View Today’s Contact Center Challenges as Opportunities

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Contact centers have weathered unexpected and unyielding change since the start of the decade. A recent Bloomberg article points out they’ve experienced a “trio of pandemic-era shake-ups” including the move to remote work, higher than ever turnover, and callers eager to chat with a live person during Covid — all causing customer service wait times to soar to three times the norm, at least in the United States.

But instead of seeing these shake-ups as problems, the best CX, contact center and IT leaders are viewing them as opportunities. They’re seeing an opportunity to finally move to the cloud to gain the technology their agents need to resolve issues faster; an opportunity to attract, hire and retain better (and sometimes more cost-effective) talent from around the globe. They’re seeing an opportunity to modernize their processes and technology to better suit employees’ roles and job functions. Many of these changes probably wouldn’t have presented themselves especially in the contact center, if it weren’t for the pandemic.

The only constant is change

Let’s face it: the “trio of pandemic-era shake-ups” above aren’t new and they aren’t going to go away post-pandemic. Contact center employee turnover has traditionally run high, around 50% a year, according to Kelly Services’ contact center unit. Remote work is going to be an increasing demand. In a recent survey, nearly 90% of employees said they now prefer a role with remote options. And wait times are going to soar with every crisis a company faces.

The best thing any contact center organization can do is embrace current changes and then prepare for more change. Moving to the cloud in 2020 to support remote work was a great first step, but organizations must now invest in long-term technology to support a permanently distributed operational environment. If organizations can’t offer work from anywhere as an option, then they’ll not only lose out on the ability to recruit from the widest, best and most cost-effective talent pool possible, but they’ll also miss out on the next generation of talent. In Adobe’s State of Work Report, 49% workers said they’re likely to leave their current job if they’re unhappy or frustrated with workplace tech.

Informational and organizational silos that have traditionally existed between the contact center and the rest of the organization must also be eliminated in order to foster communication and collaboration and help agents quickly and successfully resolve customer issues to increase retention. But that’s not all….

Move forward to get ahead

Leading organizations are also investing heavily in UI and agent and supervisor workspaces based upon composable technologies that create streamlined, automated workflows that present agents and supervisors with what they need, when they need it. With the right information or quick access to it via organizational SMEs, plus rich data and context, agents are more productive, less frustrated, and fully empowered to resolve calls faster. With tools such as speech and text analytics, supervisors can pick up on issues and trends more quickly and coach in real-time to improve response and resolution times.

And don’t forget automation. Businesses that are able to deploy intelligent automation to handle routine customer inquiries have a tremendous advantage in reducing operating costs, agent burnout and the record wait times currently plaguing organizations.

The goal of modern contact center technology is to make it so easy, agents can use it on their first day. And this will come in handy, as my organization predicts that by 2025, 25% of agents will be gig-economy workers, as events such as the Great Resignation and Great Reprioritization continue to change the face of the contact center.

Opportunity in the face of adversity

Remote work demands, higher turnover, customers on the phone longer: it’s either the best of times for contact centers, or the worst of times. It’s all how you look at it. I hope you’ll view it as an opportunity.

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