/better and how they achieve it. Once gaps have been identified a solution such as Teleopti Competence Manager, flags the best course of action by replicating desirable profiles.
Find and fill gaps
Use analytics to pinpoint skills and knowledge gaps and unearth trends in skill improvements – i.e. which actions are having the most positive impact. The output of this analysis should then be used to make sensible decisions about what development is required: who needs what skills and knowledge – at an individual level.
Test and refine
Continue cyclic measurement and analysis and continue to take relevant, focused actions to maintain positive performance improvements. Analytics should be a continuous investment as, when used over the longer term, it will ensure investment in the right areas based on measured, focused, repeatable proven patterns of improvement rather than perceived areas of need.
It’s clear that the days of an expensive ‘one size fits all’ approach to employee performance optimization are over. A targeted approach not only reduces cost, it also helps employees to do a better job for customers as well as to continuously improve themselves – key drivers to improving and sustaining employee motivation and engagement. In the contact center, these benefits have the potential to reduce unauthorized absence, attrition, recruitment & training costs, and improve key operational metrics such as first contact resolution (FCR), average handling time (AHT) and productivity.
It’s widely accepted that top performing organizations know who their best performers are and exactly why they perform the way they do. They know how to align performance optimization to individual needs and business goals. Granted, the ability to do this may require an investment in technology, but if that leads to more purchases, higher levels of customer retention, more engaged agents, reduced operational costs, and increased profitability, that’s money well spent.
Publish Date: November 4, 2016 5:00 AM
Ben Willmott at Teleopti explains how action-based web tools are the new stars of the show when it comes to workforce management
For today’s team leaders, every minute counts. Shifting business requirements and changing customer habits mean it is vital for managers to have full visibility of their contact centre operations along with the power to adapt agent schedules, at speed, whenever the need arises. Likewise, flexibility in terms of work life balance is important for customer service agents therefore, options such as home-working are becoming increasingly popular.
In modern workforce management (WFM) solutions, integrated web-based scheduling and resource planning enables managers, team leaders and their agents to connect in real-time. Previously sold as add-on modules, the latest action-based web tools are finally coming into their own as an all inclusive part of any self-respecting WFM package. Designed to perform on a range of modern browsers, they encourage collaboration and promote visibility and transparency, a perfect line of sight, for both managers and agents.
Top three benefits of collaboration web-based tools
Bringing agility to the contact centre is a top priority for many contact centre managers. By maximising the functionality of the latest web-based resource planning and scheduling tools, team leaders are guaranteed a wealth of benefits operationally, culturally and commercially. Here are three very good reasons to make them a critical and strategic part of your contact centre strategy:
Always in control – the latest WFM technology offers instantaneous support that puts team leaders and resource planners in control of their contact centre operations at all times and even across different time zones. They can access team schedules and modify them to accommodate seasonal peaks and troughs or unplanned changes in a fast changing environment. Managers are able to compare actual agent status with their schedules and against contracted hours to make informed decisions and necessary improvements quickly.
Furthermore, with access to a wealth of historic data and advanced reporting functionality it becomes possible to speedily predict, create and search future schedules. This will ensure contact centres are well prepared in advance with enough coverage and the right-skilled agents in place to deliver an exceptional multi-channel customer experience at all times.
Intelligent grouping – Incorporating powerful search functionality, web-based tools allow team leaders to group agents cross-company by multiple criteria, such as skills or location. For example, a resource planner could search for agents with a specific language skill across their entire network of offices around the world.Flexible feature sets, such as grouping, performance reviews and the ability to modify schedules, allow team leaders to resolve issues more quickly and make rapid, informed decisions about necessary improvements.
Collaboration all the way – Advanced search, sort and editing functionality gives the entire operations team a clear and accurate overview of expected agent activities at all times and enables team leaders to change shift times and allow swaps in line with agent requests as well as business needs. Make collaboration your contact centre motto – intraday activities, requests and people can all be managed and shared at the click of a mouse in one single, integrated package.
Finally, prepare to create a winning front-line team. When every minute counts, a web-based tool makes it possible to track schedule adherence, monitor individual and team performance (to identify training gaps), set up performance reviews and relevant coaching sessions, all in real-time and without leaving your desk.
Don’t just take our word for it
Take a look at what one of Teleopti’s customers has achieved. Rentalcars.com, the world’s biggest online car rental service, manages 800 sales and customer service advisors to handle over 7.5 million car rentals around the world, every year. The company’s Teleopti solution has been instrumental in ‘looking after people’, in their own words, a top priority for Rentalcars.com. By centralising resource planning, leaders and advisors have a good line of sight of their own and their colleagues’ activities wherever they are. Take a look at the full video Rentalcars.com story here.
Never underestimate the power of web-based technology. The latest collaborative ways of working enable modern team leaders to keep tabs on their contact centre and keep staff motivated and happy. The result? Increased efficiencies in time and costs, unrivalled service quality, loyal customers and a healthy corporate performance – what are you waiting for?
Publish Date: October 28, 2016 5:00 AM
In a recent blog post, we discussed how a solid customer engagement plan starts with an engaged workforce. In the contact center, this means agents who are not only armed with the right tools, training, and technology to best serve customers in every single interaction, but who are focused on building long-term, loyal relationships with customers. As any contact center manager knows, engaging and keeping those agents is easier said than done. It involves continual evaluation to implement best practices, taking conscious steps to reduce employee churn, and proactively implementing tactics to keep agents engaged and motivated. At first glance, that may seem a bit overwhelming, but with a little help from Calabrio technology, you can start moving in the right direction of building great agent relationships so they can build even better ones with your customers.
