Almost two months of 2021 has gone by, and we still find ourselves in a global pandemic, which does not seem to let completely go any time soon. The way we act among other people and do business has forever changed.
We are starting to form a clear picture of how contact and call centers should do business and build their organization and strategy in 2021. I have looked at and assessed the things contact and call center should stop doing in 2021.
By Torbjörn Hörberg, Contact & Call Center Expert and Consultant
Onboarding is often one of the costliest aspects in a contact center. The time coworkers and supervisors spend on onboarding and helping a new agent find his/her feet in the business and organization can in many cases take upwards to 6 months, before a new agent is fully self-driven.
Do not be wasting that much time in onboarding a new agent face to face. According to Jobindex salary calculator a customer support agent in Denmark makes in average 28.394 kr. (€3.817,92) á month. That is a whole lot of money going into onboarding a fellow agent, when most of it can be avoided. I reckon that onboarding is necessary and crucial to run a successful contact or call center, but there are other ways of onboarding a new agent.
I am not saying that you should take away the human touch in the onboarding process completely, but combine it with automation like Robotic Desktop Automation, which is also often referred to as a virtual agent assistant. This RDA robot can help new employees getting settled in with the ways of doing business, completing processes, and helping the customers. Then the human touch of the co-workers and supervisors come in to onboard the new agent when it comes to the organization.
Automation can be set up in a way that allows the new agent to onboard in a combination between physical one-to-one onboarding and by him or herself. By using RDA to onboard agents, you can speed up the process from classroom to actual working, while having the agents who otherwise would be onboarding the new agent also working and creating a good experience for the customers.
Even before the pandemic, this would have been on the list. People are getting more and more used to and are expecting to have flexibility in where they do their job. Of course, the pandemic has given this a rather big nudge, where it is now also necessary being able to do your contact or call center job, not just from home, but from anywhere. This is a whole new way of thinking, but a very real thing in modern business. In fact, it has its own name, WFA – Work From Anywhere.
When you give your agents the possibility to work from home or work from anywhere, not only do you create a healthier and more flexible work environment for you agents, but you also set your business up for greater agility and readiness for change in future crisis situations like another global pandemic.
People like to feel valued, needed, and challenged. When you take away the no-brain and mundane tasks from your human agents and give them to a robot, which will gladly perform them with precision, speed, and accuracy, then your agent will have more time to focus on challenging and value-bringing tasks and interactions.
Recently, we removed 7,5 minutes from a type of interaction that before automation took in average 8 minutes using Robotic Process Automation. Now the agents handling these types of tasks saves 7,5 minutes on every interaction. During that time, they can take other interactions, or put more focus and a better human touch on the other interactions.
Automation is here to help businesses and especially the contact and call centers and the agents in being better versions of themselves. Contact or call center agents are usually afraid of taking in automation, because they fear they will be redundant and replaced by the technology/robot. But this is almost never the case. When you implement automation in a contact or call center, what usually happens is the agents come alive, and start putting even more heart and soul into the work and interactions. Providing those customers, who wish to interact with a human agent, with a much better experience. With automation you remove the tasks that the agents, let us face it, hate, and giving them the joy of working back. An agent typically became an agent in the first place because he or she loves the human interaction. This is a tendency business owners and managers usually realize, and then the robot becomes a beloved part of the agents work.
If you are not sure how to start your automation project read this article on how you can make you RPA investment a success.
Gut-feelings are so last year. As a business today you have the possibility to access valuable data if you want. And the thing is, if you do not access that data and leverage it for the good of your business, your competitor will.
As it is today without interactions analytics tool implemented companies base their decisions on 20% of the interactions in average, but with a tool like this, companies take that number and turn it into 100% of all interactions. You won't get a better dataset than that.
In a contact or call center you are interacting with many different customers every day, and it is not possible for a human agent to read the meaning, sentiment, and feelings behind every interaction.
But there is different software out there with AI and machine learning at its core, which can handle this for you, with much better data available than if your agents did it themselves. And those data are completely actionable, structured, and easy to understand. From that data you can create guides, processes etc. to create a winning culture within your contact or call center.
Security questions are a pain for both agent and customer and annoy more than it provides value to the process or interaction. You should stop asking those. Of course, you cannot just do that and still provide a secure GDPR-compliant experience. But there is a solution for that. Using the world’s leading voice recognition, you can let the software handle that authentication for you. The software is called Real-Time Authentication and recognizes and verifies the callers voice within the first seconds. And no, it cannot be cheated – people have tried, and they have all failed.
This is an old way of thinking and doing business. Break down those silos and bring the efforts together as one inspiring and reinforcing team and culture. @Sales, you would be surprised in how much more revenue a customer service interaction could bring in while at the same time creating a good customer experience. @Customer Supper Team, you would be surprised how fun and easy it is to sell based on a good relationship with a customer on the other end of a call, who is happy because you just helped him/her with an inquiry.
Join forces and lift each other to new levels. And do not forget to bring marketing into the mix as well.
Your competition might be doing a good job when it comes to customer experience and agent experience, but instead of simply copying their way of doing it, get inspired from it, and create your own ways and strategy. If the experience a customer gets is the same in two different companies, then you leave it even more up to chance where the customer will choose to place its loyalty. By creating your own customer and agent experience strategy, people will be able to tell the difference between you and the competitor and associate the good feelings you provided during the process with your brand.
For too long Contact Centers have been seen as a cost center by many companies. And wrongly so! It makes me sad that I still hear that a Contact Center only exists to solve issues for our customer, and that is it. It is so, so much more than that!
Yes, it is true, we are solving the customer’s issues, but we are potentially also turning that customer into a valuable asset for the company - an ambassador for how great a service and experience we gave. That is not a cost, it is an investment for the future and marketing money spent in the best way.
A customer contacting a contact center with an issue and gets it solved in the best possible way is in my opinion worth more to the company than a customer having no issues, they talk about this way more than if everything was a happy ride all the way, and it gives the customer that feeling that we really care about our customers, and that the customer is dealing with other people and not just a brand.
Furthermore, we cannot forget all the data we bring into the company about our products, services and feelings from our customers. Surveys are a good way to understand our customers, but not nearly as good as an agent or machine taking that data and translating it to the insight we need to process and act on. And if you choose the correct tool to help you gather and analyze that data, you get 100% of the interaction’s value. This, in my opinion, is the greatest asset of having a contact center. Bring the company up to date with all insights, learn and act on them.
So, let's all stop acting like our contact center is just a cost centers and treat them as a value adding and powerful machine that can do wonders for your company if handled with the right resources, mindset, and processes.
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