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Contact centre agents are the heart of customer service operations. No matter how technology progresses, there is a greater awareness now of the importance of human connection to customer experiences. Having a friendly or understanding voice on the line or even a face on a video call can make a huge difference to outcome and satisfaction. However, with the well known pain point of agent engagement and rising levels of vulnerability, how can agent wellbeing be nurtured in a contact centre environment?
Contact centres have long struggled with the levels of agent churn. With the level over the past few years hovering around 20-21%. Now against the backdrop of COVID and the Great Resignation this has risen to 23% according to ContactBabels UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers Guide 2022. It may be that the simplest of solutions could offer the answers supervisors need to tackle this challenge. Could it all start with an open discussion about what agents want for themselves? No one wants to patronise and micromanage their staff, that would be counterproductive. However, asking the right questions can help identify the right incentives and support so agents can take responsibility for their own wellbeing.
“If you don’t make time for your wellness you will be forced to make time for your illness.” Adage
“If you don’t make time for your wellness you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
Agents not only deliver invaluable customer experiences; they are also costly to replace. Taking steps towards agent wellbeing is a sound business strategy. It is not possible to simply make wellness a new target; you can’t make someone else happy, but you can certainly contribute to the conditions that can help them thrive.
In the contact centre, it is unrealistic to think wellbeing can be granted to agents with a wave of new policies. Promoting the right conditions for wellbeing is possibly the most impactful step contact centres can make. With this in mind, it is also worth considering another adage, money can’t buy happiness. True as this may be, worrying about making ends meet adds to the stress that can push agents towards burnout and affect productivity. However, as people are motivated by different goals, a lot still depends on finding out what those goals are for each individual so they can be used to unlock agent satisfaction and wellbeing.
What agents are increasingly looking for is a career. With technology to support efficiency and shift the weight of repetitive tasks to automated services, the opportunity opens to specialise or develop new skills to reach higher levels of job satisfaction. Mundane tasks do not allow agents to showcase their skills in a way that creates meaning or purpose to their time spent at work. Although technology helps with improving agent experience, it can’t directly give them the satisfaction of a job well done that helps counteract the stress or monotony that can push them towards burnout and fatigue.
Existing workplace structures can be used to serve additional purposes. Performance or routine agent reviews can be used to ask the questions needed to make decisions about career paths and working patterns together. Why make assumptions about what agents want when the conditions exist to just ask?
Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions are designed with agent experience in mind. Working life will always have challenges and technology will never take that away but it can be created in such a way to be intuitive and helpful rather than an extra hurdle. Infused with artificial intelligence (AI) and a 360-degree customer view, agents get the insights they need to really understand a customer’s queries.
CCaaS solutions can also help empower agents. Capabilities such as intelligent routing harness the skills that agents develop as part of their career path. Meanwhile, dashboard insights and analytics prove to agents they can make a difference, and this can also be used for coaching and mentoring. Agent wellbeing comes from a balance between home life and work life, stress management and the right challenges as well as being confident to act autonomously with the right backdrop of support. CCaaS solutions can’t do this for anyone but they can help fit the pieces together so they work in harmony.
For a more in-depth look at agent wellbeing and strategies in contact centres, you can download Odigo’s eBook here.
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