Good Call or Bad Call? How do we support contact centre agents in the current climate?

You could argue that this is not a good time to be a contact centre agent. They are at the front line of the interaction between businesses and their customer base at a time when a lot of change – and stress is occurring, and we all know that when customers get stressed, they seek out direct human connection to resolve their issues.

The additional challenge, which sets this economic downturn apart from others, is that many agents are now stripped of those traditional benefits of working in the contact centre. While many enjoy the benefits of remote working – flexible hours, lack of commute etc., many of the support mechanisms built into a traditional contact centre environment – floor walkers, managers available at the show of a hand, the camaraderie of the break room – no longer exist.

This may seem trivial, but for agents and for the management team, this can cause real problems in terms of how best to support customers, how to empower staff, and how to ensure consistency of customer experience.

In our experience, the critical factor in all the above is the ability to continuously improve, and that can’t be done without accurate information about current and past performance, as well as an understanding of trending issues affecting customers.

While call recording is predominantly viewed through a compliance lens; with regulatory codes of conduct and the FCA’s guidance at the top of most business’ priority list, it’s worth remembering the astonishing value it can add at a much more human level. While compliance in call recording is a binary measure, whether or not you can store the call recordings securely for example, a much more fluid stream of value comes in the form of human interaction. Thus, the real value from recordings doesn’t transpire from locking them away in secure storage, but from analysing your customer interactions at an individual level, and across broader datasets and time periods. This can unlock a plethora of benefits:

• Agent performance can be monitored at an individual and collective level, so appropriate support, training and development can be offered where needed
• High performing staff can be identified and rewarded, and their performances modelled for training others
• Recurring customer issues can be spotted and flagged with appropriate internal teams (such as product development, compliance etc.)
• Customers requiring third party support, such as welfare issues, can be flagged and information passed to appropriate stakeholders
• Corrective action can be taken rapidly where agents may have incorrectly advised a customer
• More visibility of compliance issues
• The business as a whole can benefit from the cost savings that come with faster Freedom of Information request processing, for example

It’s easy for customers and agents to view call recording as “big brother”, but implemented correctly, and communicated transparently, they should be able to see that it represents a significant benefit to all parties.