Implementing Best Practices
Traditionally, analytics have been used to identify customer behavior patterns in data so brands can improve the customer experience, but they’re also key to implementing agent best practices across the contact center. Perhaps you have one agent who consistently resolves calls quickly or has very few repeat inquiries. While this information is a great start, the big question on any manager’s mind is always, “Why?” With Calabrio Analytics, you can get to the heart of that question – and quickly. Speech analytics can identify conversation topics as well as words and phrases that are most effective, and desktop analytics will tell you which resources the agent utilizes during a call. When that information is melded together, you can gain a complete view of the reasons behind an agent’s success and share those best practices with the rest of the team.
Unlock #customerengagement through your #cctr agents with a little help from speech #analytics. Click To Tweet
Reducing Employee Churn
Agent churn is a worry for every contact center manager, and rightfully so. It costs more to hire and train a new team member than it does to invest in an existing one. To help keep your current team together, the most important thing you can do is to quickly identify the signs of a disheartened agent and take active steps to reengage. Calabrio ONE’s agent activity data will help you spot those red flags so you can develop an action plan to prevent the person from seeking employment elsewhere. Maybe there’s an agent who shows little or no activity in the last five to ten minutes of a shift, or the data indicates a surge in dissatisfied customers. When these types of patterns emerge, you can immediately address the issues and guide that agent back on the path to success.
Keeping an engaged staff
When it comes to keeping agents engaged, it’s about more than just heading off potential issues. It’s about proactive implementation of the kinds of perks and programs that motivate the entire contact center team, which often revolves around flexibility. With Calabrio Workforce Management, you can implement performance-based scheduling and self-service options, which allow agents to make shift and vacation requests, access schedules, and view performance metrics. When agents feel valued and like they have a voice in the department, they’re more likely to exude that during interactions with customers.
An engaged #cctr workforce is the key to engaged customers. #custserv #customerengagement Click To Tweet
At Calabrio, we know that an engaged workforce is the key to fostering the types of interactions that create loyal customers. We’ve built our technology around this belief and we’ve seen our customers benefit from transforming the agent experience.
Want to know more about creating the right agent experience? We’d love to connect with you! Click here to contact us.
Publish Date: October 27, 2016 5:00 AM
We know that when a brand delivers great customer experience, customers are more likely to establish a positive connection and long-term loyalty towards that brand. Given this, most companies, including your own, spend countless hours and resources looking for ways to improve customer experience strategies. However, the customer experience is only a part of the equation. Every day, company representatives interact with customers and, within those interactions, your brand has the opportunity to foster customer engagement. Engaged customers are not only likely to purchase more over the course of the relationship, they are more likely to spread positive sentiment about your brand – essentially becoming advocates. Therefore, having a strong customer engagement strategy is key to long-term growth and success, and a solid program starts with the contact center.
In his book, Igniting Customer Connections: Fire Up Your Company’s Growth by Multiplying Customer Experience and Engagement, Anthony Frawley defines customer engagement as “the actions that the customer can take, including buying, posting, tweeting, liking, following, referring, and more.” Engaged customers really are your brand’s best friends. According to Influitive, “companies that have improved customer engagement increase cross-sell by 22 percent, drive up-sell revenue from 13 to 51 percent, and also increase order sizes from 5 to 85 percent.” Now, imagine the opportunity that lies within your contact center if you improve customer engagement – even incrementally.
The customer engagement opportunity reinforces the importance of every phone call, email, or chat session. If contact center agents aren’t prepared, or the company is not measuring contact center interactions and outcomes, your customer engagement strategy is not likely to yield the returns you want. For more than 10 years, Calabrio has helped brands of all sizes pave the path to superior customer engagement and, through this experience, we’ve found the right combination of consulting and contact center technology to help your brand turn customers into advocates.
Analytics, Analytics, Analytics
Did I mention analytics? While many brands employ analytics technology in the contact center, not all are getting the value that they’d hoped – and it is often rooted in application. You can use analytics to see how your customers prefer to communicate, identify concerns or complaints, or understand any product defects or changes that might be needed. If you’re analyzing the data correctly, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve and solve problems before they become bigger. When you are proactive, especially when it comes to resolving issues, it sends the message that you care, which will help reinforce that customer connection.
The Agent Experience
Engagement starts with a brand’s ability to make personal connections with customers, and if your contact center agents aren’t excited and engaged, then customers won’t be as likely to share positive sentiments with friends, either on or offline. Take the time to learn what your agents want, measure and understand what agents are doing well, and celebrate success. Through measurement, you can identify best practices and roll them out to the entire department. If agents feel valued and are given the tools they need to succeed, then your front lines of communication will unlock a massive opportunity to foster customer engagement.
Share Those Insights
Contact center information should never stay within the walls of the department. Often, customers may share opinions about things like product design and marketing campaigns, and they may request new features or administrative changes. All of this feedback helps your team design a better product, service, and overall customer experience, as well as identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities. When customers see that their voices are being heard, they are more likely to refer your brand and become advocates.
Want to know more about getting the most out of your contact center? We’re here to help.
Publish Date: October 24, 2016 5:00 AM
Our annual Calabrio Customer Connect (C3) event has wrapped, and we are still feeling the buzz of excitement. For us, C3 is not only a time to share our vision for the future, but to hear the business challenges our customers are trying to solve and which best practices they are using to get the insights they need—and we think we succeeded in both.
Over the last week, we covered a lot of ground, met some wonderful people, heard from our incredible customers, partners, and industry experts about how Calabrio is helping them catalyze growth, and even hosted a Prince-themed bash that had everyone partying like it was 1999. We are so grateful for every person who planned and attended the event, because it was the collective ideas and effort that made C3 worthwhile.
Choosing only ten takeaways was challenging, but here they are:
- Customer experience has never been as important as it is today, and that will grow.
