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Teams, Technology, and Trust - Pillars for Best-In-Class Contact Centres
Anita Samojednik, President, Groupon International
Your team, the correct application of technology, and the development of trust.
These are the three incredibly complex areas, connected at various points across organisational structures as well as between customers and your teams. Let’s break it down a little.
The contact centre can be a callous working environment and yet these teams are the direct connection point between your customer and your brand. The impact that these teams have is immense and yet it can be the most challenging team to align to your brand’s mission, vision, and values due to the fast-paced nature of the role and often-higher attrition rate. This is where workforce management tools and technologies come into play that allows you to be flexible with your shifts, such that agents can achieve their own work/life balance and enjoy time spent in the workplace. Making time for all-hands meetings, allowing staff time to engage with business leaders and ask questions, as well as downtime to engage with each other and the brand empowers leadership to work with their teams and understand the impact they truly have on the business. We have found that allowing staff paid time out of the office to volunteer has really helped with team building and engagement whilst helping us to re-enforce our culture and values; those things that can often seem intangible, yet are so vital in how your agents live your brand and communicate with customers.
There is also an immense value to have engaged teams who can engage with the leadership. Some of our most innovative technology enhancements for agents have come from teams on the ground, identifying where technology can be best applied for maximum efficiency. Trust is a key factor here; teams need to trust the management and should feel confident in engaging and highlighting where improvements can be made.
Now, let’s talk a bit about trust.
Whatever industry you’re in, building relationships with your customers is vital, and it‘s at the heart of employee engagement. This is where technology and trust collide. With digital and social media channels constantly reshaping customer expectations, consumers are becoming more demanding. An unhappy customer will publicize a lousy service for the world to see, making meeting expectations more crucial than ever.
The intelligence coming from contact centres empower brands to understand their customers, through vital insights into brand perception, product, and service quality
The contact centre sits right on the frontline where customer expectations can be met or missed and trust can be won or lost.
The team needs instant access to all the information on a customer when a call/chat/email comes through; they need a deep understanding and immediate access to your policies as well as the training and ability to use these tools while building a relationship with the customer.
Now, although chatbots and new technologies such as IVR aid in speed, their use and deployment need to be managed smartly by your teams. The new-age customer can be a bewildering blend of characteristics; on the one hand demanding fast and effective solutions while on the other wanting the human touch to engage with trusted brands on a more intimate level.
Training advisors to use empathy is critical—understanding and reading into the customer’s issue is vital. Not every resolution is about jumping in and trying to problem-solve immediately, it’s about listening and understanding the feelings of customers. This is where the interconnections of trust, team, and technology really play out, enabling you to best use your resources in the right situations to ensure brand success in the long-run.
Advisors must understand that although they may have their preferred style, it is essential to demonstrate the right style for particulars customer, in the right situation, via appropriate channels.
A lot of that comes down to agents having the right technology.
Brands now know that passively handling customer queries is no longer going to cut it; businesses are taking an active interest in how they can shape and improve customer experience to maximise business opportunities. Technology is at the heart of this—not only to keep pace with the emerging technology that customers are embracing, but also to deliver a more responsive and personalised service.
Chatbots, for example, already use analytics to automate Instant Messenger queries. While they tend to be used for routine queries, these technologies satisfy a customer who expects a quick resolution for an easy to fix the issue. So, this technology is not to be used solely, but instead as an extension of our teams; providing self-service resolutions as well as collecting initial input upfront to drive a quicker and more satisfactory resolution once the customer interacts with an agent. As machine learning technology develops, it will be widely used, however to serve as a supplement for teams who are well-versed in hands-on customer relationship building. This is what will rapidly become known as a co-bot; AI and machine learning robots working with humans to deliver the best possible customer experience.
This is again where trust raises it head, agents need to engage with these new technologies to understand them within the life cycle of the customer to truly deliver the right service to the right customer at the right time. Brands that value human interaction will be looking to leverage technology in this co-bot fashion, rather than eying technology as a way to replace people.
Technology also drives our access to intelligence, as CRM platforms and contact centre technologies merge. This also means that the information coming from contact centres empower brands to understand their customers, through vital insights into brand perception, product, and service quality. Data, when smartly harnessed and fed back into the business, can dramatically impact the bottom line.
While we have only touched the surface of these issues, it is clear that what we have discussed here is intertwined; forget one element and the others are the lesser for it. When this equates to a loss of customers, brand equity, and ultimately profit, brands that accept the complexity and understand these connections are the ones who will be pioneers in the future.
Value your people, communicate the power of technology to them, drive engagement and trust—only then will your contact centre be able to fully deliver for your brand and be agile enough to face the future.