Happy New Year and Welcome to 2023!
By Colin Taylor
As I look at the new and shiny year ahead, I wonder what delights and innovations and opportunities may lie ahead for Contact Center operations.
I think in many ways we will finally shake the post-pandemic hangover; we just need to take two aspirin and realize that what we have been dealing with for the past two years was really a realignment. Realignment of healthcare, global supply chains, work locations, employment relationships (quiet quitting, great resignation, etc.) …
We have seen Contact Centers struggle to find and retain workers. More candidates were ghosting, and current workers reconsidered what they want to do and be when they “grow-up”. We have seen more than 20 months of long wait times due to “higher than normal contact volumes”.
I think in the coming year we are going to see the rightsizing of Contact Centers. They will rationalize and rebalance their staffing and service levels for all contact channels. Centers will continue to leverage AI and automation to reduce live-agent interactions. ChatGPT and real-world RPA applications will make these technologies more accessible to small and mid-sized centers.
These measures will ameliorate the labor shortages centers face, but these alone won’t solve the problem. No, if centers need more, better, and more engaged frontline agents, then they will need to make frontline roles more attractive. This will mean better pay, better training, better tools, better support, and a better work-life balance. Of course, the centers will also need to improve their recruitment processes to engage candidates before they become employees.
All of this will be expensive and play havoc with center budgets. Technology, AI and automation, and integrations will all cost money, as will putting in place a more agent-friendly environment.
There will also be benefits…big benefits. These investments will improve efficiency and improve the service that the centers deliver and that we, as customers, consume. This won’t be an overnight exercise; technology projects can be delayed and won’t yield results instantly.
Heck, it can take 6 to 12 months for new agents to become competent.
At the end of the day, the winners will be the agents who will receive a living wage, and be better equipped to do their jobs, resulting in more satisfaction, engagement, and retention. Customers and consumers will also be winners as we can finally stop hearing about “higher than normal contact volumes” and get some decent service.
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