How to manage contact centre agent performance in an omni-channel world

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How to manage contact centre agent performance in an omni-channel world
An omni-channel contact centre can be a powerful asset.
Photo by Harald Arlander on Unsplash

Embracing digital channels means more opportunities for your team to get it right – and wrong.

Implemented an omni-channel contact centre in the last little while and not sure you have a handle on how it’s going? You’re far from alone.

Spurred on by the surge in online activity the Covid pandemic has generated, businesses across Australia have realised that adopting a cloud contact centre platform which incorporates email, web chat and SMS messaging channels can enable them to present a consistent, professional image to the world. It can also facilitate the faster, more responsive service today’s customers, suppliers and partners increasingly expect, irrespective of how they choose to get in touch. 

But making the transition successfully from old-school, voice-only service to ‘open all channels’ involves more than just switching aforesaid channels on, simple as that is to do if you’re using a platform that offers them as standard within your monthly subscription fee.

Setting suitable service levels

In the early days especially, it pays to play close attention to how your agents are travelling and whether they’ve risen to the challenges that connecting with the public via a new medium can entail.

So how should you go about determining whether your team is sinking or swimming in the brave new omni-channel world?

Setting individual service levels and activity targets for each new channel is a good first step. While you likely have a fair idea of how many phone calls novice, intermediate and seasoned agents are able to complete in a set time frame, those targets can’t be applied to your new digital channels.

You’ll need to set new ones and, ideally, they’ll be reasonable and achievable. In our experience, agents working the digital ‘lines’ can comfortably manage no more than three web chats or five email exchanges simultaneously, once they’re up to speed. Expect more and you’ll likely see two things: burgeoning stress levels within your workforce and a drop off in service quality.

Gauging the vibe

Periodically checking your agents’ performance against your targets will allow you to see whether additional training or support is required for them to get up to speed.

Meanwhile, making use of any feedback features offered within your contact centre platform can help you to gauge whether customers are satisfied with the quality of the service they’re receiving in the digital realm. Most platforms give customers an opportunity to provide a score at the end of their interaction, indicating whether they’re delighted or disappointed with the way their enquiry, order or complaint was handled.

If you have the time and resources to dig deeper, scanning a selection of webchats, email conversations and SMS exchanges will give you additional insight into how individual agents are managing. If you’re using a modern cloud-based contact centre platform, this data is easy to access and analyse. You’ll likely have the benefit of sophisticated analytics tools which allow you to identify calls, chats and emails which contain key words and phrases.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and it may be that some agents are more proficient with, and better suited to, certain channels than others. Putting your best talkers on the phone and your best writers on web chat and email detail gives both groups the opportunity to shine and will ensure your customers are receiving the optimum service possible.

Stronger team, better business

An omni-channel contact centre can be a powerful asset; the heart of your organisation and a hub for consistent, high quality communication with your customers and the wider world.

Ensuring the team that staffs it is efficient and up to speed with voice calls, SMS messages, email exchanges and web chats will ensure everyone who interacts with your business enjoys a high quality experience, regardless of how they’ve chosen to connect.

Daniel Harding is Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact.

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