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For years, businesses looking to boost their contact center’s productivity and profitability have concentrated their efforts on making agents faster, more efficient and more effective. These results are mostly driven by performance metrics and workforce optimization (WFO) tools as well as processes that bombard agents with a never-ending stream of numbers and targets to hit. It’s understandable that agents feel disengaged in an environment where carrot-and-stick methods are favored over a more holistic approach that nurtures and motivates its employees to be the very best they can at their assigned roles. Fortunately, the industry has taken notice and quickly shifted toward more agile and employee-focused solutions, such as workforce engagement management (WEM).
Where workforce optimization (WFO) focused primarily on “hitting the numbers,” workforce engagement management addresses an essential reality in the customer contact space — the impact of the employee experience on the customer experience is undeniable. With this truth in mind, WEM solutions look to improve employee engagement by tackling processes such as recruitment, performance evaluation, training, time management, agent assistance and recognition, and more.
Unveiling the Workforce Engagement Management Journey
As a natural evolution of WFO, WEM integrates technology and innovation to provide employees a better experience through tools that include cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and process automation. While some vendors market WEM as a standalone employee engagement solution, companies actually prefer an end-to-end contact center suite that includes workforce engagement management.
To gauge the impact and rising trend of WEM products in contact centers, Frost & Sullivan recently surveyed over 1,000 decision makers from all over the world to determine their key challenges and benefits. The study delved into specific sectors including financial services, healthcare, telecommunications and retail. It examined technology demands and observed planned purchasing trends in the contact center space.
The survey had five key takeaways.
As companies face the ongoing race against time to process interactions without sacrificing quality, it’s no longer enough to match headcount to a number of interactions. Rather, businesses realize the need to match skills and knowledge to a problem to determine the optimal solution that will have a positive effect on customer experience. This explains why companies are investing in solutions that enable them to manage their resources and monitor performance, as well as leverage tools to boost knowledge and learning.
“Globally, 55% of organizations currently employ contact center solutions that enable workforce management,” states Frost & Sullivan. “56% employ performance management tools and 47% have adopted knowledge and learning management systems.”
Technology isn’t the only thing that has changed in the last two decades. As new generations have poured into the workforce, demands from these new employees have changed the way the contact center works — or should work — to provide more opportunities for self-governance, collaboration and recognition. Added to the challenging nature of contact center work itself, respondents have had to reexamine their work priorities to effectively address issues like lack of employee recognition (50%), lack of tools and infrastructure to enable employees to provide good customer experience (48%), and under-utilization of employee skills (48%).
To alleviate this situation, workforce engagement management suites have expanded to include agent skills, digital channels, agent empowerment and others into scheduling and forecasting, as well as provide quality management (QM), coaching and analytics to manage employee performance. Another tool that has gained traction is gamification. This allows organizations to reward their agents for meeting or exceeding their goals, effectively motivating employees to strive for achievement, observe compliance and seek out training. This explains why, as the study found, 70% of organizations have already adopted WEM tools — 36% are already full adopters.
If you look at a customer’s journey now, it’ll often include some elements or self-service, such as chatbots. These have not only allowed companies to give their customers the opportunity to drive their own journeys through enhanced self-service, but they’ve given employees a considerable boost with technologies that fall under the AI umbrella.
The Frost & Sullivan study found that half of organizations have already automated quality management, forecasting and scheduling, agent assistance, and eLearning, with positive results. Automated QM, for instance, enables organizations to gain full visibility over their calls, rather than a few random samples. Then they can accurately score, reduce calls, save time and maintain quality levels. Likewise, agent assistance provides a helpful tool by giving agents next-best actions, relevant information and the confidence to focus their attention on the customer — rather than worry about the technology.
It’s all about the cloud. While 30% of study respondents said they deployed WFO products on-premises, a whopping 60% already prefer the cloud — either through a hybrid approach (26%) or fully cloud (34%). And this trend only seems to be rising, with 60% of companies planning to have a WFO cloud deployment by the end of 2020. This makes sense: Cloud-based solutions give contact centers fast implementations, greater business agility, scalability and lower TCO.
The workforce engagement management market offers a large variety of interesting solutions that blend diverse alternatives for forecasting and scheduling and address an agent’s well-being through Voice of the Employee (VoE) capabilities and agent-assistance tools.
According to the Frost & Sullivan report, the top five capabilities companies are looking for in their solutions are: performance management (50%), workforce management (48%), learning management systems (43%), knowledge management systems (42%) and employee survey tools (40%). However, rather than tackle these needs through a best-of-breed approach, the survey found three out of five organizations prefer an integrated suite from one vendor.
It’s More Than Service Levels and Targets
When it comes to building an effective workforce, just hitting service levels and targets is no longer going to cut it. By incorporating elements that motivate and empower employees to do their job more effectively, companies gain a more engaged workforce and consequently happier customers and greater profits.
Eighty-nine percent of organizations consider improving their contact center workforce engagement will significantly improve the quality of the customer service they provide, according to the Frost & Sullivan study. Not only that, it keeps agent turnover down and improves operational performance — and that makes it a critical focal point in customer contact today.
Read the full Frost & Sullivan report on how to engage your team for the best customer experience here.
And read more to find out why Gartner recently named Genesys as a Visionary in Workforce Engagement Management.
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