Much has been said about how collaboration is critical for business success, as well as how a collaborative work culture drives companies forward. That might sound well and good, but how does this apply to a cloud-based contact center, where workers are distributed and agents and supervisors rarely, if ever, share the same location?

This article explores what a collaborative culture is in the context of a contact center, why it matters, and how you can build one.

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What is a collaborative work culture?

There may have been a time when the only way to get ahead at work was to compete with your coworkers, but there has been a shift in the way people think about working; the emphasis is now on working together to achieve goals, rather than working separately to get ahead.

A collaborative work culture is one that prizes mutual respect, the sharing of ideas, and the distribution of responsibilities between coworkers. Instead of creating data silos, so only one employee or one team can use information to succeed, information is shared across teams so that employees anywhere in the organization can make the right decisions to drive the company forward.

Collaborative cultures and contact centers

Admittedly, many contact centers aren’t a great example of collaborative work cultures. In fact, for some contact centers, there are processes in place that actually hinder collaboration. As a result:

  • It takes too long to share information between agents
  • It’s too difficult or even impossible to access experts, making it nearly impossible to achieve first contact resolution
  • Employees have low job satisfaction rates, leading to high turnover

That situation is slowly beginning to change, however. There are now cloud contact center solutions which enable greater collaboration between agents, managers, and internal experts.

What are the benefits of a collaborative culture in a contact center?

Why is it worth investing in creating a collaborative culture within a contact center? There are a number of benefits for employees as well as the company and their customers:

  • Higher employee performance – Research from Babson College shows that collaborative work is five times more likely to result in higher performance.
  • Attracting talent – Millennials, the largest demographic in the workforce, are attracted to collaborative work cultures, according to PwC research.
  • Greater profitability – In a survey from Raconteur, 56% of respondents said initiatives to increase collaboration were the top factor in boosting revenue.

What does collaboration look like in a contact center?

Collaboration within a contact center will look different than in other workplaces, because of what contact center agents do.

The foundation of a collaborative culture at a contact center is access to the information agents need to get their jobs done and satisfy customers’ needs. That might mean that they’ll be able to reach out to someone on the product team if a customer has a product-related question. Maybe the question involves a contract, and the agent can’t answer that question without consulting with someone from the legal department.

 

Call center representative.

Sometimes, reaching out to an internal expert won’t get the problem solved the first time – the problem might be more complex and may require more than one person. Collaboration might also mean that the agent shares documents with the internal expert(s) or schedules a time for the customer to speak directly with the right people in the company.

Spotlight on the Supervisor

Collaboration with cloud contact center software

What if you have a cloud contact center that allows agents to work remotely? How then do you ensure that collaboration takes place?

Actually, cloud contact center solutions aren’t a barrier to collaboration. They can even include tools that boost collaboration. There are two keys to building a collaborative culture for your contact center:

  • People
  • Technology

People

If people are used to working in a culture that isn’t collaborative, you can’t expect them to suddenly change their behavior on a dime. Building a new culture is an intentional act that requires a strategy.

What steps do you have to take to enable greater collaboration? Are there specific processes and training you need to offer to make this happen? Where are you falling short, and how can you do better? The answer to these questions can lead you down the path to a more collaborative contact center culture.

Technology 

By “technology,” we’re referring to contact center software. The right contact center solution can increase collaboration, even if it’s in the cloud. How is that possible?

Contact center solutions that enhance collaboration have the following features:

  • The ability for agents to connect to internal experts
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Leveraging online documents
  • The ability for agents to collaborate with customers
  • The ability for remote teams to work together

Connect to internal experts 

Traditional call center processes make it almost impossible to connect to an internal expert in real time. They don’t integrate with unified communications solutions, which enable employees to collaborate across teams; rather, on-premises call centers create silos, in which agents can only reach others within their own department.

 Contact center software combined with unified communications enables:

  • Better collaboration, because agents can access a full corporate directory and connect to their colleagues in other departments
  • Better customer service, because agents have more resources to answer customer queries and solve their problems

Leveraging online documents 

Customers use Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box to share information between themselves. Agents should be able to do the same. By leveraging online documents, agents can share information internally and externally for greater collaboration.

Collaborate with customers 

Even if a team is remote, collaboration can still take place. Cloud contact center software helps remote teams work together through chat, video conference, or voice.

For example, a new agent could send a chat to his more experienced coworker to get insight on how to handle a situation, without interrupting his conversation with a customer. A supervisor can start a video chat with her agents to check in, or an entire team can hold a remote morning standup. They could even hold an audio conference call, if that’s how they best collaborate.

Remote teams can work together 

Even if a team is remote, collaboration can still take place. Cloud contact center software helps remote teams work together through chat, video conference, or voice.

For example, a new agent could send a chat to his more experienced coworker to get insight on how to handle a situation without interrupting his conversation with a customer. A supervisor can start a video chat with her agents to check in, or an entire team can hold a remote morning standup. They could even hold an audio conference call if that’s how they best collaborate.