Contact centers need the support of their senior-level managers to fulfill their potential. It’s particularly important for top executives to understand the challenges their managers face in terms of what they do and how they do it. Critical issues for these managers include the following: Workforce management, Employee and customer experiences, Motivational work environments, Employee burnout, New technologies.
Improve Workforce Management
Balancing staffing levels against workflow requirements is one of the most difficult jobs for a call center manager. This task requires the manager to predict baseline demand as well as spikes in contact volume since both understaffing and overstaffing carry adverse consequences for the contact center.
Successful workforce management (WFM) involves a careful study of internal processes to identify any workflow problems, especially bottlenecks. Once this step is been completed, managers can create an environment that efficiently executes the contact center’s deliverables. Achieving these business goals in a synchronized, orderly manner while forecasting staffing needs often requires dedicated WFM software.
The proper pairing of roles and responsibilities with an agile reporting process is imperative for providing quality service in the contact center. Managers must ensure that these reports provide the appropriate information and are current to avoid discrepancies with other reports. They should also promptly communicate any report amendments to their agents so they can provide customers with accurate information.
Elevate Employee and Customer Experiences
Successful contact center managers understand the close relationship between employee experience and customer experience. Agents who are happier and more prepared are able to deliver better customer service than those who are disgruntled or uninformed. Multiple factors contribute to the process of improving the experience of employees, including recruitment, onboarding, and training. Managers must also understand that employees in the gig economy are always looking for their next job.
The high rate of attrition in most contact centers results in high costs due to inexperienced agents, including the damage to brand reputation caused by poor customer experiences. Maintaining quality levels and transferring knowledge becomes increasingly difficult as the agent turnover rate increases. Managers must then scramble to meet service levels by keeping agents proficient in their needed skills. Achieving these goals requires a variety of tools and other resources for training.
The fast pace typical in contact centers also presents a challenge for meeting training requirements. Managers need to consider the lifestyles of their agents when scheduling training sessions since their lifestyles can be highly variable for agents in modern contact centers. The ability to schedule training during idle periods is particularly helpful for helping agents maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal lives. Managers can also improve the experience of agents by providing them with training resources in real-time.
Foster Motivational Work Environments
Motivating contact center agents requires managers to clearly define attainable goals. Even the strongest incentive program will lower employee morale and ultimately affect the customer experience if agents don’t feel they can meet their performance goals. These programs should follow a regular cadence without becoming repetitive or selecting the same handful of agents as winners each time. It’s crucial for managers to prevent incentive programs from becoming part of the agents’ daily grind.
Managers must also ensure they connect rewards with desired results. A system that motivates agents to strive towards bonuses by sacrificing workflow or customer experience defeats the purpose of an incentive program. The solution to this problem is to create target-based initiatives with the right revenue target. These programs must also highlight the company’s core values, which typically involve using multiple motivating factors.
Contact centers should also have goals for different time periods, such as daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals. Managers should scale rewards so that the goals for longer time periods have bigger rewards. Goals for different organizational levels such as division, department, and team are also an effective method of creating an environment of camaraderie and mutual support.
Reduce Employee Burnout
Employees who are struggling with burnout will soon suffer a loss of performance, which will inevitably impact customer experience. Keeping agents engaged requires managers to maintain a culture that encourages them to be their best selves. Punishing employees for expressing their ideas or pointing out problems is the fastest way to reduce their level of engagement.
One of the most cost-effective methods of reducing burnout is to encourage agents to get up from their station every hour. Many contact centers do this, but few of them enforce it with tools like timers and automatic routing that allow agents to easily take breaks. Managers should also explain that breaks are necessary for the agents’ well-being and the next customer they serve.
Burnout typically occurs slowly over time such that agents who were previously engaged with their work gradually feel a little less so each day until they begin looking for another job. This disenchantment is often the result of uncertainty as to how the agents’ daily duties connect with their organization’s goals. Managers can fight this tendency by holding regular sessions that explain how serving customers leads to higher retention. It’s particularly important for managers to connect positive customer experiences with the company’s vision.
Embrace New Technologies
Contact center technology has been changing particularly rapidly over the last decade, especially software. Furthermore, customers have increasingly high expectations for being able to communicate with contact centers through multiple channels. The combination of these factors has made the adoption of new technology crucial for gaining a competitive edge over other contact centers. Managers should, therefore, have a budgetary allocation for technological investments.
The siloing of information is one of the greatest technological barriers to optimizing contact center operations in 2020. This architecture means that each data source stores information in a separate location, or silos. However, data silos result in agents providing inconsistent information to customers, reducing customer experience. Delivering consistent messages across all contact channels is new essential for the success of modern contact centers.
Maintain Optimal Performance
Spending time in a contact center is the only way to understand its unique environment and the issues that should be constantly reinforced to maintain optimum performance. Senior executives who make this effort almost invariably walk away from the experience with a better insight into the challenges that managers face in the contact center.