2019 Contact Center Mega Trend: Moving Beyond Workforce Optimization
By Kelly Koelliker
Posted in Customer Engagement
You already know that contact center agents aren’t just robots that you can schedule and move like chess pieces. Right?
Sure, Workforce Optimization (WFO) solutions improve staffing, efficiency and quality. The good ones can even help better engage employees.
But, are they truly driving employee engagement? Are they helping your agents deliver personalized service? Do they consider human-to-robot interactions and hand offs?
The market has made a massive shift recently in terms of automation in response to growing complexity and ever-increasing customer expectations. So, we pulled together 8 new ideas to help you navigate this changing landscape.
What’s the bottom line?
Move beyond Workforce Optimization and view your challenges and goals through the lens of Workforce Engagement.
Before we get to all of these trends and buzzwords, let’s start with the basic questions:
First, do you know what your customers want from a modern customer experience (CX)?
Next, do you give your employees the right tools they need to help?
So let’s get started.
One area we can agree on … everything is more complex now.
For instance, the simple calls that were previously answered in your contact center are now answered through self-service. That seems like a good thing until you realize it means every call that comes in now is a hard one.
Here’s the thing: There’s too much information to memorize. When your agents don’t have the tools to respond quickly and easily, average handle times (AHT) go up, first call resolution (FCR) goes down, escalations increase, and costs start rising.
Bottom line: Agents need easy access to information in context and in the moment. It takes automation, knowledge management and Artificial Intelligence (AI) working together to tackle this problem.
Knowledge Management gives agents a single place to find answers to all types of questions. This is a helpful starting point, but it still forces agents to find the single piece of information they need.
Since most knowledge bases have thousands of articles, this can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
To really help your agents, the right information should be available right when it’s needed – without searching. How do you do that? By understanding …
Check out this example of how Verint Real-Time Speech Analytics listens to customer conversations and provides the right knowledge on the fly:
“Our agents truly make the difference. We cannot lose sight of that… But they need the tools, especially as we get larger and more complex. There are so many more clients, they can’t just remember everything like they used to, so Verint is helping us bring those tools, so our agents can be the best."
Brent Allen, Vice President, Service Operations, Green Shield Canada (Check out their video success story)
Imagine interacting with the world’s most elegant user experiences for several hours per day. Now imagine spending many more hours than that dealing with slow and clunky apps.
This is the life of a call center agent. At home, they use the F.A.N.G. apps (Facebook, Amazon, NetFlix and Google). But at work, they enter a time machine where applications are older than them. They have to toggle between windows while redundantly keying information into mainframe systems.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
The last video shows how automation and AI can give agents the right information at the right time. And even if you are still using old technology, you can mask this from your agents. Using a unified desktop on top of those systems gives your agents a single place to work.
Mobile can also modernize the employee experience. Can your agents manage their work schedule on their mobile device? Or do they have to log onto a computer, access the VPN and then open their WFO application just to see their schedule?
Verint Mobile Work View gives call center agents a way to easily check and adjust their work schedule from anywhere. Check it out:
We use robots to vacuum our floors, order groceries and drive our cars. But what are robots doing in the contact center?
Automation gets things done faster and with fewer errors. For instance, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) helps you:
Sounds great, right? Check out this video to learn “What is Robotic Process Automation?”
You might be wondering, what are other ways automation can be used in a call center?
Another example is Automated Quality Management. Currently, most call centers only score about 1% of calls for quality. Automation brings the percentage up to 100%.
If you are listening to and scoring 100% of calls and your competitor is listening to 1% of calls, it might take them 100 times longer to spot trends or correct behaviors than you. That’s a powerful competitive differentiator.
Here’s the end result: Using automation in quality assurance gives you a complete picture of your customer service quality. Also, you also have a more fair evaluation of each employee’s performance.
As you know, today’s employees demand more flexibility than ever. Contact centers are competing with the limitless flexibility of the gig employers to attract talent.
So, what’s the answer to giving more flexibility?
How does that happen? With Workforce Engagement, managers can:
Basically, Workforce Engagement lets you rethink who, what, when, where and how work gets done.
You already know it’s not easy building a great culture. Remote workers, inconsistent shifts and huge cube farms create barriers to creating a sense of belonging.
You might be wondering how social media can bridge this gap:
Employee communities are a simple way for employees to post messages, share tips, and build relationships. This is an excellent way to build your culture even as teams become more virtual and scattered.
Also, Gamification allows workers to compete with each other on performance goals. This builds engagement and improves service metrics across the board.
Want to see communities in action? See how Texas Instruments helps employees share knowledge and help customers:
But what about social media to interact with consumers? Obviously, that’s part of the puzzle.
Workforce Engagement lets you see and respond to social media messages just like other channels.
Here’s the kicker: Your agents are already familiar with these channels. Working with customers this way matches their existing skills and comfort level.
Speaking of social media, let’s talk about millennials. These digital natives now make up a large part of your workforce.
Paul Stockford from Saddletree Research recently talked about the importance to optimize for their needs, desires and skills. Check out his interview on the shift they created in contact center strategy:
Workforce Engagement solutions were built with millennials in mind.
Consider how the apps align to their skills and interests:
With traditional Workforce Optimization, the organization’s needs for scheduling and forecasting took precedence, but Workforce Engagement also addresses the employee’s own need for flexibility. When employees are engaged and happy, the improved execution follows.
By meeting the expectations of millennials, you can get the most out of your team.
Everyone wants happy customers and an effortless customer experience (CX). But how do you actually get there?
Unless a customer is solving a problem by themselves in self-service, he or she will rely on your employees. Frequently, it’s the employee who delivers the make or break impression of your company.
The experience can be positive or negative. The customer can leave satisfied or frustrated. They will remain loyal or go to a competitor. Each interaction is a chance for a successful outcome.
This is why Workforce Engagement focuses on your employees as something more than an asset or expense. There is no path to happy, satisfied customers that does not include engaged, empowered employees.
At Verint, we believe that engaged employees need:
To sum up, the key to Workforce Engagement is to balance the customer experience, employee experience and operational effectiveness.
It’s about giving the employee everything they need to perform more complex, high-value tasks. Check out Mila D’Antonio from OVUM Research discussing this trend:
How do you pull this off? A successful customer engagement strategy requires providing the right tools across the customer’s journey. It helps to think of these tools as Plan, Engage and Analyze:
First, improving customer engagement requires a plan that makes the right agents with the right skills available at the right time. That’s a tall order!
Next, planning for success includes training and coaching, forecasting the right schedules, and tracking work backlogs. This is where Workforce Optimization has historically shined. But the answer can’t stop there.
Once you have the right agents in place, they will need to tools to handle complex questions quickly and correctly.
Agents need to quickly access vast amounts of information. They need to follow multi-step processes accurately. Third, they need to engage consistently with customers across a variety of channels.
Contact centers should always look for ways to get better. That’s why the analysis component of your customer engagement strategy cannot be ignored.
You can do this with tools such as speech and text analytics, as well as automated quality scoring for calls. Insights from this analysis will feed future planning and the cycle continues.
The combination of Plan, Engage and Analyze is what defines Workforce Engagement. That’s it – 3 steps to happier employees AND happier customers.
To sum it all up, Workforce Engagement is much more than Workforce Optimization.
The world is changing and your customers are changing. Most importantly, your employees are changing. Workforce Engagement puts you in the position to win. After all, the future is already here:
To learn more, go to https://www.verint.com/engagement/our-offerings/solutions/workforce-engagement/index.html
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