Work-life balance is still a big problem for contact centers - Calabrio
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Work-life balance is still a big problem for contact centers

The hardest part of any contact-center business is balancing what employees need against what it takes to keep customers satisfied. Contact center leaders run into the same dilemma time and again: how to balance a business model that may demand 24/7 customer service against the work-life commitments made to agents.

This constant push/pull scenario puts even the most flexible contact-center operation to the test. It’s a delicate balance hard to achieve before the pandemic — and in many cases, it’s even harder to achieve now.

Here’s why:

  • Agents want to keep the workplace flexibility given to them during the pandemic. Working remotely during the pandemic let agents control more of their own destiny. They could, for instance, care for a sick child between calls without having to use up a sick day. And they don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things — they want the best of both worlds, and they want it right now.
  • Agents are more likely to leave if they don’t get what they want. Before the pandemic, it could be challenging to recruit new agents, but it was relatively easy for many contact centers to retain the ones they already had. But employees today have more job options than they did pre-pandemic — more contact centers are hiring, most are raising their wages and many are increasing the amount of workplace flexibility they offer agents.
  • But contact center operations are still catching up. There’s no denying contact centers needed a reboot regarding how they approached remote work, but the pandemic forced most of them to try to cram five years of workplace flexibility progress into 18 short months. For many, the result is a disconnected technology infrastructure loaded with powerful tools that aren’t used to their full advantage.

All of this forms an unprecedented scenario, but there are three things you can do right now to overcome the challenges:

  1. Improve the coaching agents receive and the career paths available to them.
    Set up continuous feedback loops with employees — in addition to coaching them extensively on all the different communications channels on which they work and asking about their personal career goals, also find out what they like and dislike about their work, and what flexibility means to them (fyi, the answers may evolve over time, so keep asking them). Also make sure younger agents are coached in the way that best suits them since what works for a Gen-X agent might not work for a Millennial or Gen-Z agent.
  2. Make sure you have — and use — the right technology.
    Deploy cloud-based contact center tools that enable more workplace flexibility for remote and hybrid agents by eliminating data siloes, managing new cohorts, unifying communication channels and helping them better manage their time. Then proactively encourage each tool’s use and monitor how readily agents adopt it, so both your contact center and your agents fully benefit from what it can do.
  3. Optimize the omnichannel experience and flow.
    Lastly, unite your digital channels, so context persists context throughout the customer journey, and you can gain richer insight into — and continually improve — the omnichannel experience had by both agents and customers.

In conclusion, giving agents a better work-life balance by enabling the workplace flexibility that underpins it is no longer an option for contact centers that want to attract and retain agent talent. The time has come to embrace that reality, and start making real, lasting, technology-enabled change within your organization.

Find out more about improving agent well-being and retention — read our new report, “Health of the Contact Center 2021: Agent Wellbeing & the Great Resignation.”

From custom reporting to data visualization, Mary’s work as a Business Intelligence Consultant helps call centers transform data into actionable insights. She takes pride in creating solutions that enable people to quickly and easily find value in their data, regardless of their level of analytical expertise. Mary enjoys working at the intersection of business and technical users and finding ways to satisfy the needs of both audiences.
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