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New customers, new agents, new challenges: Contact center 2.0

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Many contact centers are now distributed with most agents working remote — while dealing with an 800% year-over-year increase in calls. This new work-from-home model brings new challenges as well as the opportunity to make customer service a significant differentiator for your organization.

In a recent discussion on this topic, we spoke with experts Brian Cantor, Principal Analyst of Customer Management Practice at CCW Digital; John Monreal, Sr. Director of Contact Center & Purchasing at ENT & Allergy; Max Ball Director of Product Marketing at RingCentral Contact Center; and host Matt Wujciak, Analyst and Writer at CCW Digital.

Discover how RingCentral customers were able to move their agents home in as quickly as 48 hours, with no adverse impact on their customer experience. In this session, you will learn:

  • Practical considerations as work-from-home become permanent
  • Tactics for operationalizing around bots and digital channels
  • The importance of redefining your agents’ roles
  • Best practices for keeping your team connected

Get a sneak peek at this conversation below and be sure to check out the full discussion here.

There are many challenges that companies had to overcome in the quick shift to working from home. Since most agents didn’t have a choice about working remotely, companies were able to figure things out on-the-go. To continue having remote success and to encourage agents to move back to the office, you now have to address these issues without adding costs.

“If we want to continue empowering our agents and achieving productivity,” Cantor said, “we need to make sure we’re having the right conversations and that we’re connecting with our teams at the right times.”

In a remote contact center, the interactions you facilitate are essential for good morale. Offering incentives through gamification can keep agents engaged and help them feel part of the team.

“Employees want to come to work and they want to enjoy their job,” Monreal said. “And it’s not the gift that they win or the monetary value of the gift they win, it’s the recognition too.”

Along with using technology to meet agent needs, companies also need to rely on their tools to improve customer experiences. Automation and AI offer invaluable benefits, but customers are often slow to embrace them. The key is customer education, he said and using the five Cs of building comfort: cognizance, clarity, credibility, conversation, and concession.

“If you put all those together, you’re going to be able to use self-service more strategically in your journey,” Cantor said. “Most importantly, customers will feel like they’re choosing these channels rather than being forced into them.”

Technology can also provide insights into your customers, especially for remote contact centers. You can’t walk the floor to monitor interactions audibly, but you can use your analytics to understand how well you’re reaching your customers.

“A lot of our decision-making now is driven purely by numbers,” Cantor said, “and if you don’t have the right numbers in front of you, you can’t make the right decisions and you can’t successfully identify quality.”

This includes decisions about hiring, Ball said. Rather than making hires based on location, companies are now looking for those with the knowledge and empathy to provide great experiences for their customers, as well as the ability to work well from home.

“Being passionate is one thing, but staying focused while remote is also important,” Monreal said.

As companies improve their new processes and tools in this new age of the contact center, it’s also important to remember the human side of this work. Using regular communication, gamification programs, and hangouts can improve the workplace as long as they are an option, not a requirement, for your employees.

“The mindset has to be, ‘We’re doing this to give you a voice and give you a chance to add more value to your life and to your work, not just because we don’t trust you to work independently and we think we need to see you on camera,’” Cantor said. “That slight mindset shift goes a long way into turning work from home from a flexible source of comfort for agents into an obligation. And if socializing and connection feel like an obligation, you’re totally missing the point.”

Learn more about creating a thriving 2.0 contact center by watching the full session here.

Originally published Jan 28, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022

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