By Kim Wallace, Executive Vice President at Hire Dynamics
With the battle to recruit and retain top talent raging across the U.S., few industries feel the fallout more than contact centers. In 2018, the Quality Assurance & Training Connection anticipated an annual turnover rate as high as 45 percent across American call centers – more than double that of any other space.
As a result, modern contact centers are exploring creative solutions to combat the lost productivity and elevated recruitment and training costs that come with attrition. For many, this includes upgrading obsolete technologies to drive the improved agent performance that sparks confidence and loyalty.
“It’s hypocritical for contact centers to ask agents to provide a first-class customer experience if we aren’t providing them with a first-class work environment,” said Gary Nixon, Director of Customer Care Strategy and Operations at Gas South.
Technological integration and optimization inspired new thinking and conversation at Hire Dynamics’ annual Contact Center Executive Forum (CCEF) in Atlanta. The 41st event in our Contact Center Executive Series was sponsored by First Advantage. Held May 8, 2019, the event brought a panel of veteran contact center leaders together with 143 attendees from 62 partners and local businesses for an interactive discussion around the trends and challenges shaping the future of work for directors, managers and agents. In addition to Nixon, panelists included Olga Martinez who recently retired as Director of Customer Care at Benevis and Pamela Goode, Contact Center Director at the Bobby Dodd Institute.
CCEF participants offered a positive outlook for the contact center workforce, emphasizing that today’s industry leaders expect technology to make workers more capable and content in their roles, rather than to replace them. In particular, the event explored three places where state-of-the-art systems can fuel digital innovation and employee satisfaction in contact centers:
Advanced customer service technologies enable teams to quickly review the full situational scope and route calls to appropriate representatives. Today, this allocation usually occurs alongside apps, chatbots and mobile platforms. While these digital outlets handle fundamental customer requests and questions, live agents can address more complex situations and provide more engaged and accurate feedback. This division of labor has reduced call volume while generating greater revenue potential for top talent in several prominent contact centers.
Holistic monitoring technology enables managers to review incoming calls and provide more direct feedback to new and veteran agents. When Martinez was at Benevis, speech recognition made the difference between manual monitoring and QA of eight random calls a month to every call. Within these reports, managers can be alerted for certain keywords and accurate adherence to their approved script. They can also gauge the tone and flow of each conversation. In addition, this deep dive uncovers the disposition of each call, helping agents anticipate and react to customers’ needs. As a result, managers can hold more meaningful and results-based coaching sessions that leverage team members’ strengths and improve overall performance. Agents, in turn, can refine their skills and discover confidence that increases their likelihood of staying with their company.
Flexible schedules remain a top recruiting and retention driver for customer service reps. Now, through a wider range of remote-ready technologies, contact center managers can extend these benefits to workers long tethered to their workstation. Noise masking even allows agents to accept and process calls from home without background noise. At the same time, managers can still monitor remote employee performance. According to the CCEF discussion participants, the transition to a virtual workforce – even if a slow one – is paying dividends. Goode reported that she has experienced productivity gains of 15% when agents are able to work from home. CSRs can maintain or improve even improve their performance while achieving better work-life balance. The ability to telework even enabled Martinez to retain employees when they moved away with the added benefit of being able to cover additional time zones.
While technology holds great potential to improve contact center performance and elevate employee satisfaction, the CCEF reaffirmed that it will be up to each individual business to explore the integrations and applications that best suit their unique operations. Specifically, it’s more critical than ever that managers and agents build strong relationships with their company’s technology and application development teams to identify and implement the specific solutions that will help them thrive.
To uphold high service standards, contact centers need qualified, tech-savvy employees who can contribute from day one. Whether you need assistance in refining your recruiting strategy or have questions around our Work4HD digital recruitment app, we are here to serve you!
©2019 Hire Dynamics, LLC