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PHOTO: Yingyaipumi

Call center managers are tasked with handling the growing volume of calls and sometimes a lack of confidence in their ability to maintain service levels in the additional waves of COVID-19, according to a CGS report. These are some of the challenges faced by call center executives who oversee operations critical to most businesses.

“Customer needs are constantly evolving, which is why a straightforward business communication experience is crucial to their success,” said Swapan Nandi, Senior Director, Next Gen Solutions at Mitel. “As the market continues to falter, transparent and efficient contact center experiences will strongly influence customer loyalty. Customers aren’t afraid to look elsewhere for companies with superior customer contact service experiences.

The past year has seen disruption, changes in customer behavior, supply chain shortages and even more obstacles. No one knows what 2022 has in store, but having a solid strategy and a guiding North Star is a great way to start. With that in mind, we met with some call center leaders who shared their thoughts on the year ahead.

Support call center agents in different ways

Mike Bowman, director of service operations at ECSI, said as we approach 2022 he is focusing on these three components in his call center.

Automation solves seasonality and staffing issues: Bowman said automation allows his call center teams to operate 24/7/365. It also contributes to the “seasonality of our business,” Bowman said, adding that his teams have been able to better manage the sharp fluctuations in call traffic during the year.

Additionally, it helps resolve personnel issues and lingering pandemic issues. He noted “extreme competition for staff from call center representatives.”

Callers want self-service options: Analysis of the behavior of ECSI callers shows that they strongly prefer self-service. Self-service implementations have also helped alleviate some staffing issues, Bowman says.

Virtual assistants support call center representatives: Bowman said virtual assistants drive solutions and resources to representatives in real time when they’re on the phone. It reduced call times by automating administrative tasks needed over the phone, improved quality by giving real-time interaction advice to reps, and allowed ECSI to play and reward the work reps do, according to Bowman. .

Related article: Call center technology trends for 2022

Employee migration and skills development

Bowman said his teams have already started to migrate experienced people to new, highly skilled professional roles while developing tools and technology in their call center. “Our mission in 2022 will continue to provide our customers with AI-assisted, tech-enabled customer service professionals with real-time resources,” said Bowman. “Additionally, we partner with like-minded vendors and work alongside us to create upgraded platforms that support automation, self-service and virtual assistants. “

The company also launched a training campaign for employees, allowing them to undergo formal and informal training on automation and RPA technology. This is in addition to working with internal engineers and supplier partners to gain first-hand experience and knowledge of how the technology works and how it can be leveraged in their own areas of work.

In-depth training and mentoring will be the hallmark

Tom Hinds, vice president of global contact center management, technology and strategy at Mastercard, said his company’s 10,000 contact center agents around the world receive in-depth training and one-on-one coaching every week to make sure they hit the mark. This is where it focuses: doubling skills and training.

Mastercard is recruiting and developing a worldwide contact center workforce to provide support in 67 languages ​​to meet the needs of its global customer base. Over the past year, the organization has revamped its approach to training to meet its goal of making officers knowledgeable and successful in the complex financial services industry. Mastercard also supports 55 different products.

In the past, it took six weeks to train an agent, Hinds noted. Mastercard then began to limit its training focus to the five most common types of cases / transactions. Now, new agents can take calls with minimal supervision in about four to five days and have average processing time metrics on par with seasoned agents, according to Hinds.

Direct coaching of each agent takes place weekly with additional Team Huddles where a team leader meets with 15 agents to review feedback from the contact center for coaching and then to the training organization – a full lifecycle for constantly calibrate what the good looks like. Agents are eligible for bonuses and have access to a dashboard with the top three or four things tracked, such as membership, attendance, and more, according to Hinds.

Related article: Six Strategies For An Effective Call Center Culture

Agent activation will lead to 2022 targets

Brian Briggs, vice president of call center operations at Stericycle Communication Solutions, said his main focus in 2022 is agent empowerment because he believes agent experience dictates consumer experience.

The agent activation roadmap has three main objectives:

  • Entity Extraction that captures consumer statements during the call to automatically populate the agent’s desktop data needed to accomplish a task, such as scheduling a medical appointment.
  • The use of cognitive research will also allow the agent to obtain relevant information when the consumer asks questions.
  • Real-time service restoration with sentiment analysis.

“We believe that our agent empowerment program will help make our call center more efficient, make healthcare brands more competitive,” said Briggs, “and, ultimately, improve the patient experience. “