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As CCaaS technology evolves, contact center agent skills must follow

Thomas
Thomas Saint-Hilaire Chief Experience Officer

Contact center agents want to learn the craft of customer service, gain new skills and develop professionally. If they aren’t improving, then they’re moving. Upgrading your contact center’s technology will give agents the chance to upgrade their portfolio of skills while also minimizing stress and maximizing engagement from customers and agents alike.

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Your agents will create value for you if you let them.

The facts are in and it turns out that, even in spite of reports of high attrition rates, contact center agents tend to enjoy their jobs. The thing that contact center managers everywhere should realize is that the agent workforce is there not only to drive value – though they do enjoy the process of doing that. Empathy and workplace collaboration are invaluable soft skills, as the opportunity to make a genuine connection with customers is immensely satisfying for agents, and when they get to do it well, those connections enhance brand loyalty and value.

However, they also do it for themselves. They do it to learn the craft of customer service, to gain new skills, to develop professionally, and to move up the ladder. The last thing any of us wants to feel is replaceable. Moreover, there are other intangibles like feeling trusted for knowledge, expertise, and integrity. Workplace malaise sets in when these are denied. And when a contact center agent feels their skills aren’t improving (or worse, going to waste), or they are not recognized for their ability to make contributions, not only are they less efficient in resolving issues — they will move on. Contact centers that don’t trust agents to apply the skills required to do their job run the risk of getting caught up in the industry-wide problem of agent attrition.

They are already fighting that problem at a disadvantage. The well-worn stigma of contact center work is that it’s “unskilled”. Not giving contact center agents the required skills to help your brand compete in the marketplace feeds into that stigma. What’s more, managers have employed strategies that emphasize delighting the customer, which can come at the expense of contact center agents and developing their skills. Constantly putting agents in the crosshairs of angry customers at their expense is a method of overworking them that is a leading cause of burnout and empathy fatigue.

We could accept this as being the nature of the beast, but really, we shouldn’t. Contact centers can be better.

Contact center agent skills development and the culture of work

Symmetry of attention is a concept that all contact centers should swear by. At least as much investment should be made into developing contact center agent skills and increasing their engagement as there is into addressing customer problems and delivering on KPIs. Increasing engagement involves a serious look at upgrading your center’s technology, cited as one of the top ten contact center problems. It makes sense: enthusiasm for working flags when an agent can’t make their best effort. An engaged agent is a happy agent. Business leaders agree that prioritizing employee happiness gives companies a competitive advantage and makes it easier to retain talent.

Filling positions is a problem the world over right now, with 69% of companies reportedly having trouble keeping talent. Unfortunately, a portion of directors and managers in many industries have taken up the line that people “just don’t want to work”. But that attitude means they fail to see a massive shift in employment: the culture of work is changing. The pandemic forced companies to scramble to accommodate their employees in light of drastic, sudden changes to public health guidelines. The benefits of that shift are plain to see for companies and employees alike, not least in the area of employee engagement. Contact center agent environments have been improved thanks to working from home, now it’s time to upgrade their tools so that they may upgrade their skills.

Modern contact center solutions are moving in the direction of incorporating artificial intelligence (AI)-based innovations. The benefits of upgrading your contact center’s technology are two-fold, as optimizing agent engagement translates to growing your customer base’s engagement with your brand. Better technology means new skills for your contact center’s agents in the course of mastering it, with the added benefit of letting them handle interactions that require empathy. It also means a more intuitive user interface, which takes some of the expected pain out of the training process. All of which minimizes stress and maximizes performance, leading to faster call resolution, a boost in your customer satisfaction metrics and brand reputation.

You should not hesitate to develop contact center agent skills

Changing outdated mindsets means doing away with outdated practices, with which new technology is a great help. Making the leap to an AI-driven solution requires an investment in patience, faith and, of course, money. Then again, it already likely costs you a small fortune to continuously train new hires to command the phones. If you think you can’t justify the cost, can you justify the status quo? The reward potential is very high, to say the least. The arrival of AI offers a way to create an augmented contact center agent workforce that will help you grow your brand. And, in turn, contact center agents will feel energized, motivated, and engaged. Your agents will create value for you if you let them.

Get started with the right tools

Advancing technology is the key to helping develop skills required for contact center agents. When agents grow, brands grow. Odigo’s solution is designed to address issues surrounding symmetry of attention to help brands grow, better satisfy their customer base AND equip contact center agents with tools and skills, all of which help you deliver customer experiences as they were meant to be. That’s why Odigo has been recognized as a global Leader in the ISG Provider Lens™ Contact Center as a Service 2021 report. Odigo put clients first for 35 years by staying on the cutting edge of contact center technologies. And when clients come first, recognition follows.

Thomas Saint-Hilaire
Chief Experience Officer

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