10 things call centre agents wish for in 2016.

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Quote01_07_Fred-Reichheld,-Creator-of-Net-Promoter-System

Throughout 2015 we have spoken to countless agents, asking them about small improvements that could positively influence their work satisfaction and performance. From over a hundred responses, we’ve picked the top ten that kept coming back like boomerangs:

1.

“Please give team leaders the time to conduct weekly team meetings or “one on one” sessions. Even if it is just to say, ‘You’re doing a great job, do you have any questions for me?’. “

As contact centre becomes recognised as a vital CX touchpoint, the pressure to keep agents engaged grows. Contact centre managers will be faced with the challenge of reducing employee churn, the number of sick days and absences.

2.

“Drop the AHT. Average call length. Every call is different and some people need more than others. Holding every call to a seven-minute window is just asking your reps to have a mental breakdown because they are on an 8-minute call, creating a rushed call that will ultimately end in them calling back because we didn’t answer/help them properly.”

2016 will be the big one for revisiting some fundamental assumptions about the purpose of agents’ work. The focus will be shifted from achieving desirable metrics to helping customers. The old measurements that choked employees and caused them to engage in some shady trickery will be replaced by scores that encourage them to help the caller. Customer satisfaction will be measured throughout the call to produce a clear picture of the call and show aspects of the call customers are satisfied or disappointed with.

3.

“New technology. We are only as good as the tools we are given.”

This one goes beyond updating PCs running on Windows 95. It’s about embracing the tech such as cloud, omnichannel or speech analytics designed to free agents of the burden of confirming speaker’s identity, typing information into the system, tagging the call and rating it. Voice of the customer can be used in a number of processes: customer identification, agent matching, capturing anecdotal feedback, pinpointing sale opportunities, rating customer satisfaction (with product, company, agent, offers), trend prediction, preventing fraud and many more.

4.

“Having an employee satisfaction measurement would tell you a LOT. You’re not going to have happy customers with unhappy employees.”

Tables are turning. As the demand for customer service starts to grow, so will the interest in keeping agents in their positions. Contact Centres specialists will become valued assets, worth competing for. This will lead to increased interest in their well-being. Voice of the employee will be measured as attentively as the voice of the customer. Tempting employee benefits and perks will become bait for loyalty.

5.

“Scripts are fine as a guideline; that is all. Agents should have the option of speaking whichever way works for them, so long as it’s professional of course.”

Script compliance will become a mythical creature once companies take advantage of voice analysing algorithms that recognise identity, gender, age and emotional state within seconds. Real-time alerts will offer cues as to what style and lingo are the most appropriate in each particular case. Customer-agent matching will be a crucial task of analytic tools.

6.

“Quality monitoring. It has to happen, it has to be fair, and the agent has to be told about it.”

The current system of random scoring of the calls by the supervisor will be replaced by fully automated, 100% monitoring. Conversation solutions designed to recognise and understand words, context, sentiment and emotion will be able to give a full scope of each agent’s performance, allowing for a transparent, comprehensive, unbiased and fair assessment.

7.

“ALL targets should be achievable by the AVERAGE employee, not just by the best. Ideally, if you reward people that get over the target, people will reach for it.”

The only reason agents are judged on bogus statistics such as call length or an ambiguous survey at the end of the call is because (up until now) most call centre managers did not have access to a better set of metrics. With 100% call monitoring, it’s easy to spot the strongest skills of each agent. Any shortcomings can be addressed with targeted training matched to specific needs.

8.

“Record stats daily but rate an employee on their monthly average. Even the best employee will have bad days, but it will even out over time.

This one is a loaded issue – it’s about fairness, self-worth, appreciation and loyalty. Random, inconsistent quality assessment often leaves agents frustrated and discouraged. A feeling of being inadequate is one of the main causes of the high churn that call centres are infamous for.

9.

“Agents should get a daily log to see their own stats; heck, do it live if you’re able. There’s nothing like seeing your wrap go up to make you pull your belt in. Then, because you have the month to fix, you can sort it before it becomes an issue, rather than getting surprised at the end of the month that you’ve failed.”

Analysing every bit of information available will become a mantra of companies in the future. In 2016, think real-time information and user-friendly dashboards. The growing use of data will translate into an abundance of relevant information. Say goodbye to the silos. Analytics will become ubiquitous and accessible to all departments, and even more importantly, individual employees.

10.

“Treat us how you want us to treat your customers. Simple as that.”

Yes, really. Even though it sounds a bit corny, every executive should get it embroidered and hang it up in her or his office. This simple truth gets overlooked a lot – probably due to the fact that, historically, call centres were considered money drains. Now, with a rapid switch of power from enterprises to consumers, the role of the humble agent grows. Call centre has become a vital customer journey touch point, and a pure source of Voice of the Customer.

Before the end of the decade, data gathered by call centres will become an intrinsic source of information for the company’s decision makers and agents will be perceived as the brand avatars.

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