According to a CEI report, nearly 86 percent of customers will actually pay for a better experience, which is a huge indicator of where your priorities should lie. And don’t forget that 82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer experience. In order to remain competitive, your company must deliver an experience that meets or exceeds expectations—and that starts in the contact center. By aligning your brand promise with your marketing message, you can cultivate customer engagement that will ultimately lead to growth and future success.
- It’s not just about engaging your customers; it’s about engaging your team.
An engaged team of agents is more likely to build great relationships with your customers. Over 80% of customers say a happy employee improves the customer experience. As with any job, contact center agents need purpose and job satisfaction in order to stay engaged. By setting expectations, developing a path to success, providing the right tools, and publicly recognizing high performers, you can create the kind of environment where agents are motivated and engaged and, in turn, deliver the level of service your customers expect.
- Customer complaints aren’t bad if you handle them the right way.
While complaints are never fun for those who handle them, they truly are an opportunity to hear directly from customers about the issues they’re experiencing. Complaints are your company’s chance to turn those grievances into a positive experience. By training your team to listen to customers, validate their frustrations, offer a sincere apology, and fix the problem, you can build the kind of customer trust that results in loyal long-term relationships.
- The “throwaway” words tell you more than you think.
When looking at speech analytics, remember to look at the functional—or “throwaway” —words just as carefully as the contextual ones. The way a customer uses pronouns is a huge indicator of closeness to or distance from your brand. Even the use of the word “the” over “a” expresses a shared experience, versus a request. By reading between the perceived “important” words, you can gain even more insight into customer sentiment.
- Flexibility is key to the modern contact center, and the cloud will get you there.
Contact centers aren’t traditionally known for flexibility but, in today’s world, it’s important to deliver the flexibility that agents want. Whether your team can benefit from flexible schedules or working from home, the cloud is delivering the right tools and technology to accommodate a global workforce. These advancements are just the beginning and, as the cloud takes over, the modern contact center will be a hub of customer engagement that can increase topline growth for the entire company.
- Your contact center isn’t the only group of employees that is talking to your customers.
In the age of subject matter experts and specialization, customers are engaging with employees outside of the contact center more than ever. This means that contact center tools, like speech and text analytics, may apply to other departments, such as sales or marketing. When looking at the broader organization, take note of where customers are touching your brand. You just might find that there’s just as much benefit to capturing these conversations as there is to capturing conversations inside the contact center.
- When using analytics, formulate your questions and adjust to find your answers.
Building the right queries may seem overwhelming, but sometimes it’s just about asking the right questions. Do you want to see if there’s a correlation between agent tenure and first call resolution? You may not get the queries right the first time but, by evaluating and adjusting, you’ll find that the answers do lie in the data and that analytics are the backbone to any successful contact center.
- Omnichannel is here, so meet your customers where they are.
In the past phone, or voice, was the dominant channel for customer communication. Today, there are as many as nine frequently used channels that customers use to communicate with your brand, and you can expect even more options to pop up in the future. Whether it’s chat, social media, email, SMS or phone, don’t be afraid to branch out from traditional communication methods in order to reach your customers. However, when you do this, don’t forget to correlate data from all channels and measure their success. Otherwise, you could be leaving some channels behind in quality, negatively effecting customer experience. By staying up-to-date on preferred communication methods, customers will no longer see a contact center as a dial-in department, but as a team of accessible agents.
- When embarking on a new project, cultivate buy-in and stay true to your mission.
The cardinal rule of any contact center is that you must listen to what your customers are saying. However, battling the legacy mindset that opposes change can often get in the way of progress. Remember, when implementing a new project or process, stay true to your mission by collaborating with purpose and identifying leaders to have on your side. Getting this buy-in will pave the way to future success.
- The right tools are key to your contact center’s success.
You can’t have antiquated tools, training methods, and processes and expect to have the kind of modern contact center that catalyzes growth in the company. It’s important to look at both front-end systems and back-end systems and processes to make sure you are gleaning the insights you need to deliver the best the customer experience.
Did you attend C3 or have a story or takeaway to share? Tell us your top C3 moment by tweeting us @Calabrio using hashtag #C3.
Publish Date: October 17, 2016 5:00 AM
At this year’s Teleopti Nordic Forum we heard Kelly Tainton, a neuroscience and performance strategies specialist, speak on the performing brain and ‘why neuroscience beats management-babble.’
Kelly interestingly proclaimed that the biological and neurological processes that make a person, such as a contact center agent, skilled in their chosen profession aren’t easy to explain or learn, there isn’t a specific set of criteria that must be checked off. Instead, he commented that skill and high performance is a subconscious and innate ‘thing’ based on bio-human workings. As an example, we saw a Castrol clip demonstrating the superior football skill of Cristiano Ronaldo compared to a Division 1 player, yet this talent wasn’t something he could verbalize, he just did it. And similarly, in considering our own professional roles and relationships with colleagues and clients, it was difficult to assess exactly how we handle situations or what makes us good at dealing with people. We just do it.
However, in spite of the overall sense that performance is something that happens automatically in our brain, away from where management can really take effect, there seemed to be a few WFM pointers that one could walk away with.
Engagement cannot be forced, it comes with real interest and motivation.
The brain releases the chemical, dopamine (which helps people focus), because of events or individuals that really attracts a person’s attention and makes them concentrate. The relationship between raised dopamine levels and focus in a situation shows that engagement isn’t just a switch that can be flipped but rather a mode of being that needs to be properly considered. Telling someone to just engage and focus won’t help them to recruit motivational energy, they need to be stimulated.
