Contact centres have an image problem.
With staff turnover often running at double the national average and high levels of absenteeism the norm – many companies face an uphill battle when it comes to attracting, retaining and motivating happy contact centre agents.
The culture within contact centres is part of the problem. A focus on metrics such as schedule adherence, shrinkage and call wrap times often come at the expense of agents’ needs.
With a reputation for being inflexible, unfulfilling places to work, companies are desperately seeking ways to make the contact centre a more attractive environment — and technology is helping to make that happen.
The inflexibility issue
Inflexibility, relentless pressure and a lack of training and development opportunities are some of the main reasons for job dissatisfaction among agents.
Contact centres need to have the right number of agents taking calls at the right times, to successfully meet customer demand and avoid call backlogs. But this quest to prioritise customer demand has historically meant that agents have had to adhere to super strict schedules. There’s been limited ability to change hours or book time off without submitting requests way in advance. Granting leave has also traditionally been a painful and manual process for contact centre planners.
This leads to a perception that there’s a lack of autonomy or work-life balance in contact centres – which in turn leads to disengaged, unhappy agents.
Agents feel the pressure
It’s obviously crucial that contact centres are efficient and productive. But a narrow focus on cost-focused metrics such as average call handling times (AHT) isn’t always conducive to agent wellbeing – and this can have an impact on the overall performance of the contact centre.
Setting targets to reduce AHT, for example, places huge pressure on agents to get customers off the phone – and doesn’t recognise the quality of the experience for either the caller or the agent.
Increasing the value placed on customer centred metrics such as resolution rates, however, can identify where the problems are for customers and where additional support is needed for staff. Action can then be taken to address both.
Similarly, in an environment centred solely around productivity and profitability, activities such as agent training and coaching often aren’t prioritised, especially when service levels are under pressure. This leaves agents less equipped to improve those resolution rates.
Enter Intraday Automation
Intraday Automation (IDA) is helping companies to change contact centre culture for the better, starting with flexibility. Agents can swap shifts, move their scheduled breaks or request last minute holidays – all tasks that have been laborious in the past.
Via the self-service element of the app, agents can also access features such as timebanking or instant break requests (on the back of a difficult call, for example.) All of this gives staff more control over their working day and has a huge impact on employee engagement.
Planners maintain visibility over how changes to schedules may affect contact centre performance, but the process of granting agent requests is automated to save them precious time. IDA will not allow service levels to suffer, however, which means that – even when tasks are set to Autopilot – the call centre will not be compromised.
If planners ever want to manage threats or opportunities themselves, they can take back control at any time. They can view recommendations before they are applied or switch Autopilot off immediately for certain elements of their operation.
And then there’s training. With its ability to predict quiet periods where agents would otherwise be sitting idle, IDA enables companies to unlock pockets of free time to schedule important L&D activities. This is a real game changer for planning teams, who have traditionally struggled to be quick and agile enough to make better use of idle time.
Not only does this improve results within the contact centre, but it also leads to more fulfilled agents who feel invested in.
We’ve interviewed some of the leading voices in the contact centre industry for our latest white paper: Why are contact centres still failing their agents. They’ve given us their insight into why a focus on agent wellbeing is FINALLY turning contact centres into employers of choice. Download the paper here.