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It can be easy to forget that the contact centre industry is full of passionate and motivated individuals. Historial bad press and publicity on burnout and turnover could fool anyone into thinking the idea of contact centre culture is not grounded in reality. Today however, there is a lot of focus around human-centric values, empathy and wellbeing, with good cause. Inspired by the recent Get Out of Wrap podcast it’s time to talk about promoting a positive future for contact centres.
Research from the Call Centre Management Association shows that 64% of customers think a customer service career does an important job for the community. This is really something to be proud of but what else could contact centres be doing to promote a positive culture and celebrate what the industry has to offer? In the spirit of current themes like empathy and agent wellbeing contact centres should bring teams together and nurture talent to create a healthier more sustainable future.
Higher education and vocational courses can be great tools to access certain careers but they are not easily accessible to everyone or the right choice. The effectiveness of an agent is often enhanced by the personality and charisma as well as the communication and active listening skills that some people naturally possess. The risk with listing entry qualifications is that some very suitable job hunters will not apply simply because they do not meet all the listed requirements. This is for a variety of reasons and there are some fascinating gender-related differences as to why. However when what makes a great agent is not always something easy to measure, maybe rigid qualifications are not needed, they may even put off raw talent.
Contact centres can showcase supportive culture and are amazing places where many people in the industry have started at the bottom and worked their way up. This pathway creates an intimate knowledge of a business and develops valuable skills and perspectives to bring to senior levels. The agent role can be, for those who want it, an access point into a career that might otherwise have been unattainable.
Often talent spotting is focused on the young up-and-coming go-getters, but earmarking these agents for promotions can mean another talent is sometimes overlooked. Certainly, technology can help; real-time omnichannel statistics and supervisor tools like quality management and call transcription. These tools can inform decisions but don’t always give a feel for the person themselves. This is why one-to-ones, call listening or simply observing how someone interacts with customers and teammates on in-office days can make a big difference. Scheduling time for these remote and in-person aspects can be made easier with cloud-based solutions and workforce management.
Another consideration here for healthy contact centre culture is to keep promoting diversity and balance within teams and leadership. Certainly, if you want to promote diversity at higher levels entry-level positions matter. This is because at each step on the ladder any intentional or unintentional bias in the system exerts an influence and the talent pool for minority groups will decrease further: as illustrated in McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021. In a phrase coined in their 2019 study of the same name across the world of employment, there is a broken rung to be mindful of, in that the first step up to manager is one of the biggest obstacles to women reaching senior positions.
Today, a growing number of companies are choosing to migrate to a cloud-based contact centre solution to improve customer experience. This move sparks two questions: how to control data and which people should have access to it.
Part of contact centre life is monitoring and measuring. To some, it may seem to clash with the idea of healthy contact centre culture but a data-driven approach goes a long way to making well-informed, fair decisions about promotions and can be a part of a kind management and coaching. If it’s done right. Single parameters, or metrics, don’t give a complete picture, analytics processes are crucial to help interpret multiple metrics to get a more complete picture of context.
So can you measure if someone is good at their job? Yes, for the most part, however ‘how’ depends on the definition of ‘doing a good job’. This comes down to values and customer service promises. Empathy is increasingly important in customer service however a surefire way to nip it in the bud is to put agents under time pressure by making average handling time a major focus. For an embedded contact centre culture values and metrics need to be in alignment.
Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions can bring up-to-date technology to contact centres that benefit working processes and workforce management across sites, teams and hybrid working models. Odigo designs its solutions for the needs of all users to better support the passionate professionals and dedicated individuals for which technology can help create a level playing field if used correctly. CCaaS solutions can’t put people in the same room but through mature voice technology and omnichannel tools, it can bridge the gap to create flowing conversations between teams and customers.
This blog post was inspired by the recent Get Out of Wrap podcast where Odigo was in the hot seat with Martin Teasdale.
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