Looking more closely, dopamine is often linked to reward-motivated behavior, so finding ways to spark natural motivation could also instigate better focus and engagement. A starting place for management efforts to raise motivation/dopamine levels could be gamification. Awarding badges, points and achievement levels gives agents the opportunity to show their achievements and compete by themselves or as part of a team. Yet this environment of gamification should be constantly adapting and innovating to avoid a dopamine vacuum where agents grow complacent or cynical of such systems. Perhaps, rather than only considering short term KPIs, gamification could also look to have a long-term timetable with greater rewards at the end. Equally, incentives could be brought in for pastoral achievements, such as parenting systems between experienced and newer agents. Thus, ‘older’ agents are being dually rewarded and engaged through tangible prizes and a sense of sharing, and ‘younger’ staff have the chance to answer the questions that they might be too nervous to ask more senior management.
Similarly, managers need to talk with agents and listen to them, so as to find out what naturally peaks their interest. From there, the tasks they enjoy the most will likely be the ones they focus on more and excel in, meaning good results both for the agents themselves and for the company in the quality of their work.
Avoid agent burnout
Kelly observed that the best, most sustainable performance comes with the smallest expenditure of energy for the highest gains. Yet by contrast, too high stress and focus levels without large enough gains can lead to employee burnout as people tire and lose attentional resources.
This burnout can manifest itself in a variety of ways – exhaustion, cynicism and/or inefficacy – and in the worst case scenario will lead to quitting. For contact centers, where attrition rates are often particularly high, this burnout situation definitely needs to be avoided.
Don’t lose your best agents because they are being worked the wrong way. Instead, it is necessary for managers and resource planners to look at the natural competencies of agents. Where do they get the best results? How long do they take in those tasks (as seen above, good results need to be matched by relatively low expenditure of time and effort)? What have they said themselves about certain tasks and channels? Some skills are second nature so find the areas where an agent is innately talented.
Overall, knowing your agents, their achievements and their competencies, will help prevent a possible burnout, or at least spot it in the early stages. All whilst improving the quality of their work.
Don’t shift agent focus too often
Having too many tasks and points of focus can spread an agent too thin, reducing their attentional resources and preventing them from doing any job properly. For instance, constantly splitting an agent’s time within different communication channels, always jumping between platforms, could lead them to underperform on each. Some agents might find themselves intellectually stimulated through having a diverse set of tasks each day, yet managers still need to be careful not to shift their focus too often, either triggering too greater stress levels or impacting the quality of their customer service in general.
The better someone becomes in a certain task or field, the less their focus shifts. In the same Castrol clip, Cristiano shifted his visual focus only 7 times whilst undergoing the performance test, whilst his less-skillful opponent hit 26 different points of focus in the same exercise. So perhaps it is better to add one new task at a time, letting an agent grasp one skill properly (with a refined focus) before introducing the next. At a later date they will get to move between tasks but on the solid foundation of knowing how to properly handle each one.
Importance of experience, experience, experience
Retaining experienced agents is more than just a matter of cost, keeping or losing them could affect your contact center’s overall customer service quality. Along with natural talent, high performance comes from experience, where a bank of memories and pattern-recognition systems have been built up.
Visualization is also key to performance, such as an agent truly seeing a person at the other end of the phone, along with the memories of previous calls to relate tone and tempo to, meaning they have a subconscious knowledge of how to respond. This image can be built up with time, and thus performance can improve with time. No matter how comprehensive the introduction talks are when you hire a new agent, experience and memories cannot be handed over in a training package. So, you really need to engage seasoned agents to retain them, through an inspiring environment, a healthy work-life balance, and motivating them with stimulating work and well-earned rewards.
Talent can take time
Kelly made the valid point that, like Usain Bolt who doesn’t have the best start in his races but has repeatedly won Olympic gold medals, everyone is unique and has their own path to success. So sometimes it is best to allow an agent a little time to make mistakes and learn. One can optimize the learning process, and thus optimize the agent, through letting them practice processing information and recognizing patterns as those techniques will naturally develop with time. Which is again why your more experienced agents will often be your most valuable ones, they have had the time to hone their focus and visualization abilities.
Imitation is the greatest form of education
Growing up we have been told time and time again that copying is a faux par, yet Kelly praised how imitation can help people to learn skills that are otherwise indescribable. Again, it seems advisable to look at the competency of your workforce, find your best performing agents and use them as examples for your less skilled agents. Have them go through example calls and sit next to each other, as simply being around someone who performs well will build memories for other agents, memories that they can use in future occasions.Of course, one has to accept that though people can learn through experience and imitation, some agents just won’t have that second nature skill. Yet at least be patient and allow some time and trialing to assess if this is the case or not, as a star agent could just need some experience and guidance to find their shine.
We here at Teleopti, with our technical and management-focused solutions, do not claim to be neuroscientists nor that our customers should be (unless that is your chosen industry). However, to avoid getting lost in so-called ‘management-babble,’ operations teams should try to understand agents on a closer, neurological level, so as to help their health, growth and enjoyment, and ensure contact centers reap the best results.
Publish Date: October 14, 2016 5:00 AM
This week, as we hosted customers and partners during our Calabrio Customer Connect (C3) conference here in Minneapolis, we took a deeper dive with many of our clients during breakout sessions as they discussed their experiences with Calabrio. One of the most popular topics was analytics, and we know that multichannel analytics are changing the way contact centers listen to the voice of the customer. When we hear success stories from our customers, it reinforces that analytics technology will only continue to grow. One such success story comes from customer Ryan Bradley, the Director of the Center of Excellence at Erie Insurance Group who, in his breakout session, put a Moneyball spin on analytics.
