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Guest Blog by Maarten Copini, Senior Principal Practice Solutions Specialist CX and Intelligent Business for Europe at NTT Germany Holdings GmbH.
One effect COVID-19 had on the contact center is the shift to working from home. And that change is likely here to stay.
Surveys with contact center leaders tell us that initial challenges of the work-from-home adjustment — mainly IT and network-related problems — have been solved. Organizations that deployed Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions managed to quickly get their contact center agents up and running at home. But now that many organizations have large portions of their call center employees working from home, contact center leaders face new challenges — keeping those employees engaged and making certain they deliver the best customer experience.
According to contact center managers we’ve interviewed, agent productivity wasn’t affected in the first months of working from home. But now we’re seeing the long-term effects of this new reality — and the challenges it brings.
Engagement: Aristotle the Greek philosopher said, “Man is by nature a social animal.” This is even more true for contact center agents. In interviews conducted with contact center employees, the main things they miss while working from home are interactions with coworkers and being able to stay connected with their teams and companies.
Management: Contact center managers and team leaders face the other side of this challenge: remaining connected with remote agents and keeping them engaged while successfully managing productivity as well as customer and employee satisfaction.
Tools: To deliver the best customer service, employees need the right tools and information. Motivated, well-equipped, trained, and informed employees positively affect productivity and customer satisfaction. But it’s tricky to organize all of these things when the majority of your agents are working from home.
Learn the seven ways to improve contact center employee engagement and performance for at-home workers.
Gamification is gaining renewed interest for keeping agents motivated and in touch with their own performance — as well as their teams. Adding some friendly competition and the chance to earn rewards keeps employees motivated and engaged. And this is especially the case for millennials, who grew up with video games and will soon make up the vast majority of your workforce. A best practice is to integrate gamification with your contact center tools so your goals link in real-time to your contact center KPI performance.
Raising their hands at home won’t get call center agents answers to complex customer questions. Contact centers are implementing new ways to organize agent support with chat, messaging or chatbots as well as artificial intelligence (AI)-infused knowledge management solutions.
Asking the person sitting next to you at the kitchen table a question about a customer query likely won’t get you the answer you need. A good knowledge management tool offers home workers quick access to the right answers to customers’ questions. Industry leaders integrate speech analytics and AI into tools to recognize the customer’s question or intent. Handing these instances over to the AI-infused knowledge base automatically finds the right answer to the customer’s question — and frees up the agent to answer other questions.
With classroom training and face-to-face coaching inaccessible, organizations need digital alternatives. By leveraging data from automated quality management, speech analytics, and gamification, organizations can give agents just-in-time eLearning and coaching with bull’s eye precision based on performance statistics.
Call center managers, supervisors, and agents already used real-time and intraday KPI dashboards to make the right decisions. Now, contact centers are giving agents working from home access to performance dashboards with omnichannel queue-based information and team statistics as well as their individual performance. You can even augment these dashboards with gamification elements to further engage and motivate employees in real-time.
Work-life balance is important, especially with employees working from home. Keeping employees productive, motivated, and healthy requires intelligent planning and scheduling. Best practices involve shift trading and bidding as well as agent preference scheduling.
Recording call and screen interactions for coaching and compliance is even more important in the work-from-home world. By using a combination of AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) for speech and text analytics, organizations can automate large portions of the work involved in compliance control and scoring interactions. This gives coaches and agents more time to focus on improving the customer experience.
To implement these best practices, you need a leading workforce engagement management solution that combines data from your contact center routing platform as well as quality management and workforce management tools.
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