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Who would have believed that virtually overnight contact centres could transform? A predominantly bricks and mortar-based operation, forced through the pandemic, was able to move to the majority of agents working from home. Ok, for some it was painful at first, but it proved that homeworking for contact centres was possible and more than that, it highlighted a number of advantages of hybrid working.

Less agents in centres means reduced fixed costs. Without the need to assemble the team in a single physical location means more flexibility in working hours and shift patterns, and removing the geographic restrictions opens up a far greater talent pool, and these are just some of the benefits of offering hybrid working.

So, as we hopefully return to some form of normality, how do we embrace hybrid working, not as something we have to do, but something that businesses, contact centres and agents want to do? At Cirrus, we’ve been taking time to explore what is required to embrace hybrid working and make this successful and we have taken a novel approach – we have actually asked the agents. Here are just five things we discovered.

  1. Agents need a consistent experience wherever they are

    When agents were asked how technology could help them, almost half (49%) said they wanted more information about the customer and 48% said they wanted systems that helped them to better serve the customer.

    Agents want to be able to interact over every channel; they want a complete picture of the customer and pick up conversations that may have started on a different channel. They want a single pane of glass, delivered in a single system that is intuitive to use, everything is in one application, and they don’t have to spend time signing in and navigating across multiple systems.

    To support anywhere working, these systems need to be lightweight, not dependent on having multiple screens and definitely easy on bandwidth.

  2. Home working agents want to feel supported

    Manual processes and team-centric processes fall down in a hybrid working environment and unless this is addressed, additional burden and stress is placed on the agent. Modern workforce management solutions are a must – the ability for agents to select their shifts online, swap shifts with other agents, volunteer for overtime and request holidays.

    Although often thought of as just the housekeeping, it is the small things like this that makes all the difference to the agent experience and their motivation.

  3. Wellbeing of agents is critical

    We are fixated with customer experience, and this is not wrong, but we should also be obsessive about agent experience. After all, happy agents deliver the best customer experiences.

    Analytic technologies such as Speech Analytics can significantly help to understand the agent experience. The language being used can identify agent frustrations and detecting trends in agent emotions can identify potential issues in terms of systems, processes or training. Obtaining that 360o view into agent wellbeing and experience is essential in maintaining happy, engaged and highly effective agents.

  4. Agents want to increase first call resolution

    Our research clearly showed that agents want to serve customers better – this is what motivates them and there is no better measurement of this than First Call Resolution. It is not only the customer who feels let down when their question cannot be answered first time; it is also the agent.

    There are a number of areas that agents flag that hamper them in delivering first call value such as the lack of full visibility into customer history across all channels and the lack of ‘knowledge-based’ systems that could quickly provide them with the information they need, and the inability to connect with the rest of the organisation who could support them in answering customer questions first time.

    Addressing these areas not only turns your agents into super-agents, it also motivates them and delivers that important sense of adding value.

  5. Automating The Mundane

    Time after time, we see 80% of agents’ time being consumed by those top 20 frequently asked questions - those mundane questions that are simple to answer, but leaves the agent with no feeling of having added value.

    Automation and digital channels can solve this quickly and highly effectively. Knowledge-enabled chat bots and intelligent self-service can all deliver an exceptional customer experience, but more importantly, deflect the mundane from the agent and enable them to focus on where they perceive their true value-add is.

Hybrid Working is an exciting opportunity for contact centres. It can truly deliver a win for the business, the agent and indeed the customer. However, we need to think differently. Pay more attention to agent experience, focusing them on areas where they add the most value and equip them with the tools they need to add true value, but as importantly, we need to enable agents to be effective at hybrid working - we now operate in a world where ‘work’ is something we do, not a ‘place’ where we go.

Learn more about Cirrus Contact Centre, from Charterhouse - book a demo today>>


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