As contact centres evolve as a result of COVID-19 now is a critical time to keep frontline staff safe and motivated.
What comes first: happy customers or happy employees?
It’s a question many have asked, but there’s one thing we’re certain of – positive employee engagement plays a critical role in a company’s success. Why? Because happy people are more loyal and enjoy their jobs, which means employers are rewarded with higher staff retention, higher performance and lower onboarding and training costs. At a time when COVID-19 has forced many contact centre agents to work from home, leaving them isolated from colleagues, the spotlight has been fixed on employee engagement, exposing gaps in existing strategies, processes and technology.
Provide purpose and tools
When Puzzel surveyed over 100 contact centre professionals, it discovered that ‘a sense of purpose with clear goals’ (91%) and ‘having the right knowledge and tools to do the job’ (87%) were top contributors to agent happiness.i You may already have a plan for employee engagement, however, now is the perfect opportunity to review your current strategy. It’s surprising how a few months of lockdown and remote-working can add a fresh perspective to even the most carefully thought-out plan.
3 winning strategies for effective employee engagement
Novice or expert, here are three ways to keep frontline staff happy:
- Create a flexible workplace – Workforce Management (WFM) is commonly associated with improving staff schedules for the benefit of customers. Enabling contact centres to efficiently manage staff capacity across different teams, departments and geographies to smooth out the peaks and troughs of call volumes. Yet, experience tells us that many contact centres lose staff rather than customers because of inadequate scheduling, with 58% of contact centre professionals citing ‘too little to do or too much time spent on mundane, repetitive tasks’ and 56% citing ‘constant stress’ as major challenges.ii WFM is a powerful morale-boosting tool for agents. A good place to begin is to use it to introduce flexible schedules that help agents accommodate the practicalities of combining customer-facing duties with domestic responsibilities such as childcare. Next, create optimal schedules that play to their individual skills and proficiencies as well as personal preferences to keep agents stimulated, motivated and with you for the long-term. Then, help agents to grow and flourish by substituting their long commute times with new learning opportunities to boost career prospects.
Finally, introduce a strong and inclusive leadership culture. Encourage managers to build camaraderie and teamwork and use video conferencing to conduct weekly huddles. Encourage colleagues to talk to each other, share ideas and achievements via online-chat facilities. Continue to involve agents in decision-making and reward good performance, especially team performance for inclusivity.
- Give agents the right tools to do their job – the Puzzel survey tells us that ‘IT issues and/or clunky technology’ (71%) are major barriers to effective employee engagement.iii The right technology makes life easier and brings out the best in employees. One of the many benefits of cloud-based contact centre solutions (CCaaS) is that agents can log in from anywhere at any time. Integration with CRM and other business applications gives agents all the information they need to create better and faster omnichannel customer interactions to boost agent confidence and satisfaction. Make sure agent interfaces are intuitive and easy to use. Everything should be made available from a one screen application for ease of use and simplicity. Allowing agents to concentrate on the customer. Ticketing solutions are now the latest ‘must-have’ for effective case management. Offering a simple, single sign-on for all contact centre activities, integrated ticketing technology automatically creates tickets that document, store and catalogue any number and type of customer interactions over time, making it possible for agents to resolve both simple and complicated issues from start to finish.
- Focus on knowledge for connected agents – and connected customer conversations. A good place to start is with your FAQs and knowledgebases – which are a valuable and empowering source of information for not only customers, but agents too. When combined with dynamic call scripts that are easily accessible, they vastly improve agent productivity and job satisfaction levels. Introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI) to simplify everyday tasks and interactions. AI-powered tools are a powerful addition to any employee engagement toolkit. You can build dedicated virtual personal assistants or ‘bot buddies’ that allow agents to communicate with them through speech or text to find answers to customer queries and suggested responses – rather like a whisper in the ear. The best solutions are embedded with ‘sentiment analysis’ technology. These capture and record the mood of the customer based on current and past conversations and then relay this vital intelligence to agents to boost confidence, satisfaction and productivity.
While some things haven’t changed during this period of upheaval, it has provided an opportunity to review employee engagement and the technology available to ensure happy employees and happy customers regardless of which came first. The Puzzel Customer Service Platform combines the proven benefits of the Cloud with integrated Workforce Management (WFM), Ticketing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide end-to-end customer interaction that boosts employee engagement both in contact centres and remotely. To find out more about what makes your team tick, download the Puzzel Agent Wellbeing Survey Results.