They say a leopard can’t change his spots, but in the case of the contact centre agent, we beg to differ. They’re your customer service backbone. The lifeblood of problem resolution, upselling and ensuring that your customers remain loyal.
Broadly speaking, the role of the contact centre agent could be defined as being a customers’ primary touchpoint. They are someone the customer can contact If they encounter an issue, have a question or if they would like to find out more about a product or service that your company offers.
But key factors like Digital Transformation mean that job roles are changing. For instance, we’re seeing IT managers become less involved with the day-to-day, keeping the lights on side of IT. This is often delegated to a third party, leaving the IT manager free to focus on implementing new transformative solutions to drive more value to customers and employees. And the role of the contact centre agent will be affected by Digital Transformation, here’s how.
Evolution of customer service
Customer expectations have skyrocketed in the past few years. Increasingly, consumers are looking for instant gratification. They want their products and services to be immediate, personalised and accessible 24/7.
The evolution of customer service diagram below nicely encapsulates how customer service has changed and what customers expect from products and services now, particularly with how businesses interact with their customers.
A need to have customer service available 24/7 has created a need for Conversational AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to work alongside contact centre agents. Since AI doesn’t need to sleep, it’s open to customers at all times of the day, learning with each conversation and handing a query over to a human only when it’s required.
Whilst these solutions are not set on ever replacing the contact centre agent, they will mean that their role will evolve. Repetitive tasks can be delegated out to the new technology, leaving contact centre agents to deal with larger, more complex issues.
Similar to customer expectations, employee expectations are also on the rise. Increasingly businesses are expected to offer flexible arrangements, not just have it as a benefit.
Even the contact centre cannot stay solely office based, to compete with businesses and recruit the top-class talent out there, workplace modernisation needs to happen. It’s likely that we will see the contact centre turn from physical asset, to agile function.
With more of the millennial generation and their even more digitally advanced successors entering the workplace, it’s going to be crucial to raise employee satisfaction. Because these generations are not scared to job hop.
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Just as we have been having problems filling roles in the agricultural sector from the local employee pool, so the challenge continues in the contact centre. The pool of people willing to answer the same repetitive questions in a contact centre is ever decreasing. A customer recently told us they get 7000 enquiries a month as to when their bins will be emptied!
Making a more interesting role for your agents will not only be of much more value to the customer, increasing first call resolution, but will also give you a more highly motivated workforce who are likely to stay longer, reducing the vicious circle of recruitment and training.
Working closely with customer-facing counterparts
As technology starts to increasingly stand in for the contact centre agent completing repetitive tasks and lower level inquiries, agents will start to become more specialised. For instance working more closely with their customer-facing counterparts in sales and account management to resolve complex customer problems.
Creating a workforce of highly skilled agents that specialise in customer service across areas such as billing, complaints and championing products.
Become more proactive, rather than reactive
In our Mitel seminar last week, a delegate raised another important point about how the role of the contact centre agent will change. They highlighted that the agents will deliver more outbound communications to customers as opposed to just dealing with inbound requests. Smart technologies that diagnose and report back faults put agents on the front foot. Automation and self-serve will both free up time for the agent to make more outbound, proactive interactions.
Technologies that enable you to score customer sentiment, means that agents will be able to take more of a proactive approach to helping customers. If they are aware the customer is unhappy, they can make sure they are made high priority. Furthermore, agents can stay in regular touch with customers until their sentiment level is positive.
Sentiment analysis helps you keep your finger on the pulse across all your customer interactions and puts you in the driving seat to react fast when required.