Global Research Reveals 3 Ways to Make UK Agents More Impactful - Calabrio (UK)
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Global Research Reveals 3 Ways to Make UK Agents More Impactful

Hybrid working and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are revolutionising the role of the agent worldwide but UK contact centres believe it takes more than technical training to build a highly effective team. Here is a 3 point plan based on findings from our latest report: State of the Contact Centre Report 2023: Activating the Agent of the Future, to prepare your operation.

According to a recent UK Parliament House of Commons Committee[i] report, the UK’s labour market is currently unusually tight, with more than one million job vacancies across the country. Workers increasingly seek flexible and remote working opportunities while Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are playing a greater part in work itself, recruitment, and in some cases, performance management. These are trends that apply equally to the world of customer service.

Contact centres around the world face the same major challenges of attracting and keeping the best talent while providing frontline staff with the flexibility and AI-driven tools to do their job. Calabrio’s latest survey reveals that UK contact centres are leading the way in having a hybrid workforce (72%) while the same majority believes remote-working is having a positive impact on the customer experience (CX). Meanwhile, the introduction of AI-driven tech is likely to require more—not fewer—agents in the future with a quarter of UK contact centres expecting AI to require more agents in the next 1-5 years and a further 34% anticipating this figure to rise in 5-10 years’ time.

With that in mind, how do contact centre leaders prepare their frontline teams for future success?

3 Ways to Create Impactful Agents

Follow these essential steps to build a highly effective talent pool and future-proof your contact centre:

1. Reimagine What Success Means

What defines success in your contact centre? Do you aim for the fastest contact handling times possible? If so, why? After all, speedy response times are not necessarily the answer if customers feel rushed or don’t receive the personalised service they expect. How about your agents, do they even come into the KPI equation? The truth is they should do because agents are better able to handle challenging customer situations if they feel prepared for any contingency.

UK contact centres are a practical bunch. When asked about the most important proficiencies for preparing agents for the future, top of the list was critical thinking skills such as problem-solving and troubleshooting (60%) followed by adaptability and continuous learning (59%). However, only 17% of contact centre managers in the country believe all their agents are currently able to develop these skills. To narrow the gap, aim to place greater emphasis on these new skills, blending them with technical know-how and softer elements such as emotional empathy to create a truly impactful team of agents.

2. Put Employee Engagement First

When employees are disengaged and feel out of control, they are generally less productive and more likely to leave—the worst-case scenario in a tight labour market. What is more, critical skills such as adaptability, critical thinking and interpersonal communication are the first to suffer. The good news is UK contact centres appear to be on the right track by recognising the importance of agent wellbeing. The majority (88%) rank engagement scores as the top measurement metric of the future ahead of traditional customer-centric measurement criteria including customer effort and wait times/service levels (78%) or NPS (76%).

What is interesting is that AI is considered to be the most effective as a tool to help agents rather than customers. It automatically balances agent schedules, provides real-time data to evaluate customer service, while giving agents on-demand resources to better support customer requests. In the UK, 43% of contact centre managers say voice of the agent surveys are highly effective for improving agent engagement. Combine surveys with agent self-service and Voice of the Employee (VoE) analytics to empower frontline teams, boost performance and enhance satisfaction now and in the future.

3. Take a Proactive and Targeted Approach to Training

Traditional onboarding is no longer enough. Give agents a full range of tools and resources to succeed in a changing environment. After all, almost one third (31%) of UK contact centre managers claim training and skills development are an intrinsic part of an organisation’s strategy to attract and retain agents for future success. Start by training new agents and refresh more experienced team members on work aptitude skills to best meet customer demands.

Regular progress monitoring is essential so develop a mechanism to measure the impact of training and employee engagement on productivity. That way, contact centre leaders are able to identify immediate areas for improvement along with the most eligible candidates for advancement quickly and efficiently.

Focus on where the need is greatest—small, incremental steps can lead to big changes in a relatively short period of time. Finally, consider deploying the latest automated performance management and coaching solutions to facilitate and accelerate the process.

For more ideas on how to create impactful agents and prepare your contact centre for the future, download Calabrio’s latest State of the Contact Centre Report 2023: Activating the Agent of the Future.

Magnus Geverts is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Calabrio. He has over two decades of experience in the workforce engagement management and customer service space, working in a mix of roles and departments across the world: from R&D to consultancy to his role as Chief Business Development Officer at Teleopti. Today, he oversees Calabrio’s product go-to-market efforts. Magnus works closely with product line managers who shape the roadmap and strategies for the full Calabrio suite and oversees the product marketing team to offer software that enables users, engages frontline employees and elevates the end-customer experience.

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