For those not familiar with Moneyball, Branch Rickey’s techniques have been tried and refined by numerous professional sports teams over the past seven decades. Rickey was the first person to implement statistical analysis in sports during his tenure with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he spurred what is now known as the “Moneyball” approach—the process of using statistical analysis to uncover talented players who did not perform well for traditional scouting tests. Moneyball is what ultimately led to the 1991 Oakland A’s 20 consecutive game winning streak. Interestingly enough, this type of analysis also blew the doors open for analytics to infiltrate many of the business decisions we make every day.
As many of us know, analytics are part of the lifeblood of the contact center and, similar to Moneyball, analytics can be leveraged to adjust strategies in order to set the contact center up for the best possible outcome: customer satisfaction and loyalty. But in a world of “infobesity,” it’s not a matter of gathering information, it’s of being able to whittle it down in order to translate it into meaningful insights. That is the real struggle that has business leaders agonizing over how to take advantage of the wealth of information living within the contact center. Erie Insurance Group had similar challenges, but here are some of the plays that Ryan and his team made to get in the analytics game.
Put in the time
When the project started, a team of four quality management employees spent around 300 hours defining the business needs and developing a framework. Although a labor-intensive process, it paid off when the team was able to quickly identify and implement changes. Most importantly, the QM team spent a lot of time listening to calls in order to build the most precise results possible. Had they not put in that on-the-ground effort, the project may have been misdirected.
Determine the metrics
Erie Insurance had questions, and they turned those questions into insights. For them it was about understanding the impact of a payment option change on customer loyalty. Whether their questions had been about determining why some calls lasted longer than others or understanding why specific customers called more than once, the important part was that Erie Insurance asked the right questions and developed the right processes around those questions. Their reward was that they got the answers they wanted.
Ensuring the success of any analytics program requires buy-in from both management and agents. Erie Insurance started small, easing all stakeholders into the new process by serving up starter metrics around First Call Resolution. While not terribly exciting, the team’s findings about the budget spent on call redundancy ultimately helped create the buy-in needed to ensure future project success.
Analytics gives us the ability to see statistical insights that allow us to make more informed decisions, and they most certainly aren’t going away.
Publish Date: October 13, 2016 5:00 AM
At Calabrio, we’re all about freedom. Our mission is to give contact centers around the world the freedom, flexibility and omnichannel tools they need to stay on top of what customers want and create a great experience—every time and across every channel. With this in mind, we built Calabrio ONE to deliver on that promise and, the best part is, we aren’t done! Today, during our annual customer conference here in Minneapolis, we announced that we’ve taken that freedom and flexibility to the next level because the Calabrio ONE platform now delivers one unified suite and seamless user experience whether you choose to deploy on-premises, as a hybrid model or in the cloud.
The Bridge to the Cloud
The cloud is on every company’s mind, and we’re sure it’s on yours. According to Gartner, $1 trillion in IT spending will be affected by the move to the cloud, and that’s just in the next five years. This shift is a huge indication of the power of the cloud; it’s obvious that it’s not slowing down. Brands are searching for accessibility, scalability and flexibility, and the cloud has proven to be an effective delivery model to achieve those goals. However, for many organizations, this shift won’t happen overnight, and this is exactly why we’ve created the Calabrio ONE platform with three deployment options. Now, whether you choose an on-premises, hybrid or cloud environment, your team will have access to the same robust technology that is creating more interactive, engaged contact centers all over the world.
Wherever, Whenever Customer Service for Multichannel Contact Centers
Customers expect to be able to connect with your company via phone, webchat, email and social media, and that level of accessibility means that contact centers must have that “always-on” mentality. This often involves managing multiple locations and a distributed workforce through which your agents have even greater flexibility in where and when they work. However, we know that this shift can’t be done at the expense of maintaining the same quality standards that made your company a success. You need a platform that is there for you the way you are for your customers. That means having an accessible, reliable WFO suite so your team can deliver the experience your customers want. Calabrio ONE provides the scalability and support structure to get you there, all while delivering the cost-effectiveness of the cloud.
The Importance of the Agent Experience
Hiring, keeping and engaging the best team of agents is a top priority for contact centers. As you probably know, cultivating a great agent experience is directly tied to delivering the best customer experience, and the right workforce optimization platform will give your agents the tools and flexibility that they need to be effective every single day. Now that many contact centers have multiple locations across time zones as well as agents who work both from the office and at home, accessibility and flexibility are more important than ever. We knew that in order to meet market demands and equip agents with the platform they need to serve customers, we needed to focus on giving agents what they want. With an enhanced agent evaluation process, more scheduling features and flexibility, and greater analytic insights, Calabrio ONE is more robust than ever, and has the scalability and flexibility of the cloud.
At Calabrio, we promise to keep innovating so we can give you even more options to deploy the best customer engagement platform that meets the needs of the modern contact center. Our team is here to help guide you through the implementation process so you can equip your contact center to build long-lasting, loyal relationships with customers. The new Calabrio ONE platform gives you the robust features, flexibility and freedom to launch–any way you choose.
Want to know more about Calabrio ONE and finding the best deployment option for your organization? Contact us today!
Publish Date: October 10, 2016 5:00 AM
Through the eyes of a typical contact centre, Ben Willmott at Teleopti takes a look at how empowering the latest Workforce Management technology can be
There is a motto that says, ‘take care of your employees – engage them, empower them, satisfy them and customer satisfaction will follow”. If you don’t look after your staff, you’ll lose your brightest stars to the competition resulting in a dent in customer satisfaction levels not to mention corporate finances.
Fortunately, help is at hand through automated Workforce Management (WFM). Let’s take a day in the life of Jessica and Joshua, our two agents, and Julie, their team leader, to understand how WFM helps maintain a healthy work/life balance and motivated staff.
