How to Empower Contact Centre Agents by Embracing Individuality
Author: Dana Averbouch, NICE
As an industry we can get caught up in the higher level debate about KPS, NPS and other important metrics, but lose sight of the fact that every seat that is occupied in the contact centre is a person, with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, attitudes toward work/life balance and ambitions. If we want to bring the very best out of these individuals and retain their services, then we need to be able to embrace their uniqueness and use their specific skills to make better, more engaging and productive interactions with customers.
Of course, every Contact Centre Manager, Forecaster and Team Leader working in across large and multiple sites knows this. The problem is how to manage it with limited resources. Hence why in many agents are still given uniform training programs to follow, in an attempt to improve performance scores and drive quality standards. But just like the customers they serve, agents too can benefit from the personal touch.
The good news is that there is a big change taking place in the field of Workforce Optimization with the introduction of what is being referred to as Adaptive Workforce Optimisation. It presents a new automated approach to coaching, training and scheduling, that takes in to account agent personalities and individual requirements.
Just as contact centres have recognised the mass of data they are collecting about customers, the same is true of their agents. Systems that are now commonplace in many contact centres such as VoC, Performance Management, speech and desktop analytics etc., are constantly capturing and storing masses of information about agents regarding their preferences (shift schedule, personal goals, incentives, development), attributes (articulate, personable, patient, knowledgeable etc.) and metrics (NPS, CSAT, FCR, compliance and attendance etc.).
Adaptive Workforce Optimisation is able to intelligently pool all of this data, analyse and correlate it, and build ‘personas’ for each agent, establishing a model that accurately predicts their individual needs, in order to deliver personalised training and improve his or her performance.
Here is an example of how it works in practise….
Jane is a millennial graduate starting out in her contact centre career in sales and service, while Jack is from generation X and has been doing the job for some time and has ideas of promotion to a Supervisor role. Jane has low customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and Jack is underperforming on his first call resolution (FCR). Taking the more traditional approach to agent management used in many large scale contact centres, Jane and Jack would receive one size fits all training.
Adaptive Workforce Optimisation provides a far more personalised development program, with training and recommendations that are fine-tuned to their individual development needs and also their longer term career objectives.
This system automatically determines that because Jane is beginning a career in sales and service, she needs more self-assessment opportunities to improve her CSAT scores, along with peer coaching. She is also scheduled for afternoon shifts where she performs better and is given real-time guidance (actions and information during an interactions) to help fine tune her ability to identify cross and up-sell opportunities.
Meanwhile, the more experienced Jack is also provided with self-assessment opportunities but these are tightly focused on those that resulted in a repeat call, to help improve his FCR. He also receives real-time guidance to help with his tendency to talk too fast, and unlike Jane, he performs better in the morning, so this is when his shifts are scheduled.
Being able to understand what makes every agent tick in this way has many benefits for the contact centre. Agents such as Jane and Jack will feel more valued in a role that fits both professional and personal needs, which in turn should have a positive impact on the age old problem of churn. Conversations with customers become more natural and engaging as agents have more freedom to express their personality, while customer satisfaction rises as agents are better able to meet their expectations.
What is more, Adaptive Workforce Optimisation can have a valuable role in the recruitment process, informing which persona type are best suited to certain roles and responsibilities within the contact centre.
The interest surrounding Adaptive Workforce Optimisation is well founded. Contact centres have become adept at focusing on people, personality and personalisation from a customer perspective, knowing it makes them happier and more inclined to stay loyal for longer. Now, they have the opportunity to do the same with their most valuable assets – their agents.
For more information about Adaptive Workforce Optimisation, you can watch a recorded webinar hosted by Jim Davies, Senior Analyst at Gartner, entitled The Impact of the Agent Persona on Adaptive Workforce Optimisation.