News from the Call and Contact Centre Expo, 22- 23 November, ExCel, London
Leaders focusing on customer experience and call centres, came together for the Call and Contact Centre Expo, on the 22 – 23 November at ExCel London, to form new partnerships and to tackle the most pressing issues facing call and call centres today.
Exhibitors included leading full solution UCaaS providers such as Gamma, 8 x 8 and Ring Central. With consultants from Injection Consulting and Solid Rock Consulting. Messaging platforms such as Twilio and WhatsApp, and voice technology specialists Verbio.
There were a number of thought provoking, insightful speakers and a stand out panel discussion looking at the ‘future of the contact centre,’ which echoed the main themes throughout the show that day. With a brilliant mix of panellists, including representatives looking after customer experience, from companies such as the Cotswold Company, Oner Active, Air France KLM and Cut and Wrap.
With the aftermath of COVID, and the current economic crisis, the panel agreed that the most pressing challenge facing their call centres and customer experience, was the issue of recruiting and then retaining customer agents. Also, that agents needed good onboarding and training, as the skillset of an agent had changed, as customers expected really good service. This means that good agents need to have empathy and good problem solving skills to deal with complex customer problems. In turn, they need excellent supervisors to help coach and train these agents. The role of the supervisor has now changed from functional duties, but more to offering good pastoral care and check ins. These supervisors also have the added issue of potentially managing isolated home workers as well as on premises agents. The panel discussed different ways they could recruit new people to the industry, such as offering flexible part time shifts that could work around employees’ side hustles and family lives. Other ways to support agents included daily check-ins and making sure that agents are supported immediately after difficult calls.
Future predictions by the panel and other industry experts at different seminars was that one significant way to reduce agent churn, included the addition of AI and virtual voice assistants to support, not replace human agents. Helping customers to self-serve, 24 hours a day, means that thousands of calls a day could be directed to virtual voice assistants, dealing with large volumes of tedious repetitive tasks. This could reduce boredom and frustration for human agents and means they can focus on more complicated customer queries, using their empathy and problem solving ensuring excellent customer service. Making the job more enjoyable and more appealing to people could help to recruit and retain agents and potentially reduce agent churn.