We’ve spoken a lot recently about technologies that are shaping the customer experience and helping to build the contact centre of the future. But, let’s strip it back to basics. What about the physical business asset that is the contact centre? We’re talking foundations, bricks & mortar (and yes, that includes anything outsourced).
In our recent Mitel seminar roundtables, some of the delegates’ questioned whether there would even be the need for a physical contact centre in the future. Thought provoking stuff, huh?
This article discusses how the contact centre can evolve from a physical business asset, to an agile business function.
Working from home (in the cloud)
Of course, flexible and remote working is definitely not a new concept. But in the contact centre, for many businesses, it is. As a role that’s been seen as an in-office only area of business for so long, we’re only just starting to see companies give their contact centre agents the free rein to work from home.
With the cloud, comes flexibility. There are many cloud-based contact centre solutions out there that facilitate this kind of working. No need for all your contact centre agents to be in the office.
A key concern is obviously: how do I know my agents are actually working? The answer is simple. You will not have less visibility over your staff productivity, just because they aren’t in the office. Cloud contact centre technology provides the tools to monitor people, processes and tasks. With the power to view how many conversations (voice/email/ social) each member of staff is handling, the length of them, call abandonment rates, first call resolution rates and other important metrics.
65% of workers believe they would be more productive working from home, than in a traditional office setting. And in our experience, this is true. Employees privileged enough to have this option often work longer hours and take less breaks in between. They are less distracted and have the focus they need to deliver outstanding customer service.
As the amount of millennials entering the workplace increases, there will be more of an expectation that contact centre staff will have the option to work from home, like everybody else. This generation have grown up with technology, they are tech savvy digital natives and want the freedom to work whenever, wherever and however they want. So, the businesses that are able to attract and retain the A-class talent will be the ones that offer arrangements like working from home.
Hot desking for agility
Working from home definitely isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer the hustle and bustle of the office. But instead of having an entire office space dedicated to being the contact centre, you could encourage hot desking throughout the entire organisation.
There’s benefits like the encouragement of social culture, cutting costs on the amount of office space required and dispersing the hierarchy throughout the organisation. Contact centre teams can stay in touch by using instant messaging, video chats and conferencing.
Contact centre staff are after all key to the organisation. Due to being on the front line with customers 24/7, they hold valuable information. Enabling contact centre staff to sit with a variety of employees that are also customer facing, such as account managers and sales people will give insight into key pain points customers are facing. Ultimately helping to improve the overall customer experience.
Hot desking is also a more agile way to work as the role of the contact centre agent changes. Increasingly, agents are dealing with more complex requests and will need to become higher skilled as smaller tasks are delegated to solutions like Conversational AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Sorry Dolly, the 9-5 is dead
Increasingly, work-life balance is becoming more important to people, even more so than pay grade. The right technology can set your contact centre agents free with more flexible shift patterns. Replacing the traditional 9-5 with flexi-time or rotating shifts.
Having a better work-life balance is proven to increase employee satisfaction. Contact centre work comes with its own stresses, so staff turnover can be high. Ensuring there are flexible working options in place will help to improve staff retention and morale, in turn decreasing costs on hiring new staff.
From physical asset to function
As the role of the contact centre agent changes, it’s important to remember the physical structure of a contact centre may well need to change.
We’ve already shown that there will be an increasing demand amongst contact centre agents to work flexibly, from home and a need for them to integrate further with the rest of their customer-facing counterparts.
When creating your own contact centre of excellence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your employees are chained to one office location. As long as the function of the contact centre delivers the customer service it needs does it really matter where your employees are?
This doesn’t mean you have to offer full-time homeworking or fully flexible shift patterns immediately. Start by letting out the line a little, the productivity results and satisfied employees will speak for themselves.
Remember, happy employees = happy customers.