- 0800 hours – Monday – drizzly Autumn day – frantic – Jessica, a busy, working Mum, is about to drop off her little girl Sophie to nursery and wants to double check what shift she is on. Using her smart phone, she logs into the secure, web-based portal for agents, and sees that she doesn’t start till 10 am. Great, she still has time to pick up a birthday card for Granny and miss the rush-hour traffic.
- 0900 hours – Joshua has received a surprise call from an American friend on his travels asking to meet up for a drink and early dinner later that day. Already at his desk, Joshua accesses the agent portal and requests time off.
- 0915 hours – Joshua receives a pop-up message from Julie, his team leader, who has denied his request. A new marketing campaign to kick-start sales ahead of the Christmas season has just started and enquiries are expected to peak later this afternoon. Can he meet his friend tomorrow?
- 1030 hours –It’s time for a quick cup of coffee after a busy start and the chance to see if Joshua can swap with another colleague tomorrow. Jessica is off but he knows she wouldn’t mind some extra money to buy the ‘Frozen’ doll Sophie has already put on her Santa list. He quickly pings a request to Jessica, who can manage the same skills as him, to trade shifts.
- 1100 hours – Jessica has arrived – Sophie safely at nursery and Granny’s birthday card in the post. The first thing she sees is Joshua’s note – can she come in tomorrow morning? Luckily, Jessica’s husband is working from home tomorrow so she is willing and able to cover for Joshua and earn a bit of extra money.
- 1130 hours – Joshua’s happy. Team leader Julie has seen the shift swap and confirmed it for Tuesday’s schedule. Joshua agrees to meet his long-lost friend for breakfast before the next leg of his travels.
- 1145 hours – Julie has noted Jessica’s agreement to cover for Joshua (relief!). Her extra hours are automatically sent to payroll to adjust her salary this month. Julie, a seasoned customer service professional, is always amazed at how much time is saved using automated technology. Before the days of Teleopti, it would have taken hours to catch two busy agents at the same time, email them to arrange cover, check multiple spreadsheets for various shift patterns and then reconcile them manually with a further call to HR at the end of it. How much easier life is now – real-time communications at the click of a mouse! Julie is already considering automating the process further by allowing the WFM system to make the decisions regarding shift trades, after all, it’s already checking that skills are matching before passing the requests through to her.
- 1300 hours – weather too horrible to go out for lunch, Joshua is feeling a little sorry for himself and needs some distraction. The lads want to go away to Ibiza and have already suggested a couple of dates. No time like the present, Joshua brings up MyTime, the agent portal, and sees he has enough holiday allowance early next year. No-one else is off that week and the agent portal tells him he has a good chance of having the leave accepted.
- 1301 hours – The WFM system is set to auto grant requests that meet certain rule-sets for the period that Joshua has requested, so it updates the schedule, sends a message to Joshua to let him know that his request has been granted and updates the HR system, all at once in real-time.
- 1345 hours – time for Jessica to get back to work after a healthy salad (thinking of the gorgeous black number she’s just bought to wear to her husband’s swanky company Christmas do). It reminds her to request time off to visit the hairdressers and enter her overtime availability in the run up to Christmas. Job done, requests made. While she is looking at the agent portal she checks out her performance dashboard and is pleased to see she is hitting all her targets, and close to catching Joshua at the top of the leaderboard.
- 1500 hours – Julie’s been busy sorting out next year’s training schedule so it’s taken her longer than usual to deal with Jessica’s request but there is still time before Jessica leaves to pick up Sophie from nursery. The answer is yes, Julie really appreciates Jessica’s forward-thinking approach and willingness to help out and Julie again thinks about changing the setup to add more automation for better agent experience. Note to self: would Jessica want to change to a more flexible work pattern next year? It would allow her to set her own preferences in advance and guarantee certain shifts and days off. What’s more, it would really help the contact centre hit the service level targets across the extended opening hours and multiple channels that their customers now expected as the norm, whilst cutting costs at the same time.
- 1630 hours – As the marketing department predicted, the contact centre has been inundated with customers wanting to take up the Christmas promotion. Julie runs the overtime scheduler for the next couple of weeks, planning in overtime against agents like Jessica who have put in their availability and is pleased to see that this allows her to meet increased demand that has been forecasted. Julie’s also been checking the performance of her team. She notices that young Joshua has been awarded with another badge to add to his collection and it is being promoted on the team’s online wallboard. He’s just answered the most calls today. Nothing like healthy competition in a fun environment to keep staff motivated!
- 1730 hours – Mission accomplished. Jessica can afford to buy Sophie the Frozen doll and has the salon appointment booked. Joshua is off to see his friend for breakfast tomorrow and is looking forward to some winter sun. Finally, Julie is happy: she has enough cover for emergencies and the busy season ahead, all the training is sewn up for another year and she has a few ideas about cutting costs and improving customer service. It’s been a good day all round.
If you would like to know more about things like, the shift of focus to employee engagement, polarization of services and empowerment, we are hosting a live webinar on October 12:
Employee Engagement – Securing Future Success
…and if you have a few minutes to spare why not have a look at what agents at Rentalcars.com have to say about the agent portal MyTime and Teleopti WFM in general.
Publish Date: October 7, 2016 5:00 AM
Your contact center is a superhero? You might be surprised—after all, contact centers are often:
- Under-valued by the larger organization
- Viewed purely as a cost center
- The first place budget is cut when the need arises
- And staffed by entry-level employees
Not exactly the standard definition for a superhero. But for customer-centric organizations, the term “contact center superhero” is an accurate—and multi-faceted—description. It’s up to you whether or not you endow your contact center with exceptional, superhuman abilities, so your company truly can become customer-centric.
