Guest Blog: Contact Center Talent in These Changing Times, Part 1 - Setting the Stage - Calabrio
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Guest Blog: Contact Center Talent in These Changing Times, Part 1 – Setting the Stage

This guest post is authored by Steven Kaish, SVP, Product Marketing & Technical Partners at Glia.

The legendary Bob Dylan released his classic hit The Times They Are A-Changin’ back in 1964. More than half a century  later, his lyrics couldn’t be more relevant. In fact, the pace of change is only accelerating affecting nearly every facet of our lives, from how we bank, shop and socialize to how we respond to a pandemic. These changes in consumer behavior and expectations, combined with new technologies, are starting to completely transform the contact center.

Complacency is not an option as agents, supervisors and contact center managers are forced to become more strategic, taking on increasingly critical new responsibilities to deliver engaging customer experiences. We’ve entered an era where simply keeping abreast with the latest contact center tech advances is not enough. Contact centers have to adapt and continuously evolve in order to meet customer expectations.

Consumer Behavior, Higher Expectations are Changing the Game

In fact, technology is the driving force behind the biggest trends confronting contact centers today. Consumer behavior is at the top of that list, rapidly evolving as customers become more empowered. Technology is continuously enabling convenient consumer options, such as account balance notifications for banking and same-day delivery and price-matching features for online shopping. The consumer experience is becoming easier, faster and more personable.

Self-service technology in particular is driving change, giving consumers even more control of their experience. Once seen as a last-resort option, self-service has become popular and even preferred by many in the digital age where we have near-endless amounts of information at our fingertips.

But just as technology has shifted consumer behavior, convenient experiences have reset customer expectations. Today’s consumers demand service 24/7, 365 days a week. And while few ‘zero out’ to an agent right away these days, when they do request a live person, they expect an efficient experience. Since many try to resolve issues on their own through self-service, live agent interactions often go beyond the routine, standard questions. Contact centers are increasingly focused now on unique and often customer-specific challenges that require a knowledgeable and skilled agent. The one-size-fit-all script no longer cuts it.

Technology Fuels Contact Center Transformation

The good news is that just as technology is fueling new consumer behaviors and expectations, it’s also providing solutions to help contact centers provide services that meet and exceed customer demands on their preferred devices and apps, 24/7. Tech advances are powering better service through all channels, including voice, SMS, chat and in-app messaging as well as video, which is quickly becoming a favored channel, especially during the pandemic. Other advances include more immersive co-browsing features to help agents share the customer’s view and jointly troubleshoot with them. Collaboration is an emerging theme.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), in particular, is bringing great improvements to the contact center. AI Management Platforms enable contact centers to use bots that can automate routine tasks and power self-service options that help customers quickly find the information they need on their own. AI can also improve live service, helping agents to quickly understand a customer request and provide solutions for issues that are too complex for a bot. It is helping to bridge the connection between self- and live-agent service for a more seamless customer experience.

Technology is also creating new opportunities for contact centers to not only better serve customers but also gain deep insights through Big Data. With analytics, contact centers can leverage their data to see trends, understand preferences and even predict future requirements. This helps agents provide faster, more personalized services that meet customer expectations. In short, agents, supervisors and contact center management can make better, more strategic decisions.

Talent is the Other Half of the Equation

Contact centers have to invest in more than technology to meet the challenges of transformation. They need to reshape every role within the contact center, enhanced to be more agile and adaptive. This includes new hires with deep, specific domain expertise who can optimize new technologies and leverage data to continuously improve service. The best technologies and analytical insights are half of the equation, but you need a strong team that can take full advantage of them to be successful.

The next blog in this series will go into more detail on how to develop key roles within your contact center to stay ahead of constant change. Here’s a quick preview:

  • Agents & Supervisors – With more customers relying on self-service options and bots for routine questions, agents are becoming more strategic and specialized to solve issues that bots can’t handle. In addition to greater expertise, they must embrace new communications channels that match customer preferences. Messaging and video are rapidly replacing calls, especially with younger generations. Supervisors too must take on a more strategic role as they train and manage agents to become savvier with tech tools that enhance the customer experience, and more proficient in resolving customer issues.
  • The Research Team – To become more efficient, contact centers need to be data-driven. Valuable statistics from ACD reports, quality surveys and staffing systems can help optimize routing rules, staff schedules and agent coaching programs. The research team takes on a new priority in today’s world. Where in the past ‘analytics’ was often one of many responsibilities for managers, today it requires a sharper focus. For many contact centers, this may require a dedicated new team. AI can help automate analytics processes and help the research team become more strategic too, focusing on business analysis, suggestions to improve the business and predictions to guide the future direction.
  • Management – Not only are agents, supervisors and the new research team becoming more strategic, but management has to up its game too. Contact centers are shifting from cost centers to valuable assets that can help create competitive advantage. The priority on lowering costs has shifted toward improving customer satisfaction and driving better business results. Gone are the days of call deflection with a renewed emphasis on delivering positive customer experiences. Management needs to embrace the right technologies, hire the right employees and continuously develop the team to stay competitive in this rapidly changing environment. They should look for flexible technologies that allow for growth and adaptation, such as cloud-based solutions. Additionally, they should pay close attention to analytics and AI technologies that provide both the functionality and also ease-of-use to help the contact center meet its full potential.

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. In review, technology is driving significant changes in consumer behavior and expectations. To keep pace, contact centers need to embrace, well, emerging technologies such as AI, analytics and improvements to video and chat features. But it’s not merely adopting technology for technology’s sake. To be successful, contact centers need to enable every role to become more strategic. Technology needs to align to those roles and help them continuously provide rich and satisfying customer experiences.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss how to make those roles more strategic. Check out the Glia blog for more insights in the meantime!

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