93% of Contact Centers Plan to Stay Remote or Go Hybrid. What Does That Mean for Workforce Engagement?
Management made sweeping changes to address their employees’ basic needs of safety and security when COVID-19 first hit. Now one year later, they must address more sophisticated needs to enable employees to deliver effortless, memorable service in an irrevocably changed world of customer experience:
- Research from Contact Center Week (CCW) shows that only 7% of companies anticipate returning to a “traditional” contact center model even after the pandemic is over. Remote and/or hybrid models are set to become the norm for millions of distributed agents worldwide - all looking for the right tools to get the job done.
- Employees use an average of 6-8 different tools during their workday (CRM, knowledge base, ERP), with those tools each having their own range of disconnected applications and features that stifles productivity and creates holes in the customer journey.
- Amid crippling staff shortages, support lines continue to be overwhelmed by customers calling in about COVID-19 on top of regular business inquiries. Tensions are high, wait times are long, and data visibility can be low.
The solution: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation. Over the course of the last year, investment in AI and automation shifted from a “nice-to-have” initiative to a full-fledged business imperative, especially for managing resources. These powerful capabilities are key drivers of post-pandemic employee and customer experience success:
The cost of unscheduled absenteeism (an estimated $3,600 annually per hourly worker) can have a major impact on your bottom line, now more than ever with employees out of the office. AI and automation can help simplify planning, forecasting, and scheduling to ensure the right people are doing the right things at the right time - every time. For example, AI can analyze data streams relevant to your business such as public holidays and weather patterns in order to create more accurate forecasts in a fraction of the time.
Business and IT leaders say their single biggest challenge is managing remote workers. Whether employees are in-office, working from home, or working from anywhere else, AI and automation can improve employee performance and engagement with real-time performance feedback, mentoring and coaching, and more. For example, real-time speech-based AI can be used to improve employee performance and detect employee sentiment based on key words or phrases spoken in customer conversations. Data automation can also help take the guesswork out of what’s happening with your distributed workforce by delivering the right insight across processes and performance to quickly identify bottlenecks or training gaps.
Simplified Task Management
First thing’s first: you need to provide an employee desktop that seamlessly delivers work schedules, employee toolsets, e-learning courses, performance metrics, relevant customer information, knowledgebase content, and customer journey touchpoints - all on one screen. AI and automation can then be used to further simplify task management. For example, if AI recognizes that an agent has performed an action 20 times over the course of one hour, the technology can propose automating that action to improve productivity, customer availability, and job satisfaction.
Real-time Guidance for Next Best Action
AI-powered insights can supply real-time guidance to employees on how to respond, what to document, or even when to recommend additional information, products or services that have a high likelihood to be personally relevant to the customer. In this way, AI is fueling a shift from the traditional contact center to a marketing and sales hub through predictive customer data.
90% of executives believe AI and automation reduce repetitive tasks, freeing up employees to handle more complex and rewarding work. For example, automatically logging information from a customer call to a related case in the CRM or pre-populating after call work notes or order forms based on speech-to-text transcription from the customer call. At Avaya, we have seen customers reduce after call work by up to 65% using these approaches.
The ways and means of how organizations engage their workforce to provide premier service to customers and their employees is going to significantly change in the years ahead. Learn more with Avaya’s new research report published in partnership with CCW, “4 Ways CCaaS Delivers A Better Employee and Customer Experience in 2021.”