Profile of a Contact Center Superhero
The heart of a customer-centric organization is the contact center. This is the frontline to your customers, the source and sustenance for the customer intelligence lifeblood critical to your success. Companies that are superheroes:
- Analyze and leverage the vital customer information cultivated by the contact center because they recognize its value to other departments and the business at large
- Foster an environment of empowerment, not an environment of fear, where agents are confident it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as they learn from it and move forward
- Defend their contact center budgets—they no longer discount their contact centers as just phone centers or a cost centers
- Constantly tend to and nourish their contact centers and its members
- Provide ongoing mentorship and emotional intelligence development opportunities
- Teach agents the art of giving and receiving feedback, including how to have a candid conversation with their boss
The Men and Women Behind the Scenes
It makes sense that superhero contact centers need to be staffed by exceptional people with distinct skill sets. These stellar agents:
- Possess a natural affinity for customer service
- Can quickly make logical, reasonable decisions
- Consistently deliver more than what’s asked or expected of them
- Yearn for more authority to make decisions and take risks in the spirit of what’s in the best interest of the customer
- Decipher intonations and subtle signals from customers that others tend to miss
- Easily recognize others who have the potential to be stellar agents
- Keep their humanity by using their energy in a good way
And, as you can imagine, it takes a special kind of leader to create and maintain a superhero contact center staffed by superhero agents. These leaders:
- Can communicate the business value and far-reaching, positive business impact of their contact center
- Fight for funding when needed
- Are on a continuous quest to make agents’ jobs easier
- Personally connect with the agents
- Are genuinely interested in the contact center workforce and how to optimize its operations
- Keep alive the original spark or energy within each agent that inspired the leader to hire them in the first place
- Contain the contact center environment while allowing agents to be themselves
- Know that how they make agents feel is exponentially more important than the job titles they hold
- Tap superstar agents to mentor newer agents
Publish Date: October 6, 2016 5:00 AM
As consumers, we all love the convenience of online self-service. We can buy products or find information online, 24/7, in our PJs, from our patio, if that’s what we want do. We’ve come to expect immediate gratification via electronic service delivery. Yet the more we progress technologically, the more personally disconnected we become. We’re more reclusive, more sedentary. So self-service is one of the ways we connect now. We want what we want, right now, and we don’t want to have to leave our homes to get it.
Pretty self-evident, huh? It’s easy to see how self-service benefits customers. And it’s equally easy to imagine how this kind of simple, online self-service drives higher engagement from your customers. The easier you are to do business with and the more satisfied your customers are, the more business your customers will want to do with you.
But the overall business and your individual contact center agents also play key roles in driving high customer engagement. And self-service benefits both of them in a big way.
Why Business Leaders Should Love Online Self-Service
The overriding benefit businesses receive from online self-service is a better bottom line. This is due to:
- Increased revenue—Customers who can self-serve online tend to have higher average order value (AOV) on purchases and spend more money with your business throughout their lifetime. They’re more likely to become repeat customers, more likely to become long-term customers and more likely to try other products you offer. That’s customer engagement at its finest.
- Lower customer acquisition and support costs—Customers who self-serve online reduce your company’s cost to acquire them and also your cost to support them. Since they rely less on brick-and-mortar storefronts and one-to-one support, your overhead decreases while their customer satisfaction grows.
- More strategic selling models—By letting customers self-serve online for simple orders, reorders and support, you can focus your expensive sales reps on more complex, higher-end selling situations that pay bigger dividends for their time.
Why Contact Center Agents Should Love—Not Fear—Online Self-Service
The initial response from any contact center agent when the topic of online self-service first comes up is usually, “What does that mean for my job? Am I still needed?” But agents definitely play a critical customer engagement role in the new self-service world. And self-service benefits them in many ways.
- They become happier and more informed—An agent’s job is not an easy one—in fact, it’s the hardest one in the contact center. Taking calls and resolving complaints day in and day out can be draining. It can be physically, psychologically and emotionally demanding. But self-service can help. By allowing customers to self-serve online, the number of inquiries agents are expected to handle drops. With more time available for product training and skills development, agents experience higher morale, less burnout and decreased turnover.
- They become more empowered—When your customers do need to connect with a contact center agent, they want that agent to give them solutions, not just information. In a self-service world, businesses have the latitude to foster more empowered agents who better tend to customers. Agents now have more time available to serve each customer, and they want to serve them well. By empowering agents with more authority and autonomy, they can more quickly, easily remedy customer issues and resolve customer complaints.
- They’re the positive human connection—When customers do desire personal contact with your company, they want that connection to be easy, fast and friendly. Your agents represent your company; they’re part of your brand. They deliver an experience to every customer with whom they interact, and you want it to be a positive one. With self-service, your agents can clear their queues, spending more time on activities that deliver higher value to customers, while customers themselves happily self-serve for basic needs or information.
It’s important you help contact center agents understand their new relevance. Self-service might change their role in customer engagement, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate it.
Publish Date: October 5, 2016 5:00 AM
Your contact center agents are your company’s face to the outside world. They’re your frontline to your customers, the ones you trust to maintain those critical buyer relationships.
But their jobs aren’t easy ones. And those roles are vulnerable to high turnover. It takes a special mindset to field complaints and calls, day after day. Without the right support, jobs like theirs can be physically, psychologically and emotionally draining. You don’t want that. You want your agents to feel energized. You want the interactions they have with your customers to be positive ones. And you want those agents to be your longtime employees.
It’s not as hard as you might think to keep your contact center agents happy, motivated and committed. Here are the top five tips based on our experience helping customers with their workforce engagement efforts.
Entrust agents with more autonomy and authority.
