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With 2020 behind us, 2021 provides a few glimpses of hope. During the global pandemic, companies have had to refocus, making sure their employees have what they need to do their jobs — and feel taken care of, safe and healthy while doing so. Companies that pivoted successfully during the pandemic are thriving. And they’ll likely continue to do so if they follow the employee engagement lessons they’ve learned throughout the year.
Here are some of the contact center employee and workforce engagement trends you’ll see in 2021.
1. Work-From-Home 24/7
The most dramatic impact of COVID-19 has been the move from contact center/office-based work to remote work and working from home. Now, companies see the benefits of providing flexibility in where — and when — employees work. Adjusting around family schedules, home schooling and lockdowns requires the flexibility to deal with interruptions. Employees might need to postpone the start of their workday, take a break or just take the day off entirely. After allowing for more flexibility for when and where work is performed, many companies are abandoning the office altogether.
2. Every Interaction Is a Learning Experience
With the cost of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered services like voice transcription and sentiment analysis dropping significantly, companies will deploy these technologies in new ways. Contact center quality management will move away from the management piece and more toward the quality component. Interactions will become less about humans behaving like robots and following scripts. They’ll be more about how well a call moved the needle on the customers’ perception of your company as it relates to quality of service. Every interaction, through technologies like topic spotting, becomes a vehicle to learn, with insights presented back to agents.
3. Assistance at Hand
Another 2021 trend we’ll see is a significant boost in how companies deploy virtual assistants to enhance agent knowledge. That could mean automatically surfacing information during an interaction, providing a quick lookup of information from a knowledge base or kicking off robotic process automation through natural language interaction. Virtual assistants will start to make a dent in pre- and post-call work, average handle times and FCR.
4. Creating an Environment of Empathy
With the pandemic still in full force and many people struggling, the movement to show empathy toward others will continue to grow. Everyone understands that times are tough; we’re all in this together. We’ll see more agents delivering empathy to customers — and supervisors delivering empathy to agents and reports. Contact center work will be perceived as people helping people, not simply customer support or sales or another singular role. To foster empathy, supervisors should check in with employees after high-stress calls to ensure they have the strength to continue with conversations.
5. Coach, Not Critic
The role of supervisor will continue to shift from being someone who enforces compliance to someone who’s a coach. Whether or not rules were followed will be more systemized and discussions will focus on the approach of the call, the agent’s demeanor and other soft skills. This will lead to better employee performance and an increased sense of belonging.
6. Bringing Up the Best
Matchmaking isn’t reserved only for dating; it’ll be used to match customers with the right employees. This year, we’ll see technologies emerge that will improve customer and employee satisfaction and will match calls with those who are most capable to handle them. When employees have the tools to do their best work (and are sent customers that allow them to demonstrate this), they end the workday more satisfied.
7. New Personal Bests
While employees will work on teams (albeit virtual ones), they’ll also compete against themselves. More visually and lively gamification tools will clearly relay employees’ goals and how they can reach — and even exceed — their personal performance records. Gamification tools will challenge employees to reach just a bit further to regularly improve their performance.
Rebound in 2021
By shedding some of the aspects of work that were less conducive to growth, giving employees a feeling of belonging and delivering empathy to customers, companies can turn 2021 into a rebound year that will propel them forward. At the heart of this improvement is employee engagement technologies that provide the information needed to empower employees to succeed.
For more inspiration about how to engage your team to deliver the best in customer experience, download the latest Frost and Sullivan white paper.
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