For many companies in different sectors, working remotely and managing a remote workforce has been like navigating uncharted waters. Contact centers provide one such example.
Although more contact centers began to introduce remote working practices in recent years, the majority still relied on physical locations. No one could have imagined they would end up having to undergo the radical transition from large common offices to full remote working. Over six months since the shift, a new reality has emerged where either working from home, or a hybrid remote work-in-office model, has quickly become the new normal for many contact center agents.
Although working remotely has proven its many benefits, it still poses challenges. Businesses are faced with an ongoing double challenge to improve and maintain customer and employee satisfaction – all while managing an increasingly distributed workforce. At the same time, agents’ stress levels have increased. According to Forrester Research analyst Ian Jacobs, agents have been subject to the same fears and concerns as everyone else, while spending their workdays dealing with other people’s distress.
Adapting to change
While the mode of operation has changed for contact centers, the expectations that customers have from them has not. In fact, it’s fair to say that these challenging times have driven an increase in customer needs and requests. What’s more, although proper agent behavior is critical to the success of any contact center, managers are facing a lack of visibility into the quality of service being delivered with agents now working remotely. Alone and isolated, there is also a higher risk of agent dissatisfaction and a loss of engagement.
What has become clear is that yesterday’s methods of driving satisfaction don’t cut it anymore. For example, contact centers still overwhelmingly rely on random after-call surveys and interpretive questions when assessing satisfaction. But these are subjective and difficult to define. They also collect random survey data and manually analyze individual calls to assess interactions between agents and customers, which doesn’t prove itself much more efficient. Contact centers therefore have to find another way to empower their front-line agents to drive service excellence from any location.
This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play, as it can help businesses tap into a new dimension of understanding the customer and employee experience. By leveraging AI-driven solutions to score every interaction in real-time and transform subjective (soft skill) behaviors, decisions and outcomes into actionable data, contact centers can achieve an objective and automated analysis of customer satisfaction.
Through this approach, contact centers will have access to consistent, accurate and unbiased metrics for every agent and customer – all without requiring any human effort. Most importantly, businesses will get performance metrics they can trust. In turn, this will enable them to more effectively assess and improve both customer and employee satisfaction in today’s era of remote working.
The power of AI
A key benefit of AI-driven real time interaction guidance is that it can help contact centers keep track of their agents, no matter where they are working from or at what time. For example, contact centers can leverage predictive behavioral models for real-time interaction guidance to accurately and automatically determine and score unique agent behaviors that are proven to directly influence customer satisfaction. This gives managers a comprehensive and objective view of how agents are doing in terms of these behaviors, and the impact they have on customers. In turn, managers are able to provide not only real-time personalized guidance to agents, but also post-interaction evaluations that have tangible and measurable positive outcomes for the business.
Linked to this is the ability of AI-driven real-time interaction guidance to help boost CSAT (Customer Satisfaction score) and NPS (Net Promoter Score). Contact center managers can leverage AI to accurately identify complaints, detect fraud, identify sales opportunities, and measure churn risk based on the behavioral patterns of consumers and agents. This deep understanding of behavioral patterns eliminates human error and subjectivity, ensuring the quick identification and resolution of issues.
The insights provided by real time interaction guidance allow contact center managers to coach to the behaviors that improve the CSAT score and that will positively influence each customer’s perception of an interaction, which is reflected in the overall NPS. Real-time interaction guidance also provides contact center employees with immediate feedback on how to steer customer conversations through clear resolution advice and prompts that drive superior service excellence, even in remote environments. Agents can proactively self-correct in the moment – when it matters most – to improve customer satisfaction on every single interaction and boost overall NPS. At the same time, it gives them the assurance of being evaluated based on their overall performance and not just by a coach listening into a few selected calls. It improves transparency of the process on both sides.
Meanwhile coaches can concentrate on the agents and their training. As well as streamlining activities, coaches get a full picture of each agent’s performance instead of having to rely on a general impression and arguing about the limited data afterwards. Brands that have eliminated the need for these kind of quality checks have freed coaches up to provide more one-on-one attention to their staff, allowing for deeper emotional engagement as well as more direct coaching. Both of those changes drive increased agent engagement.
Ultimately, using AI-powered real time interaction guidance to measure customer and agent behavior makes it possible to overcome the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities of today’s work at home environment. From improving responses to customers, to increasing the usage of self-service, providing visibility into performance and enabling targeted agent coaching and performance management, AI-driven real time interaction guidance that is purpose-built for customer engagement by industry experts is the key to unlocking customer and agent satisfaction.
As a result, contact centers get faster time to insight, rapid time to improvement and enhanced operational efficiency. Embracing the power of proven and purpose-built AI-driven real time interaction guidance will put businesses in the best position to thrive in today’s remote working environments.
Larry Skowronek, Vice President of Product Management, NICE Nexidia