If you’re truly committed to a superb customer experience, you want your frontline agents empowered to deliver solutions—not just answers—on behalf of your company. The quicker your customers receive helpful, definitive information or decisions, the happier they will be. And the less runaround an agent has to go through to provide this information, the happier the agent will be. But this shift takes trust and flexibility, on both sides—here are a few ways to shift gracefully.
- Train your agents appropriately, and continuously.
- Have faith—with proper training you provide—agents will make responsible, reasonable decisions on their own.
- Make sure agents know it’s okay for them to make occasional mistakes, so they trust themselves and you.
Eliminate obstacles from their daily tasks.
We all know how mind-numbing and frustrating it can be to face the same problem time and again, with no end in sight. Or to stumble through an overly-complex process. Contact center agents are no different. Tasked with an already difficult job, agents quickly can become demoralized and unmotivated when asked to follow workflows that don’t make sense to them. So help them out.
- Find and remove obstacles that over-complicate their processes.
- Simplify workflows.
- Stop doing what’s no longer necessary, relevant or meaningful.
- Better yet—involve agents in your streamlining project, and take their suggestions to heart.
Keep rewards simple and frequent.
The most appreciated or memorable rewards are rarely the most expensive ones. Simple, creative, lower-cost rewards delivered more frequently often generate better results. So do something extraordinary but easy—create fun contests to recognize superstar agents. A few ideas:
- Have a middle manager cover the phone while the agent takes a coffee break.
- Award a monthly, reserved parking spot.
- Publicly recognize agents for above-and-beyond work.
- Reward superstars with additional time off or small, cash spiffs.
- Come up with your own crazy, creative ideas to find out what inspires your team.
Advance agents’ careers.
Not all contact center agents have the same career aspirations. And—since most contact center agent roles are entry-level—agents typically welcome advice and mentoring on how to advance their career from managers or more senior peers.
- Find out where they want to be a year or two from now, and work with them to map a path to get there.
- Learn what their professional interests are, then help them understand how to apply those interests to their current or desired role.
- Help them develop not only their practical workplace skillsets but also their emotional intelligence, aka “soft skills”—communication, assertiveness, conflict resolution, etc.
- Build their aspirations—is there something they want to do but doubt their ability for some reason? Help them reach beyond what they think are their limitations. Develop a plan to help them overcome any shortfalls they believe they have.
(Bonus: while you’re making agents more productive—and more marketable—you’re also grooming your next level of senior contact center employees.)
Connect with them on a personal level.
Everyone craves connection. It’s a basic human need. Frontline employees tend to feel undervalued, so they in particular need connection.
- Find out the most interesting thing about each person you manage.
- Find out what motivates them.
- Then make those connections in conversations with them. Build that bridge.
Publish Date: October 3, 2016 5:00 AM
September has that “back to school” feeling and Ben Willmott of Teleopti recommends three simple workforce management strategies to attract the brightest young talent and keep ahead of the competition.
According to current estimates more than 1.1 million people are employed in UK contact centers and a substantial number are from the younger generation. In just five years’ time, today’s youth will form 50% of the global workforce. What’s more, their career expectations and technical know-how will shape the workplaces of the future, putting new pressures on companies wishing to attract the best young talent to drive business growth and keep one step ahead of the competition.
So what is the secret to becoming the employer of choice for the younger generation and how do you prevent them from straying to the competition? Don’t delay in taking the first step, prepare now. Start by understanding the psychology of today’s up and coming customer service professional. What really makes them tick?
In a nutshell, young people are, in the words of DMG Consulting, “a highly social generation that puts work/life balance ahead of their careers.” They work hard and they play hard. At the same time, they need to be constantly acknowledged, rewarded and engaged in the workplace. They desire – and expect – to be involved in everything from the company mission to the contact centre team and the customers they serve, and they want to make a difference right away.
The next step is to transform your contact centre environment, adapting it to bring out the very best in budding young customer service professionals. Combining a flexible framework with the latest Workforce Management (WFM) technology is the way to go. Here are three strategies to get you started:
- Support flexible working through self-service – people take great pride in what they do but young talent doesn’t function well in a rigid, authoritarian environment. They need to know the rules and what is expected of them but, beyond that, give them a little freedom. The younger generation loves to self-serve so take advantage of self-service technology to add flexibility whilst ensuring contact centre and customer service objectives are met.Recent innovations in self-service capabilities allow agents to access their schedules through web-based portals such as MyTime portal in Teleopti WFM. There, agents trade shifts, pick up unexpected shifts just freed up, voice their preferences for overtime and request time off. Having a say in schedule preferences gives them a sense of empowerment and offers them a better work-life balance.
- Engage and empower – make the most of mobility – take a look around you – when do you ever see a young person without some sort of mobile device? Mobility is here to stay. Be prepared for youthful employees using multiple apps, working from more than one device and working in various locations. Rather than fight it, ensure you exploit mobility to help your young agents flourish!
- Introduce gamification – the new generation’s need for constant feedback has driven the development of the gamification sector. The latest WFM technology incorporates gamification features that motivate employees, encourage healthy competition and reward individual and team performance in a fun environment. Use gamification to:
- create an online social community that increases collaboration, provides access to knowledge bases, gives agents a forum to share learning and top tips, ask their more mature colleagues for advice and communicate major achievements to give that all-round feel-good factor young people crave
- utilise dashboards to provide a real-time snapshot of employee and team performance against specific contact centre KPIs or customer SLAs
- make star employees shine! Recognise exceptional performance by awarding points and badges for measurable metrics such as average handling times and first contact resolution successes.
Understand what makes the customer service professionals of tomorrow tick. Follow these three simple steps and your contact centre will be rewarded with a workforce that will want to stay with you, confident they have a well thought-out career path and the ability to make a real difference.
Publish Date: September 16, 2016 5:00 AM
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