Managing workforce engagement in a hybrid contact centre – Craig Farley, Head of Consulting IPI explains
In the wake of the disruption caused by the pandemic, contact centres have had to evolve to meet new customer expectations and new ways of working. Their complex environments have become even more intricate with the growth of cloud-first business functions, an increase in digital applications and, most significantly, the prevalence of flexible, hybrid working.
According to the ONS, in spring 2022 38% of working adults in Great Britain reported having worked from home at some point over the past seven days, while Gartner found 89% of service leaders forecast that 30% to 80% of their workforce will still be working from home two years from now. In addition, a 2021 study from the CCMA found that over three quarters (79%) of UK-based contact centre advisors would like a hybrid working model, with 59% of respondents saying they would like to split their time equally between the office and remote locations, or mainly be office-based with some remote working.
But with such a dispersed workforce, it’s vital that contact centres are not only able to meet agent expectations to provide flexible working, but can also keep agents engaged, productive and secure whilst doing so. The need for effective Workforce Engagement (WFE) has never been more paramount.
Why WFE matters
Workforce Engagement can be invaluable in enabling contact centres to meet the demands of a hybrid workforce. From using AI-powered forecasting and scheduling, and automated quality and compliance management, to real-time speech and text analytics, WFE is its own entity that encompasses everything from Workforce Management (WFM) to Quality Management and Speech and Text Analytics.
With WFE, contact centres can ensure that the right agents are scheduled to work on the right activities, at the right time; quality processes, from scoring to compliance, can be automated and the quality of human interactions assessed across all digital and voice channels; and conversations across voice- and text-based platforms can be analysed with real-time analytics.
But why does this all matter? For starters, contact centres can significantly reduce their costs by eliminating overstaffing and unnecessary overtime with more accurate forecasting and scheduling. They can also see lower attrition rates and higher employee engagement when flexible shifts and quality management are in place. Finally, customer experience (CX) can be improved across multiple channels by reducing time to answer, average handle time, and first-call resolution when issues are resolved early on with the help of interaction analysis and more accurate agent scheduling. In a time when 78% of customers said they would purchase products or services from a company again if they had a good customer experience, delivering on CX by improving the employee experience is key.
Tips for effective WFE in a hybrid environment
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that accurately predicting what’s going to happen next can seem near impossible. Combined with the increased flexibility of hybrid working, as well as the boom in omnichannel demands from customers, it can be dauting for contact centres to be sure they have the right staff working, at the right time, on the right channels – and ensure they’re delivering top quality CX in a safe and secure environment.
WFE can help by bringing all of these elements together to ensure a streamlined, quality employee experience that improves the journey for both agents and customers. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of WFE:
Implement WFM systems for more accurate scheduling and forecasting – a part of WFE, WFM systems enable contact centres to steer the ship when it comes to scheduling and forecasting. They are an invaluable resource, especially with the automated, AI-powered solutions that are available today. Use them to accurately forecast what agents will be needed and when based on data insights on previous peaks and troughs and automatically update schedules in real time to reflect any changes in agents’ circumstances or on-the-day changes in customer behaviour.
It’s also important to keep agents informed and equipped to enable them to update their own schedules, and allow them to suggest changes to suit their needs. By gathering and processing these requests without manual intervention, contact centres can not only ensure their agents are content, but that there will always be someone there to interact with a customer.
Give supervisors more time for coaching and upskilling with automated quality management – managing performance and quality assurance in a hybrid environment is not easy, but it’s vital to keep on top of it to ensure agents and customers alike are secure and having a great experience.
One way to do this is to automate end-to-end quality processes, from scorecards to training. Not only will this enable you to assess the quality of interactions across all channels, as well as automate the quality and compliance of bot interactions in self-service channels to reveal the most important interactions, but it also enables managers to be freed from monitoring activities to focus on coaching and upskilling. With more and more digital tools being introduced as contact centres become increasingly digital-first, and with ever-changing customer expectations, it’s vital that agents have the skills required to meet these demands. So why not leave the quality management to the bots so the agents can focus their attention where it matters?
Use interaction analytics to provide agents with the information they need – it’s no secret that agents can provide a better customer experience when they have the right information in front of them to help solve a customer problem or answer their query. By implementing speech and text analytics, contact centres and agents can gain a deeper understanding of what their customers are saying, where there might be issues in the customer journey that need mitigating, and how their experience can be improved.
There are now even AI-powered transcription text and voice tools that can automatically analyse conversations, helping to uncover even more valuable insights to help agents deliver a better CX, as well as solutions that deliver ‘in the moment’ advice notifications to agents based on real–time, contextual interaction analytics. Give your agents a helping hand by giving them the tools they need to do their best work.
Workforce Engagement for the future
Hybrid working in contact centres is here to stay, so there’s never been a better time to prioritise Workforce Engagement. Ensure you meet agent and customer expectations by having the right people working at the right time, and ensure they have all the information they need to deliver the best CX, now and in the future.
IPI is the UK’s leading digital contact centre specialist, focused on creating intelligent and innovative contact centre solutions that deliver exceptional customer experiences.
IPI understands that technology is only part of the solution to addressing business challenges within the contact centre. Its experts know the intricacies of people, technology, processes and customer demands and understand the realities of running a contact centre, as well as the practicalities of making advanced software deliver to its full potential.
By looking at the challenges and business drivers in the contact centre, both today and in the future, IPI ensures its clients realise the full benefits of their contact centre technology by using it as an enabler to achieve measurable results and maximise investment value. Fully focused on business outcomes, IPI offers a comprehensive blend of contact centre operational experience, combined with deep technology expertise. This enables its experts to align the most appropriate technology for its clients’ needs, and ensure people are equipped in the short and long term to deliver exceptional experiences.
Founded in 2001, IPI supports more than five million customer interactions and 65,000 agents every day. Headquartered in Reading, UK, IPI also has offices in London and Manchester, as well as in the Philippines.
For additional information on IPI View their Company Profile