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Contact Center Executive Forum Reveals New Trends

By Callie Nikkhah, Hire Dynamics Practice Manager

Last week, Hire Dynamics, along with event sponsors Noble Systems and First Advantage, hosted our 36th event for contact center executives, managers, and thought leaders.  Over 130 attendees representing more than 50 organizations joined us for a lunch and panel discussion.

An esteemed panel of experts included Steve Strayer, Vice President of Client Services at ADP; DD Fritch, Contact Center Director at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; and Todd Hollrah, Senior Vice President of Operations at Convergent. In a session moderated by our own CEO, Larry Feinstein, the discussion centered on the most pressing issues and emerging trends in the contact center industry. Here are some of the highlights from the panel.

Q: What are some of the biggest changes you experienced last year, and what is coming in the next 12 months?

  • Growth in Contact Center Volume, Move to Chat

All panelists experienced high growth and reported that chat volume in their contact centers grew.  Todd with Convergent noted that chat made up about 5% of contact volume 12 months ago and has since grown to 15% which he sees continuing. Industry-wide, there has been a concerted effort to decrease email and voice call volume. Easier question and answer sessions are shifting to chat and text—or even concierge bots—while more involved issues continue to be handled by voice call agents.

  • Talent Retention in a Tight Labor Market

Convergent’s Todd Hollrah noted that retaining talent continues to be a focus with increasing wage and attrition pressures. The rising number of options for contact center gamification technology will see an increasingly competitive marketplace for employee engagement programs.  Work-from-home incentives were also mentioned as a way to grow employee satisfaction as omni-channel capabilities allow contact centers to become more efficient.

  • Shifts in Technology

The omni-channel contact centers on our panel are aligning teams to dedicated channels instead of having agents multitask which increases efficiencies and employee engagement. ADP and Convergent have seen voice call positions return to the U.S. due to the high level of English fluency and cultural knowledge needed to address escalated Tier 1 and Tier 2 challenges.

Knowledge management is key to the customer journey.  Therefore implementing 360 CRM platforms such as Salesforce to better map the customer experience and determine agent performance are crucial to track and humanize the entire contact center experience.

Q: What are you doing to retain talent in a historically tight labor market?

DD Fritch of Children’s, another employer recognized as a Best Place to Work for many years, has found success by forming a committee of agents that meets every six weeks. They focus on “staff celebrating staff” by planning themed days, cookouts, and other activities. ADP has a goal of holding at least one employee appreciation event each month, including “family days” that extends the reach to loved ones.

Q: What are you doing to recruit new talent?

All three panelists agreed that temp-to-hire staffing solutions are no longer only used for seasonal spikes. Using contingent employees creates a pool of talent that can be used to promote from within, creating a company culture with employees who are the best fit for that organization. Convergent has developed a proprietary personality test to match agent new hires with compatible supervisors to create a stronger company culture.

We would like to thank our panelists and our sponsors for another insightful and important conversation about the future of contact center employee management. Aside from our annual executive forum, we also offer more intimate events where we host a “contact center roundtable” at your company location and invite 20-30 contact center experts to discuss industry trends and current challenges.

For more information about planning your own roundtable event or to explore staffing solutions for your contact center, please contact Callie Nikkhah at cnikkhah@hiredynamics.com.

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