Most contact centers have been optimizing the customer experience for years. They’ve started offering a more robust omnichannel experience, allowing customers to engage with them in myriad ways and enabling agents to provide proactive service efficiently and effectively.
One thing still hasn’t been enough of a focus, though: agent engagement. This is increasingly important for contact centers operating in an age of evolving workplaces and workforces.
Contact center agents can be a differentiator for businesses today. An engaged, supported agent has the power to turn neutral or even negative customer interactions into positive ones. Consequently, that same agent can serve as a great brand representative, encouraging customer engagement and loyalty.
The problem is that keeping contact center agents engaged can be challenging. By the nature of their work, agents usually work long hours, often deal with frustrated or unpleasant customers, and have to perform repetitive, mundane tasks. As a result, turnover is high.
Despite these stumbling blocks, businesses are figuring out how to create engaged agents by implementing workforce optimization strategies. They’re providing agents the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, ultimately enhancing the agent experience. When done well, this has the power to help increase customer satisfaction and agent satisfaction, too.
Following are some helpful workforce optimization strategies for improving agent engagement and the agent experience overall:
One emerging trend in contact center workforce management is shift bidding. Management posts different shifts that are available and prices them based on required skill level, time of day, and other factors. Agents pick and choose based on the hours they want to work or the rates they want to receive.
With shift bidding, agents are motivated to remain with a company because they have more direct control over their work, increased flexibility, and the ability to work during the times they are available and effective. In the end, this engagement strategy offers twofold benefits: It compels current agents to stay with the company and attracts new agents to join.
What would happen if contact center agents felt like they were playing a game all day rather than just taking calls robotically? As it turns out, gamification has proven to be a powerful way to bolster agent engagement.
The concept of gamification is relatively simple. After meeting certain criteria, agents can earn digital badges, real and online prizes, and bonuses. The criteria could be anything from meeting a certain number of calls per hour or receiving 12 consecutive five-star caller reviews. Gamification software has the potential to reduce agent attrition when used in conjunction with other workforce optimization strategies.
In 2020, many contact center agents began working remotely. Today, virtual working has become a major benefit for those who would rather not make a commute to an actual location. When paired with shift bidding, offering agents remote work attracts new agents and encourages those who are already part of a company to stay.
Flexibility goes beyond remote work, though. It also means being able to take time away when needed. Giving agents the freedom to take two hours for lunch one day and pick up the extra hour in the evening is a way of treating them like the valued and valuable professionals they are. And in return, most are compelled to do their best work.
Contact center technology can be a double-edged sword — especially when it comes to agent monitoring software. But the right technologies and contact center tools can boost agent engagement, not hinder it. For example, companies now offer agents home-based setups that include devices, equipment, and cloud-based systems.
It can be difficult to balance the needs of the business with the needs of agents. Navigating security for 1,000 agents in different locations is more difficult than managing security for agents all in the same place. Finding the balance of ensuring security while offering autonomy can be challenging. Nevertheless, IT staff have gotten better at making this possible, protecting the business without eliminating an agent’s sense of freedom, trustworthiness, or value.
The importance of employee engagement can’t be overstated. It’s one of the biggest differentiators for companies recruiting top candidates and retaining their most valued members.
To learn more about engaging contact center agents in a way that helps you do both, get in touch today.