Call center leaders have their hands full maintaining best practices in the face of quickly changing technology and customer expectations. It’s a challenge to keep workforce optimization running smoothly when the variables seem to be constantly changing.
There are many aspects to this responsibility.
Earlier this year, International Customer Management Institute made some predictions about how contact center leaders would focus their customer service initiatives and projects during 2014. With the year half over, how well are the resolutions made standing up to the test of time?
A primary challenge addressed in ICMI’s predictions: how to best optimize cohesion between call center agents and the customer experience?
“One of our predictions was that contact centers would (and should) concentrate their efforts on unifying the overall experience – both for the customer and the agent,” noted ICMI’s content direct and senior analyst Sarah Stealey Reed, in a recent inContact blog post.
Of course, all customer-facing organizations want to set themselves apart by offering superior customer experiences. Common strategies for doing that include expanding into new geographies, investing in innovative technology, adding more products and increasing their customer service channels.
Yet, as Reed pointed out, a recent ICMI and inContact research survey showed that almost half of all contact center leaders continue tagging customer satisfaction improvement as their top priority.
Why is ‘rebalancing,’ as Reed refers to it, so difficult to achieve and maintain?
One possibility is that call center service organizations aren’t optimally leveraging workforce optimization. This is a tool that can be a game-changer for call centers.
For example, as pointed out by Reed and her colleague Kristyn Emenecker in an educast highlighting findings from the research survey, call centers can use workforce optimization to increase customer satisfaction score (CSAT), strengthen customer loyalty, improve agent performance, and develop career paths.
With workforce optimization, a call center can be transformed from a cost center to a strategic partner for the whole company.
Another possibility is a lack of unification between the growing number of customer contact channels, which now include chat, video, social and SMS. This increases the complexity of products and also makes it harder to implement new technologies.
“We often make the experience very disjointed and complicated,” Reed pointed out. “Much of this imbalance occurs because we’ve lost sight of our contact center fundamentals.”
Example: only seven percent of call centers forecast volume and only eight percent monitor quality for social — despite almost a third supporting social as a channel.
“Companies are promoting social as a viable alternative to more traditional channels, yet both agents and customers are having a haphazard experience with it,” Reed noted. “The busier and more complex we make the customer experience, the more important it is to exercise the functions of workforce optimization.
Email, mobile and self-service escalations suffer from similar issues. Why? QA, forecasting, scheduling and performance management across all channels is made cumbersome by manual processes and difficulties tying together operational data and agent performance.
Solving those issues requires automation.