Your agents are your contact centre’s biggest asset. So how do you recruit and retain the best people? It’s a tough market right now. Last year, the 2022 Contact Centre Challenges and Priority Study found that 41% of respondents said their biggest challenge was hiring and recruiting, while 19% said high attrition rates. These key challenges are set to endure, as contact centre businesses begin to recognise that happier staff equate to happier customers.
It’s no longer enough to increase wages or offer perks or incentives like flexible working. To set yourself apart from other contact centres, you need to make work more engaging and purposeful. In short, you need to become more agent-centric.
Processes that empower agents
Are your contact centre processes empowering your agents, or disempowering them? When employees are given more meaningful work, they will be more engaged.
Take self-service tools. They’ve become popular in contact centres because they can reduce costs, contribute to customer satisfaction, and offer a consistent customer experience. However, sometimes the technologies fail to meet expectations, and sometimes agents aren’t equipped to handle the more complex work that comes through as a result.
To overcome these obstacles, agent-centric leaders need to:
1. Thoughtfully design and continuously evaluate the effectiveness of self-service. You can do this by using a customer access strategy, which helps you consider the different variables and adapt your plan over time.
2. As automation increases, engage agents in evaluating, planning and evolving their new roles. You could design a ‘voice of the agent’ programme or similar, so that staff can share the daily problems they have and their ideas on how to resolve these.
When you do both things, your processes can empower your agents to make a greater impact, rather than stifle them. You might also discover valuable insights that enable the business to grow and improve.
Technology that supports agent-centricity
Most contact centres still have siloed technology solutions that add complexity and limit the business’ ability to collect and act on data. However, if you invest in technology that makes work easier and less repetitive, this improves both EX (employee experience) and CX (customer experience). Focus on three key areas:
1. Go digital first – Use digital, self-service capabilities to eliminate transactional tasks from the agent’s workload and make life easier for the customer.
2. Use AI to break boredom and assist agents – It can eliminate your agents’ repetitive and low-value tasks, like copying data across systems. Good AI can also give recommendations and guidance to agents, saving them time and resulting in faster resolutions.
3. Provide one environment and one view of the customer – Instead of relying on multiple, disconnected solutions, consolidate all these into a single, integrated environment. Your agents’ productivity and satisfaction levels will increase because they’ll be able to monitor all channels and see a customer’s full contact history in one place. They’ll also only have one system to learn.
Start becoming an agent-centric leader
So, are you ready to make the change? Follow this three-step process to get started today:
1. Work out which processes need to change – Start by asking your agents. Pose open questions like, ‘What’s the number one thing that prevents you from providing a great customer experience?’ and ‘What should our contact centre start and stop doing?’
2. Start changing them – Come up with a plan that takes forward your employees’ ideas and empowers them to do their best work.
3. Choose technology that helps rather than hinders – If you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 and now know it’s your tools that are holding you back, then start to transform your technology. Look for solutions that genuinely help your agents, and consolidate multiple solutions into one integrated environment.
Becoming more agent-centric always pays off, through increased employee engagement and reduced attrition rates. This of course leads to a better experience for your customers too. To learn more about this subject, download our 2022 Guide to Leading an Agent-Centric Contact Centre, created with Metric Sherpa.
Originally published Feb 20, 2023